Stage 7: Épernay -- Nancy, 234km
More time in the northeast of France. Today's war remembrance goes to Octave Lapize, the 1910 winner of the Tour de France. Lapize went on to the French Air Force, only to die in 1917 when his plane was shot down in an aerial duel with a German pilot. The site of the crash and his burial is at km 174 of today's stage.
Gets a bit tricky late:
This is basically Milano-Sanremo without the tricky turns (cough). Still, 1300 meters at 8% will be no picnic for the sprinters. At the end of 230km, does Kittel's elastic snap on the climb? I say maybe... depending on what other teams do. Of course. More specifically, though, such a long day may lead to disinterest in the peloton if the right break is up the road. Only if Giant and maybe Cannondale or Lotto help drive the race will we even see a bunch finish.
Then it comes down to tactics. I'm no expert in that area but Cannondale or another team who thinks their sprinter will get over the Cote de Boufflers in good shape probably needs to keep the pace blistering leading to the climb, so Kittel is on his limit even before the road goes up. An 8% grade is enough to cause trouble, but not enough to guarantee it. Every pro cyclist can blast out 1300 meters of misery, as long as they aren't already about to crack.
I'm going with the break taking this one. Maybe even a Bretagne-Seche rider. This spares Kittel the bother of being done in by tricky stage planners and even trickier rivals.