Thursday, July 4, 2013

Stage 7 Preview 2013 Tour De France

Stage 7 continues west and cuts inland to Albi

Stage 7 is another rolling, medium mountain stage. It is also another 200+km stage, and is the last chance for a non-climber to snatch the maillot jaune. The following day, stage 8 will end with the mountaintop finish at Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees, where the climbers get their first chance to take over. But first, they must survive the 205 kilometers of stage 7 from Montpellier to Albi on another hot, sunny day. 

The number of injured riders in the peloton suggests that we may see more getting dropped tomorrow, if not tomorrow, then certainly on Saturday. Already, several teams have lost key men to injuries and illness: Lotto Belisol lost their leader, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, who suffered a knee injury in stage 5. (Too bad, I had high hopes for the Dutch All-rounder.)

Team Astana have already lost three of their nine riders: first Kashechkin and Kessiakoff, and now Janez Brajkovic—Fuglsang’s main man for the mountains, and an overall threat himself. 

The stage 7 route and key points

FDJ lost their top sprinter, Nacer Bouhanni, and Ag2R said goodbye to Maxime Bouet on stage 6, too. The Garmin-Sharp Team is hobbled, with Ryder Hesjedal, their de facto leader going into the race, riding on a broken rib and teammate Christian Vande Velde also recovering from crash injuries. They still have the Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin cards to play, but we will find out on Saturday who won’t be competing for overall victory.

Four categorized climbs populate the bulk of the middle of stage 7.  None are particularly tough, though. The category-2 Col de la Croix de Mounis is the toughest on the stage, and it is passed with over 100k left to ride.


Each climb offers a viable attack spot in my opinion. We will see if an early break goes on the first climb, how much time they are given before the peloton starts to reel them in. With a big mountain finish coming the next day, I would not be surprised to see attacks on any or all of the categorized climbs on stage 7.

Stage 7 Profile

This is a good stage for mountain jersey chasers to try and wrest the polka dots off of Pierre Roland’s back.  At the end of the day however, I believe the sprinters will chase down the break and force another bunch sprint, because the last little climb comes with 35k still left to the finish.  

My pick: Mark Cavendish. He was angry after missing out on stage 6, and you can bet that his Omega Pharma team will be focused and determined to give the Manxman a great leadout in Albi.

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