Stage 7 of the 2021 Tour de France is the longest in this year’s race, measuring 249.1 kilometers. The hilly terrain between Vierzon and Le Creusot looks ideally suited to a breakaway and, after a clutch of sprint stages and uphill finishes contested by the puncheurs and GC riders, provides the perfect chance for riders like Campenaerts to shine.
Qhubeka NextHash have not come close to winning a Tour de France stage yet but the team did pick up three victories in the recent Giro d’Italia, with Campenaerts himself winning stage 15 after an aggressive day of racing in the breakaway.
The team do not have a genuine GC rider on their roster for the Tour de France this year, with Sergio Henao their best-placed rider in 24th place at 3:55.
According to the UCI World Hour Record holder, all eight riders on the team will fight to be in the break on Friday.
"I hope to be in the breakaway," the Belgian said under blue skies at the start.
"I think that everyone on the team has the same objective – to be in the break. That gives us a really good advantage as it means that we’re not gambling on one rider to cover the moves all the time."
With the stage profile suiting a break, Campenaerts expects a huge battle just to make it into the main selection of the day, especially with two hard stages in the Alps coming at the weekend.
However, he also admitted that the final second-category climb of the Signal d’Uchon, a 5.7km ascent with pitches that touch 18 per cent, will be the most important moment of the long stage.
"It could take 40 to 60 kilometers before the break is formed. It could be a long battle," he said.
"Then at the end, it’s quite a hard climb, I have to say. It will be nice to see some Classics guys in the front. They’ll have to battle it out at the end on the very steep part of the climb."
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