Today’s lumpy stage profile offers potential winning opportunities for both hard-working sprinters and classics men alike, including a pair of birthday boys who fall into each category.
BMC’s Philippe Gilbert is 31 today. The reigning world champion and 2011’s top-ranked rider – a year in which he won all three Ardennes classics and a hatful of other major races – has endured a winless season so far. He will be hoping for a second career Tour stage to celebrate with if he can get into the right move.
Should the finish come down to a bunch sprint, Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff, 26 today, will be hopeful of adding to a 2013 haul which already includes three stages and the overall at his home Tour of Norway, stage victories at the Tour de Suisse and Three Days of De Panne, and fourth at the Tour of Flanders.