As the 2018 Tour de France leaves the Alps behind, there’s a lull in the climbing as the focus turns towards a day for the sprinters from Bourg d’Oisans to Valence covering 169.5km.
Although there are no mountains on Friday’s stage 13, there are still two classified climbs for the riders to tackle: the Côte de Brié 32.5km into the stage and the Côte de Sainte-Eulalie en-Ryans at 109.5km. However, neither climb has sufficient gradient to really play a major part in the day’s action.
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There’s a lumpy final 50km with a slight rise to the line in Bourg d’Oisans. On paper, it’s a day for points classification leader Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) or Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) to sprint for the win.
A swathe of the other big-name sprinters have already packed their bags and left the race, including Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Welshman Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) goes into the day as the overall race leader, having claimed two consecutive stage victories in the Alps to strengthen his position in the yellow jersey.
Going into stage 13, Thomas sits one minute and 39 seconds ahead of team-mate and defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the general classification, with Dutch challenger Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) in third at 1-50.
After stage 13’s conclusion, it’s on to stage 14 on Saturday, from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Mende. It’s a 188km course of two halves with a relative flat opening 90 kilometres before an increasingly testing slog through some big climbs.
Riders will have to tackle the second category Col de la Croix de Berthel, third category Col du Pont sans Eau and on to the second category Côte de la Croix Neuve. The latter peaks just before the finish line in Mende.
The 2018 Tour de France concludes on Sunday, July 29 in Paris.