Friday, 8 July 2011

#TDF Stage 7 Surely some's flat

There is surely some mistake that this stage has cropped up in the 2011 Tour de France. It finishes on broad roads and is a flat stage, with no kick up to the finish. However, we leave Le Mans more famous for motorsport but no stranger to the Tour having been a stage town on seven previous occasions, heading south to Châteauroux, the birthplace of Gérard Depardieu. It is also the first place that a shy Manxman first won a stage of the Tour, that was 16 wins and just three years ago in 2008.

This is the sort of stage that HTC Highroad love to give a lead out to their man Mark Cavendish. Where is the handicap against their team and man today?

Well there is something of a shock. The intermediate sprint comes only 26 km from the finish. This is the sort of distance that the peleton is usually thinking of capturing the breakaway. So here lies the dilemma either they are working still to capture here and don't really use the big trains to get their sprinters in position, or they line up their sprinters and hope to recover control again in 26km to do it all again, and hope their sprinter has recovered enough, or they aim to capture early and do it all again.

People should not forget that Mark Cavendish was a Madison, Points and Scratch race rider on the track he's used to sprinting and then putting in another spurt. He may well be capable of picking up 64 points for winning both sprints today. So I say expect HTC, possibly with the help of others complete the capture at 30 km. There will be a number of attempts to escape in the final 25 km, but the teams will bring them back in for another bunch sprint.

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