Friday, July 13, 2012

Tour Preview - Stage 13

This is a stage for the sprinters. It surprises me that ASO decided to give this day to the fast guys and didn’t throw in a couple of climbs so the French riders could attack and hope for a stage win on Bastille Day - or La Fête Nationale as they call it in France. Any attacks seem doomed on this stage, but I won’t go as far as saying we will get a regular mass sprint. Because the race organizers have been a tricky after all.

25 km from the line the riders have to climb Mont Saint-Clair. You may not think much of this climb, being just a category 3, but trust me it’s nasty! It’s just under two kilometers long but the average percentage is 10,2% with parts up to 20% - not exactly in favor of the heavy sprinters like Haedo, Van Hummel, Hutarovich etc.

The beginning of Mont Saint-Clair. 1,6 km - 10,2 %
If the Mont Saint-Clair wasn’t tricky enough the final kilometer certainly is! With only a few hundred meters to go the peloton bends right in 180° corner just before hitting the final stretch to the line. Andre Greipel will have a hard time getting his whole Lotto-Belisol leadout train over the steep Mont Saint-Clair and it will also be difficult for them to deliver him perfectly in the end. That 180° corner means that you need to slow down a little and Greipel likes it best when he can be delivered in high speed.

Instead the finish suits Peter Sagan a lot more since he is good at accelerating from low speed plus he won’t lose any positions in the tricky bend. Sagan is also one of the sprinter that shouldn’t be in trouble on Mont Saint-Clair. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if Liquigas decide to put pressure on the peloton to see if they drop some of the sprinters before the finish.

If you are looking for a joker, look to Team Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank and Danish Michael Mørkøv. This year Mørkøv has shown that he really knows how to get in the right break and you can be sure that he will try again tomorrow. Saturday it’s exactly five years ago since his father died and Michael Mørkøv has said that he wants to honor him by winning in Le Cap d'Agde. I doubt Mørkøv will be able to pull it off, but I’m sure he will manage to show himself up the roads before the finish.

Winner pick: Peter Sagan
Joker: Michael Mørkøv

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