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Tour Stage 7: Back to the Flats

Fougeres - Chartres (Sigh, 231km)

Tour de France Stage 5 Getty Images

Andrew and I, in our Viewers’ Guide, came to the conclusion that this was the worst stage of the Tour de France. I didn’t call it that in the headline — I don’t think that would exactly encourage reading, but I stand by that — this is the worst stage of the Tour. On the Tour website, Christian Prudhomme admits this will be a sprint but does say that there’s a chance of winds shaking up the stage. I excitedly googled the wind forecast before writing this preview: eight kilometres an hour. Pfffft. Wonderful. So a sprint it is then. I suppose they have to happen one day or another. Do they have to be two hundred and thirty kilometres long? I’d say no. Even if it does move the race towards the cobbles, I’d say this stage could be shortened and hurt no one. Oh well, that’s beside the point.

Before getting into this in too much detail, I’ll do a quick Where We Stand after Stage 6: Mainly, the equity of the bad luck in this Tour continues to astound me. Dumoulin fell from an advantaged position to being level with the rest of the GC contenders, in what I think was an impressive performance not to lose more time. Only Bardet has suffered bad luck in addition to a poor TTT performance. At any rate, he only lost thirty seconds, his race isn’t over. Richie Porte showed his face today, sitting on the front for a very large amount of time for whatever reason. I’m not sure what to think of that — is he in great form to be able to show strength like that, or was he trying to keep a high tempo to prevent attacks? Oh, and Froome is not himself. He’s not dead and buried, but this isn’t the assured Tour Froome we’ve seen at this race. I know I’m taking a lot from eight seconds in the first week, but Tour Froome doesn’t lose seconds on stages like this. This might, in fact, be what I’m dubbing Vuelta Froome, who is a formidable threat, but he’s not going to dominate this race. It might not be that steep a drop off in form, but a drop off in form is what it is. That’s only reasonable, in fact it’s to be expected. The guy did the Giro.

Seems like a good place to put Amy’s alcoholic drink of the day — Pacory Cidre le Costaud

From the producer, with some help from Google translate: In the heart of the Bocage Domfrontais, pear and apple trees dominate our meadows. From carefully selected fruits, we produce Calvados, Pommeau, Poiré and Cider. Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, Pacory peasants in the Domfrontais. Like all the peasants of this grove, they transform apples and pears into cider, perry and calvados alongside growing activities. The farm Grimaux is operated by our family since 1939.

The stage heads due east, out of Brittany. The direct nature of the route would have made it very interesting if the wind blew, but of course it won’t.

Obviously not much elevation to speak of.

The road kicks up at about three per cent at the end, other than that the stage is as flat as can be. The categorised climb is the most ambitious one yet.

As for candidates for victory, I think there are three. Marcel Kittel is the least likely, but it must be admitted that he has the sprint to win this stage if he positions himself correctly. The move away from Quick-Step Floors really highlighted his weakness in positioning. He’ll get it right some day though. Then, not much can stop him.
I don’t think that will happen, however. Peter Sagan is my pick for the day. He’s sprinting better than ever, and the 3% rise in the road makes me feel that he can overhaul the current sprint king.
That king, of course, is Fernando Gaviria. He is of course the favourite, I just think that Sagan might have what it takes to beat him this time, especially after a long, tiring stage.