Warm sunshine, a favorable breeze and a completely flat stage Monday are all the ingredients needed for a stage of record speed. And for Tour stages longer than 200km that means the 48.764 kph average of 1998’s stage of 205.5km from Tarascon to Le Cap d’Agde won by Tom Steels. The absolute Tour stage record speed is the 50.355 kph set by Mario Cipollini on the 194.5km stage from Laval to Blois in 1999.
Cipollini is, unfortunately, not at this year’s Tour, but Steels is. Ordinarily, Mapei-Quick Step’s big Belgian would be the favorite to win Monday in his own country, but on Sunday he showed