To the very heart of France
At today's finish the riders will be close to the geographical centre of France and if you're a wine buff there is plenty to distract you, with Sancerre just one of the many local vintages worth investigating. On the road, there's not too much to get het up about and once again a bunch gallop is the most likely scenario at the finish. Naturally, the peloton's baroudeurs will be hoping to prevent that eventuality but today's escapees will have to bear in mind that this is likely to be the last chance the top sprinters have to take centre stage until the Champs-Elysées more than a week down the line. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that by then the green jersey might be on the shoulders of a rider who wouldn't be seen anywhere near the sharp end of a bunch sprint, such is the mountainous nature of what has already gone and what lies ahead. A mountain time trial, three summit finishes and testing days into Lyon, Gap and Le Grand Bornand might even persuade some sprinters to bail out after this.
Stephen Roche: "Last time we were here was to see Carlos Sastre sew up the 2008 Tour title in the final time trial. We'll see something very different today, almost certainly a bunch sprint as I don't think the likes of Cavendish and Greipel have another chance to win until they reach Paris."
Carlos Sastre went into the final time trial of the 2008 Tour between Cérilly and St-Amand-Montrond with only a small advantage over Cadel Evans. However, rather than taking bites out of the Spanish veteran's lead of 1:34, the Australian only nibbled it, ending up 1:05 shy of Sastre, who claimed his only grand tour title.
Maps and profiles courtesy of ASO