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Tour Stage 11: Still Flat? Yep? Okay Then!

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Eymet - Pau (203.5 km)

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage Ten Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The Tour is dropped off at the traditional door to the Pyrenees of Pau, with a flat run-in, the sixth of the race so far, like that isn't enough. The stage brings us to the mountains, at least.

Carte

Profil de l’étape

This stage is a two hundred kilometre plus slog at low altitude, with just the one category climb, along with a forty kilometre long false flat, to contend with. Once again, the profile is a less important graphic than the view of the last few kilometres.

One, two, three, four roundabouts in the last five kilometres, I can tell you how much sprinters love that. There's a ninety degree bend with a klick to go, with a straight run after a small turn at seven hundred metres. The road does seem to narrow going onto Rue Michelet, but it still doesn't look like the most dangerous of final kilometres. Nor is it so technical as to really damage Kittel's chances.

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day – Lassolle Le Blanc Qui Tente

Semliion!
RawWine tells me that: Lassolle is a small 8ha estate in south west france; between the sauternes and the graves vineyards in bordeaux. Stephanie's vineyards are made up of old vines; some of them over 100 years old. The domaine is driven biodynamically since 2004; certified demeter from 2014.
Low yields on a typical south west france terroir (petites graves rouges) command longer ageing and maturing but the will to make thirst quenching terroir wines without added sulfites allows stephanie to let 2 different style of wines and winemaking live alongside each other in her winery.

Did you know?

This stage passes through the Armagnac region! Armagnac is, of course, the oldest form of French brandy, now overseen in this small region alone by the National Interprofessional Bureau of Armagnac - the French take this stuff seriously. Armagnac is less common and less mass-produced than Cognac, a similar sort of brandy. Both are expensive yet useful ways to help you tolerate this stage.

What’s at stake?

For the GC guys, staying upright is the sole priority here. For the sprinters, time is running out to take home a stage win.

Who’s going to win?

Marcel Kittel is going to win, because he's the best sprinter in the race on what may be the form of his life. He has had one half-decent leadout all race and has still managed to win all but one of the sprint stages, winning from way back in the group when necessary. Only the worst of luck can thwart him here.

The only rider I'd really like to mention as a challenger is Dylan Groenewegen, who throughout this Tour de France has sprinted to decent placings despite getting boxed in on seemingly every stage. If he gets into the right position for the first time, I think he'll be the person closest to Kittel.