When Friday July 11
Where are we?
Reims would disagree, but Épernay is the capital of the Champagne region. We’re in the north-east of France, close to Germany, which influences the cuisine, in a mostly good way.
What’s on the route?
It’s a long journey east, and a little bit south, through increasingly wooded countryside. Despite the absence of categorised hills until the end, it is not completely flat. The two climbs, the Côte de Maron after 217.5km and the Côte de Boufflers after 229km, are likely to make it hard for the sprinters’ teams to control.
What might happen?
This is the second-longest stage of the Tour, and the fact there are two fourth-category climbs close to the finish suggests that the sprinters will not have it all their own way. The second of those hills is the ideal springboard for an opportunist to get away to win the stage. If they hit those two climbs hard, the bunch could splinter.
If you’re there
Stop at a cafe and sample the local quiche Lorraine with a salad for lunch.
Lorraine borders Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg and much of the region is forested and hilly, although not as mountainous as the nearby Vosges.