The end of the beginning
This stage marks the halfway point of the Tour but the sprinters will have already past most of their winning opportunities. After today, the only two stages where they will be expecting to get a look-in are in Montpellier and 11 days down the line on the Champs-Elysées. Consequently, it will be a surprise if they allow this stage to elude them. That said, there will be many baroudeurs who have come up with a similar assessment of their own prospects, unless they are the kind of breakaway specialist who can stay the pace on seriously big climbs. A bunch finish… probably.
Distance: 167.5 km
Highest point: 346m
Bernhard Eisel says...
"The last stage before the Pyrenees and that always means breaks. For us, there's a balance to be struck because we'll have Tony Martin for GC. We'll want him to have an easy day if possible, so I'll be busy trying to enlist help from elsewhere."
Matt White says...
"A day for the pure sprinters but maybe the last until Paris. A bottle royale for the speedsters."