Stage 7: Montpellier to Albi, 205.5km, rolling
This stage is the last one that the sprinters can target for a while – and even then a bunch finish is far from a certainty – so they’ll be doing everything they can to grab intermediate points and control the inevitable breakaway to reel them back at the right time.
The teams will have a bit of work to do because, as you can see by the profile, they have some climbs to get over. Granted, the hardest ones – the Col des 13 Vents and Col de la Croix de Mounis – come a third of the way through the stage, so there’s plenty of time to regroup for the descent to the intermediate sprint (if the break hasn’t absorbed them all) and then get over the last two climbs. After the last climb, the teams of whichever sprinters have survived – Peter Sagan probably, Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel less so – will up the pace if a break is still out front in order to arrive in Albi for a bunch sprint.
If the sprinters get it right, their reward is a straightforward finish which is flat and arrow-straight for the last 1,400 metres. If they misjudge it, this could be the day for a plucky breakaway rider to zip up his jersey, hold his arms aloft, kiss a picture of his wife/girlfriend/mother/baby and then cry tears of joy as he crosses the line. Maybe that rider could be my favourite Movistarlet, Andrey Amador?
Bit of trivia: If there is a tie for the green jersey during the race, the leader is determined by who has the most stage victories, followed by the number of intermediate sprint victories, if required. If that’s still not enough to determine a leader, the cyclist with the higher GC placement dons the maillot vert.
Link: Official website
Header picture: Cathedral of St Cecile, Albi