Cagnes-sur-mer, Marseille 228.5km.
Just inland from the coast, this stage of the tour winds through the Provencal hills and will offer many riders a chance. It is an extremely balanced part of the race and will allow riders with different skills the ability to race hard. This is one of the only stages this year where the climbs are not so hard that sprinters will feel they have a chance and therefore should really go for it.
The baroudeurs, those who like to spend hours in a small group at the front are hoping today could be a great day. It is expected that todays race will kick off at a high pace as the front riders try to speed away into the escape group. However, the puncheurs, cyclists who prefer rolling terrain and short hard climbs, are expected to get back into the race before the final climb. Only 12.5km from the finish of the stage the Cote des Bastides and uncategorised Col de la Gineste are great sections for the explosive climbers. They are strong enough to stretch the bunch but the climbs are not long or difficult enough to allow the specialists climbers to streak away.
Barry Hoban said: “I used to spend a lot of time on training camps in and around Cagnes-sur-Mer. The roads through to Marseille roll up and down but they’re not hard enough to see the sprinters shaken out of the bunch. They do offer breakaways a good chance of going the distance, though.” (www.cyclingnews.com)