Tour de France 2013 stage 12
Thursday, July 11
Stage type Flat
IMPACT ON THE RACE
Yellow jersey 1/5
Green jersey 5/5
Polka-dot jersey 0/5
WHERE ARE WE?
We’re about to cross almost all the way across France, diagonally, from the north-west, back to the south-east (where we were, just a week ago), in the space of just four days.
We start in Fougères, in Brittany, then cross the vast, flat expanses of central France, past Le Mans, to Tours. Tours is one of cycling’s holy places – the autumn Paris-Tours Classic finishes in the city centre, often, although not always, in a sprint.
According to 19th century French writer and scholar Alfred De Vigny, the people of Tours speak the purest and most comprehensible French of the entire country, which, after Corsica, the deep south and Brittany, means we’ve got a fighting chance of understanding what’s going on for the first time in almost a fortnight.
WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
Not a huge amount, in terms of hills. This is sprinters’ week, and the only thing that’s going to come between the bunch and a huge, stage-deciding sprint is unseasonal snow, or a mass bike theft from the Tour.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but it’s impossible that anything other than the classic escape-chase-catch-sprint template will be applied to this stage. There just isn’t the terrain on the run-in to catch the sprinters’ teams out.
In Paris-Tours, the combination of extra distance, eight-man teams and technical run-in means breaks have a chance. But at the Tour, they’ll get their few hours of glory on television, and not much more.