Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo (197km)
Tuesday, July 9 6:55 A.M. EDT – 11:12 A.M. EDT
Live Coverage sponsored by Clif Bar
After three tough stages and a long transfer, the Tour de France continues in Bretagne with a stage tailor-made for the sprinters. There isn’t much to report on the 197 kilometers from Saint-Gildas-Des-Bois to Saint-Malo, and anything but a bunch sprint will be a huge surprise. The Tour has seen seven stage finishes here, with sprints won by the likes of Walter Godefroot and Patrick Sercu.
The wind can be a factor, however. The final 25km take place alont the coast and with a strong northeasterly wind, we could see the peloton split up as the riders are getting tired. The GC riders don’t want to lose anymore time before Wednesday’s time trial and everybody wants to be in front. This should make for another nervous finish and we can be thankful it isn’t very technical.
There isn’t a single corner in the last 5km and we should see a tailwind help to keep the speed high at all time. A long, straight finish like this is great for the real power sprinters like André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who both have the stage-win monkey off their backs. It all comes down to the final leadout. Both Greipel and Kittel are close to impossible to pass at high speed, if their trains are working well, and it will be a tough fight to take the front of the race.
We can put it like this: If Lotto-Belisol gets the lead with 2km to go, Greipel will most likely win the stage and if Argos gets the lead, Kittel will surely take it.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is probably the only rider able to get a jump on the two strong Germans. The expected tailwind will favor a rider trying to open up the sprint early and after missing out the last two times, Cavendish must be eager to take revenge. He’ll need the tailwind to surprise the big trains and take his second win of the 100th Tour.
Saluting the 100th Tour
After a plane transfer and a rest day at Saint-Nazaire, the Tour heads into western France for a magnifcent finish beneath Saint-Malo’s ramparts. The stage was designed with tradition in mind, and will honor the memory of Louison Bobet and pay tribute to Bernard Hinault. This 100th edition of the Tour will feature another great symbol of French pride: for the first time, the riders will pass through the heart of the Coëtquidan military camp, where the elite cadets from the Saint-Cyr military school will line up to honor the riders. Then it will likely be a day for the sprinters to rocket home.