After the tense, tactical battle among the overall contenders in the Pyrenees, the sprinters were expected to dominate proceedings on the road to Montpellier on stage 15 of the Tour de France. The 193km route through Languedoc may be predominantly flat, but the crosswinds that characterise the region might well split the peloton on the fast run-in to the finish.
Jeered at the start in the Vendée two weeks ago, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was cheered enthusiastically as he signed on just before the start, but the most raucous shouts were reserved for Thomas Voeckler (Europcar). The Frenchman’s stirring defence of his yellow jersey in the Pyrenees has stoked home hopes of victory, and the crowds thronged around his team bus before the off.
To see Cyclingnews’ exclusive gallery from the start line, click here.