The seventh stage of the 2013 Tour de France is very much a ‘transition’ stage, as the peloton begin preparations for the Pyrenees.
Today’s stage leaves the coastal city of Montpellier, finishing further inland at the Medieval town of Albi. Riders will ride the 205.5 kilometre route that contains one category two climb, two category three climbs and a category four climb. An intermediate sprint finish will feature about three quarters into the stage.
The day’s racing will be begin with around 40 kilomteres of flat road before the peloton will head upwards, reaching the first climb of the day, the category three Col des 13 Vents which is a 6.9 kilometre climb with a gradient of 5.6%.
Following a brief descent they will immediately begin the category two, Col de la Croix de Mounis, a 6.7 kilometre, 6.5% gradient climb. The rest of the stage will remain lumpy with the intermediate sprint sandwiched between the next climb at the 135 kilometre mark.
As soon as the intermediate sprint has been raced the second category three climb, the Cote de la Quintaine will begin. This is a 6.5 kilometre, 4% climb. The final climb will be the category four Cote de Teillet which is 2 kilometres at 5%.
So, what can we expect from today’s stage?
The stage could easily see a breakaway out for a good chunk of the day and it may be possible to see a sprint finish, if the sprinters can navigate their way over the first three climbs, although I doubt today will be one for the pure sprinters.
An inform Sagan, though may be trying to open his 2013 stage win account today or we may even see a rider like Orica GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke attempt to claw back some KOM points from Europcar’s Pierre Rolland.
Orica GreenEdge are unlikely to retain the yellow jersey past stage 8, so he may be free to chase another goal for the Aussie team.
The GC contenders will be content to watch the kilometres roll by and today’s mountains are still too small for the mountain goats to entertain us with their climbing prowess.
Join me tonight from 10pm AEST for tonight’s live blog of stage seven.