Tour de France 2016 Stage 11 preview: Carcassonne - Montpellier, 264 km

The ancient city of Carcassonne is a relative rarity as a host town at the Tour – this will be the ninth year the race has arrived – whereas Montpellier is an old haunt of the Tour, having been visited on 30 occasions.

The race heads roughly east and finds two cat 4 hills in the first third of the stage. If the break hasn’t already been established they’ll be just the sort of launch pads to establish the standard sprinter versus breakaway formula. The sprinters won’t have had a decent opportunity since stage 6, meaning the break is likely to be put on a short tether. In this part of the world, the Cers, a regular northwesterly wind could buffet the peloton and give the breakaways just enough margin to make it worthwhile. Depending on the tightness of the green jersey, it could be that the competition leader sends out an advance party to mop up the points at the intermediate sprint at Pezenas with 113km to go. The race approaches Montpellier from the west and describes an upside-down horseshoe shape before entering the city for the flat run to the finish. The more discerning will keep an eye on the wind: if the wind is blowing there could be splits worth exploiting.

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