When Wednesday, July 13
Impact on GC 1/5
Sprinters don’t get much slack cut by modern Tours de France. You can see why, the stages that sprinters win can be formulaic; an early break is established and slowly reeled in, then there’s a massed rush for the line. It works fine once or twice in a Tour but, apart from the finish, the racing isn’t very exciting.
This is a sprinter’s stage, but at least with this stage the scenery will be spectacular, all sunflower fields and vineyards. And there is always the wind, which might cause an upset.
Stages in this part of France can be hit by strong crosswinds, especially if the Mistral blows. It roars out of the Alps and down the Rhone Valley towards the Mediterranean. It mostly hits Provence, where the locals say ‘the Mistral is strong enough to blow the ears off a donkey’, but it can blow around Montpellier too. Distracted favourites have lost time being on the wrong side of a split in the peloton on stages like this.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) put himself in the break and placed second on stage 10 to reclaim the green jersey of points classification leader from Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data). Cavendish is perhaps the leading favourite for the win in Montpellier, and the battle for the green jersey is far from over.
It’s likely that the overall fvaourites – and much of the rest of the peloton – will be relatively relaxed for much of the day, mindful of a big stage to Mont Ventoux on Thursday.