This is a classic transition stage that heads across the Occitanie region to the edge of the Massif Central and. If the puncheurs don’t get their way, should provide an opportunity for those who make the break.
Heading northeast from Blagnac, a northern suburb of Toulouse and the home of Airbus, the Tour de France stage 14 route runs parallel to last year’s stage 11 from Carcassonne to Montpellier. Don’t expect a repeat of the Peter Sagan and Chris Froome crosswind ambush this time around though - this stage is far further inland, and less susceptible to the wind.
Expect plenty of helicopter shots of the Haute-Languedoc Regional Nature Park as the peloton rolls through Tarn before reaching the lumps in the profile that may turn out to be more demanding than they appear. There’s a considerable net gain in altitude over the course of the stage, from 136 to 563m.
Albi, which lies a few kilometres off the race route, has hosted wins for Eddy Merckx and Peter Sagan.
The rolling hills from that point onwards should further wear legs already tested in the Pyrenees, while a pair of third-category climbs will add further fatigue as the stage enters its final third. An equally tough-looking unclassified climb - a holdover from the last visit to Rodez - lurks just 15km from the finish. There are traps everywhere.
The Tour last visited the Aveyron town, a two-time stage host and home to FDJ climber Alexandre Geniez, two years ago. Then, the cobbled classic rivals Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan sprung from the peloton in the final kilometre to contest victory on the uphill finish of the Côte Saint-Pierre. The Belgian emerged victorious, in what was then a rare victory for him. How times change.
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