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Tour de France 2017: Stage 7 preview

More France Profonde, more flat territory, but we're far enough south and away from the mountains that the Tour de France has entered wine country. The peloton leaves the Champagne town of Troyes and heads down to the Burgundian terroir of Nuits-St-Georges, whose rolling fields and alluvium soils are perfect for growing pinot noir.

There's nothing too challenging on the route. From Troyes, the countryside slopes almost invisibly upwards from 108m altitude at the start, to the Plateau de Langres in the Côte-d'Or département 120km away for a high point of 519m. It undulates a bit mid-stage, and the final 50km are flat.

Though the sprinters would probably beg to differ, the 2017 Tour is relatively kind to them in comparison with a few recent editions. It's not just that there are eight or nine possible sprint finishes, which is about half of the road stages, but also that there are opportunities every few days. Yes, the Tour went up the Planche des Belles Filles as early as stage 5, but it was followed by the Troyes stage and this.

Two days in the Jura will put the sprinters out the back, but following the first rest day, there are two more flat stages. The only real slog is across the southern Massif Central – not much chance of bunch kicks in Rodez or Le Puy, but the last 100km of the Romans-sur-Isère stage are downhill. The longest stretch without a sprint stage is four days, from Pau to Le Puy. By comparison, in 2015, between stage seven in Fougères and stage 21 in Paris, every single stage was designated medium or high mountain, plus a TTT. André Greipel managed to tame the Valence stage halfway through that run, but it was a bad year for sprinters.

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