Another rolling stage for the puncheurs, this stage starts out in Orchies – a name familiar to anyone who loves Paris-Roubaix – so we know this’ll be a stage that calls for guts. Add to that six sharp hills – five of which contain 10% gradients, with four within the last 16km – and the whole peloton will be screaming “shut up, legs!” If that’s not enough, the finishing climb into Boulogne-sur-Mer is 700m at 7.4%.
Another win for Peter Sagan? An opportunity for yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara to reverse the stage one result? Or a chance for Philippe Gilbert to redeem himself? The shortness of the final climb will discourage attacks among the GC contenders, but don’t be surprised if an opportunistic Cadel Evans looks to regain some psychological points – and maybe a handful of seconds – back from Bradley Wiggins.
Although the finish isn’t one for the sprinters, there will still be 20 green jersey points up for grabs as the intermediate sprint comes after 119km, before the first of the six climbs. A long, straight approach will give the sprinters time to set up for a slightly uphill run to the line. With Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen and perhaps Matt Goss the only green jersey contenders likely to have the legs to the contest the hilly finish, this will be a critical opportunity for the pure sprinters to keep themselves in touch.
Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.
Link: Official website