The mountains are a day closer, but the Tour de France peloton are not expecting stage seven to be a gentle warm-up.
Friday’s 249.1km route is the longest stage in 21 years and the final 100km are packed with five categorised climbs, the last topping out with just 10km to go.
Predicting a winner is a hard task, with sprinters possibly able to contest the finish should they not be dropped on the final climb, while punchier riders will be excited by the opportunity to attack.
It looks like a good chance for the first success for the breakaway, but equally general classification riders who have lost time in the opening week – and there’s plenty – could be tempted to force their luck and try and reduce the deficit they have to Tadej Pogačar, the defending champion.
Mathieu van der Poel is the current leader of the race, holding an eight second advantage to Pogačar, and he is expecting a fight to keep hold of the yellow jersey.
He said after stage six: “Let’s see what happens tomorrow: some guys will be racing thinking of the overall classification, so it won’t be easy to keep the yellow jersey.”
Van der Poel’s comments were echoed by Ide Schelling, the current leader in the King of the Mountains classification.
The Bora-hansgrohe rider may attempt to infiltrate the breakaway once again on Friday, and he is anticipating a challenge on his polka dot jersey.
“The last two days were easy for me, kind of recovery rides, and I feel fine. I’m not sure what my strategy will be tomorrow,” Schelling commented.
“It’s such a hard stage and afterwards come many stages with even more [King of the Mountains] points at stake.
“I have to assess how much energy I want to devote to keeping the jersey for another couple of days.”
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