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Tour de France 2021: Stage 13 preview

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Tour de France 2021 stage 13 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)
Image 2 of 2

Tour de France 2021 stage 13 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)

Stage 13: Nîmes - Carcassonne

Date: July 9, 2021 

Distance: 219.9km

Stage timing: 12:05 - 17:15 CEDT

Stage type: Flat

Stage 13 preview video

This looks like a standard 'transition' stage between the Alps and the Pyrenees, an ideal day for a breakaway to slip away from the peloton early on in the stage, build up a big enough lead to ensure they stay clear, and then dispute the day’s spoils between them.

Yet, this corridor between the rugged interior of the Occitanie region and the Mediterranean/Pyrenees is one of Europe’s most consistently windy areas, so the scenario may not prove to be as straightforward as this.

From Nîmes, the stage starts to the west through the garrigue, rough limestone terrain covered with low scrub that’s often raked by strong winds. It would, however, be surprising if the bunch were to split this early in a stage that extends to 220km.

There’s just one categorised climb on the route, the fourth-cat Côte de Pic Saint-Loup, to the north of Montpellier. Travelling south-west, the next key rendezvous is at the intermediate sprint in Fontès, just before the halfway point.

Passing to the north of Béziers and Narbonne, the route enters the rolling hills of the Minervois, where the wind is more likely to become a factor. At Caunes Minervois, the riders will make a 90-degree turn for the final 20km across the plain that lies between the Montagne Noire and the Pyrenees. The wind frequently barrels through this gap between the mountain ranges, dozens of wind farms testament to its consistency and force.

Coming onto the right shoulder of the riders, the most opportunist teams may attempt to raise the speed at the front of the bunch in the hope of provoking splits. The race is, after all, not too far from the roads where Thibaut Pinot and Tadej Pogačar lost time in the crosswinds in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014). 

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