Tour de France – Stage 12 Preview

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.

stage 12 profileAs you can see the route is quite flat and this should be another big sprint.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.41.27The 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!

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.47.17As they enter the final km,Lotto are in control on the left hand side of the shot but only have 2 men in front of Greipel.OPQS are coming on the right and they have more men.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.49.45OPQS have now taken control,there is a left hand corner coming up and they want to get to it first.Cavendish is sitting 3rd wheel.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.51.17As OPQS wanted they are about to turn in the lead.The rest are just trying to get Cavendish’s wheel,which Boasson Hagen holds on to very well.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.55.24

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.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.56.53Great moment when the Lotto rider(Henderson I think)realises that Greipel isn’t there!

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.57.58If Cavendish gets to this position,then it’s all over for the rest(usually).The acceleration he has means that riders cannot sit in his slipstream and move past him,they’re fighting for 2nd and 3rd.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 09.59.25Cavendish lights it up.Boasson Hagen has done a great job staying on his wheel and Greipel should really be in that position.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 10.01.35Great shot here.Cav is clear and it’s taking all of Boasson Hagen’s energy just to stay on his wheel.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 10.02.51Cavendish takes the win with a considerable amount of ease.Boasson Hagen 2nd,Sagan 3rd and Greipel 4th.

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.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 20.27.42He won stage 1 from a small field due to a crash,but on stage 6 you can see Steegmans at the front of the bunch with Cavendish 2nd wheel.He then gets released and …

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 20.29.37he is well clear of the rest,an easy win for Cavendish.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 20.32.19Stage 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 …..

1.Sagan

2.Cavendish

3.Greipel

4.Goss

5.Kittel

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.

 

 

 

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