Raven’s Terrible Tour Textbook: Stage 7

The last ‘easy’ stage before two mountain stages sees the riders ‘stroll’ through a ‘nice’ 213.5km route from Troyes south to Nuits-Saint-Georges. But as we know, cycling isn’t just a walk in the park – because that’s hard to do with cleats on. 

The Course

The course from Troyes basically goes due South as the crow flies for 200-ish kilometers, before cutting around just after Dijon and the riders sprint North into Nuits-Saint-Georges. In terms of points on offer, there is one sprint point and one Cat 4 climb on the day. The riders do slowly climb through the start of the stage on false flats, all the way to around kilometer 85. There are a few lumps in the road along the Seine which are uncategorised, while the sprint point into Chanceaux features a fast descent with two hairpin corners with 1800m to go, as well as an uphill kicker over the line.

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The intermediate sprint tomorrow looks to me as the most interesting part of the stage. Source: Le Tour.

The Côte d’Urcy is the only KoM of the day, and at 2.5km at 4.2%, it isn’t particularly difficult either. The climb is steeper at the start compared to the end relying on the Strava profile of the climb, but it’ll hardly put anyone in difficulty. In fact, Stage 7 might see riders conserve some energy before two tough mountain stages ahead before the rest day, so the attacks and chases might be a bit slower than expected, while general competition at action points might be lower. The finish into Nuits-Saint-Georges is pan flat if slightly on a downhill, and features a dogleg with 150m to go. Nothing awfully technical as the riders go straight for the 5.5km before the line, and should just really be a true power sprint into the small commune.

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213.5km of not much, really. Gonna be pretty though, always is in France. Source: Le Tour.

The Weather

Tomorrow’s stage will be the last dry stage we will see until after the rest day, with rain expected to come in for Stage 8. However, for tomorrow at least, the riders will have a pleasant ride in clear sky’s and a slight headwind of 8kmh. The temperature is expected to be quite warm at 33C, and with the wind coming from the South it will feel hotter than that. The wind also rotates around from a headwind to a tailwind at the finish, which means a downhill sprint becomes a blistering tailwind downhill sprint, and one of the fastest we will see this Tour (even if riders might conserve a little bit more than usual).

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It’s now getting a bit warm for my liking, but rain is on the way in France. Source: Google (via weather.com).

The GC Situation

No incidents in today’s stage means that GC is unchanged. It’ll be unlikely that they will change into Nuits-Saint-Georges, but Stages 8 and 9 could bring a potentially big shakeup as riders test their legs before the first rest day.

Top 10 GC Contenders

  1. Christopher Froome (Team Sky) – 23:44:33
  2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) – 12″
  3. Fabio Aru (Astana) – 14″
  4. Dan Martin (Quickstep) – 25″
  5. Richie Porte (BMC) – 39″
  6. Simon Yates (Orica) – 43″
  7. Romain Bardet (AG2R) – 47″
  8. Alberto Contador (Trek) – 52″
  9. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) – 54″
  10. Rafal Majka (Bora) – 1’01”
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Skybot evolution achieved. Skill: Running acquired. One more day in Yellow until next level up. Source: CyclingNews.

My Prediction

Marcel Kittel again today proved he is the strongest sprinter of the peloton at this year’s Tour, but Arnaud Demare gave him a good run for his money, while the 1-2 Dimension Data combo of Edvald Boasson Hagen and Mark Renshaw rode powerfully but not tactically. If the Dimension Data duo brush up on tactics, either one of them is a possibility for a podium. Alexander Kristoff and Nacer Bouhanni both just missed out on podium spots again into Troyes and will be hoping for some improvement. My pick for the day, however, is with the other big German, Andre Greipel. I picked him earlier in the race where he didn’t win, but with some luck (ie. your main lead out man not getting a mechanical 5km out) he should win into Nuits-Saint-Georges. His big frame means he can make the most of the tailwind finish, while the long straight sprint normally favours riders of his stature. Can the Gorilla break his 3rd place curse at this year’s Tour tomorrow? I think so.

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Smells like a stage win to Sagan, looks like a stage win to me. Source: YouTube (Combat Wagers)

~ The Cycling Raven