The dust has now settled on the 1st individual time-trial and now the GC riders can rest and the sprinters take charge again.
This is a long stage,218km,as the organisers wanted to get to Lyon in 3 days.The riders go from Fougeres to Tours,which takes us in a South-Easternly direction.It’s going to be another sunny day with temperatures peaking at 27 degrees and yet again crosswinds of about 14mph.The wind hasn’t played havoc this year and I don’t see it starting now.
The finish is far from easy.Once over the river we have a 90 degree right turn and then in the closing stages we have another 2 90 degree turns.This could be absolute carnage and positioning is obviously very important.Lotto have proved to all that they are miles above all other teams,in terms of sprint trains,and Andre Greipel will be determined to make up for his mistake on stage 10.
Cavendish is fuming!He hasn’t sprinted well during the tour,apart from stage 5.I want to take a look and show you that OPQS can get it right!
The Lotto rider senses the danger as we approach the 400m mark but he hasn’t brought his teammates with him.Steegmans is about to launch Cavendish.
In terms of stage 12,the others know that if Cavendish is brought to the line like this,he wins.That is why Lotto have been putting more men in front of Greipel to ensure that they can do shorter,faster bursts.This ensures that the Lotto train is 1st and increases Greipel’s chances of victory.It is a very technical finish,so the positioning of the riders is crucial and their bike handling skills.I think this makes Cavendish and Sagan favourites as Lotto won’t have the opportunity to get their long train running.
Instead of criticising OPQS all the time we need to dig a little bit deeper.Cavendish is the only top sprinter to have done the Giro,then the Tour.Like the GC riders,this makes him less fresh than the others.They also have Jerome Pineau,Gert Steegmans and Matteo Trentin competing in both.The young Trentin has been posted missing from the train since stage 5,probably suffering from fatigue.
The Giro again shows us how Cavendish likes to attack.
Stage 12 was a carbon copy,again Steegmans is 1st wheel with Cavendish 2nd.When they get in this position it usually means game over.At the Giro he was up against the 2nd division of sprinters,so nobody had the power to go past him but even at the Tour if Steegmans and Cav get into this position it usually means a Cav win.The final corner is at 450m and if they hit it 1st they should win,unless Peter Sagan is on his wheel.Sagan has an incredibly fast acceleration and I think he is the only rider capable of getting past Cavendish in that position.Cavendish had urine thrown over him today and some think that will make him more motivated than the rest.I don’t buy into this theory,it’s the Tour de France and everyone is super motivated.
One to watch out for is Matt Goss.In stage 10 he eventually got himself into a good position,but allowed Sagan to barge him out the way,before the crash made him slow down.He is an outside shot for the podium at 80/1.
I haven’t even mentioned Marcel Kittel!He is the most successful sprinter with 2 stages and must be considered a threat,but I don’t think the corner at 450m does him any favours.
Prediction time …..
I feel Sagan is due a sprint win and his superior bike handling skills should allow him to take the final corner at an incredible speed and keep his position in the pack.The big question is,”Can OPQS deliver Steegmans and Cavendish to the front for the last corner?”
Your answer to that question should help you determine your winner.