Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tour de France 2013 : Stage 13 Preview

IT'S another so called transitional stage for the peloton as they face 173km from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

It should mean another bunch sprint, in fact scratch that. It WILL mean another bunch sprint.

Yes a breakaway will go but the sprinters teams will not want an opportunity to slip by so they will be given a short gap and then reeled in before the finish.

There is only categorised climb, the Cat 4 Cote de Crotz, which comes 96km from the end and will not cause any concern to the main favourites.

What will be of concern is the finish, which again has some serious obstacles inside the last km.

First there's a 90 degree left hand turn with around 900km to go. The road then swings right through another 90 degree turn before the third and final sweeping left hand curve with around 450m to go.

The crash in stage 12 will do nothing to calm the nerves in the peloton as GC guys and sprinters alike try to stay at the front of the group.

Whoever manages to do this will then hope to be around that final corner in the first half dozen spots in order to go for the stage win.

Mark Cavendish had a perfect lead out today but quite surprisingly Marcel Kittel proved to be the fastest man.

It is not the first time this tour that the German has got the better of the British Champion and there is bound to be frustration for the Manxman.

I have picked Cav for a few stages simply because he is (was?) the fastest man on two wheels. I do believe he will come good but at the minute Kittel is on top form. It's hard to go against the German again.

It won't be a two horse race though. Andre Greipel was caught up behind the crash and although he got through unscathed, he was out of the final fight. He is the German champion and will not be happy at the spotlight of his home country moving to the young pretender. Expect him to go fast and hard for the win.

The others will all be there again. Peter Sagan was third today with Alexander Kristoff fourth.

Daryl Impey got involved in the sprint for Orica GreenEdge and others who are proving to be good bets for a top 10 are Roberto Ferrari, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Juan Jose Lobato.

The GC guys will hope for a easy and calm finish. Ian Stannard managed to guide Chris Froome through the mayhem and will hope to do so again. Saturday and definitely Sunday will be firmly in their minds and they won't want any problems going into it.

But going back to the stage win, I would say it'll end up being a Germany - England confrontation. And as with our footballing sides, the favourite is probably a German!

And that's without penalties!

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