Tour de France 2013 stage seven
Friday, July 5
Stage type Medium mountains
IMPACT ON THE RACE
Yellow jersey 1/5
Green jersey 4/5
Polka-dot jersey 1/5
WHERE ARE WE?
After almost a week in the Mediterranean the Tour is heading in land. We start in Montpellier then head across Languedoc-Roussillon to Albi, covering a sparsely populated countryside dominated by hills and forests.
The Tour, perhaps unsurprisingly, hasn’t visited Albi since the doping scandal farce of 2007. The winner that day – on a tough time trial course looping into the hills around the city – was Alexandre Vinokourov, who would go on to win a stage in the Pyrenees, before (somewhat predictably) testing positive for drug use.
In Albi, the yellow jersey was defended by Michael Rasmussen, a man who had barely registered a decent time trial in his life, somehow matching the time of default stage winner Cadel Evans (a man who has achieved a great number of decent time trials in his life) on the final flat section to the finish. In the end, Astana, for whom Vinokourov was riding, were suspended from the entire tour before Rabobank withdrew Michael Rasmussen.
Essential trivia for the cycling geeks: Albi is twinned with Girona, the Spanish town which is home to dozens of professional cyclists, plus the bloke who allegedly ran off with the Paul Kimmage Defence Fund.
WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
After two very flat stages, things get a bit more rolling today, although with the Pyrenees in the offing, the Tour has resisted the temptation to turn the stage into a midsummer version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
This stage has the terrain of the classic ‘transition’ stage, although pedants will be well aware that, technically, a transition stage must come between the two major mountain ranges of France. Transition stages are where the sprinters and GC riders tend to take things a little steadier.
The stage will be finely balanced between the sprinters and the breakaways. It’s the last chance for non-climbers for a few days, but nobody wants to make their legs unduly tired before two hard days in the Pyrenees.