Stage 12 – Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes – 159.4km – Thursday, July 8
After two climbs (and descents) of Mont Ventoux during the 11th stage, the peloton takes a bit of a break with a 159 km stage from flat to flat from Saint Paul Trois Châteaux to Nîmes – and it should end in a sprint field.
Depending on the weather, once the peloton veers south at Vallon Pont d’Arc, the roads are more open and the wind can be merciless. There is a potential for crosswinds here, ladders can occur and the riders in the peloton should be careful. Positioning will be decisive.
However, a breakaway filled with runners looking for TV time should get away early and stay clear on the only categorized climb of the day at 84 km (Category 3 Côte du Pic Saint Loup).
The Intermediate Sprint of the day in Uzès arrives late in the stage – 27 km from the finish – and presents an interesting choice for teams of sprinters: let the breakaway hang and collect the maximum number of points offered, or catch them before Uzès in the hope of letting their sprinters take the points themselves?
The race to Nîmes is downhill with two difficult turns between 3 and 2 km from the finish. A hard right-hander inside the red kite makes positioning important; runners who apply their brakes will likely lose too many places to recover before the finish line.
Riders to watch out for
With one more victory, Briton Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) would equalize Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in Tour de France history. Deceuninck-Quick Step ran perfectly in support of his attempt to catch (and overtake) Merckx, and he is the big favorite in Nimes (a city in which he has already won). Other riders to watch out for are Belgian Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic).
When to watch
With the story in play, you don’t want to miss the end of stage 12. If you have time, tune in around 10:45 am EST as things could be exciting from the Intermediate Sprint in Uzès until the end. Otherwise, wait another fifteen minutes for the final sprint on the field in Nîmes. But beware: the riders covered the last 50 kilometers in less than an hour on Tuesday, and this stage could also have a quick final.
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