Tour de France Course Report and Prediction
The organizers of the Tour de France seem to have cottoned on to the formula that their counterparts of the Tours of Italy and Spain have settled on to make their races more competitive and interesting.
The 2013 Tour de France will feature fewer sprint stages than usual and more hilly stages, which should produce more aggressive racing. The race will have six mountain stages, four with summit finishes, a team time trial, and two individual time trials, one of which is a mountain time trial. The Tour de France is never easy, but this year’s edition might dole out more than the usual amount of pain.
The 100 th Tour de France will begin on Corsica, the only department of metropolitan France that the La Grande Boucle has never visited. The first three stages will occur on the hilly, twisting, turning roads of the island. Stage 1 will be a flat, 213-km run from Porto Vecchio to Bastia. A sprinter should take this stage, but a bunch sprint is unlikely for Stage 2, a 156-km ride from Bastia to Ajaccio, Napoleon Bonaparte’s birthplace. The ride will feature two Category 3 ascents, one 12 km from the finish, and two Category 2 climbs that should shell many of the sprinters. Stage 3, a 145.5-km ride from Ajaccio to Calvi, will feature four categorized climbs, including a Category 2 ascent 14 km from the finish. This stage should be taken by a small group of escapees.
Stage 4 will take place in Nice. The flat, 25-km team time trial will be the first opportunity for teams to demonstrate their strength. Sky, Garmin-Sharp, and BMC should fight for the win.
Stage 5 will be a rolling, 228.5-km run from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseilles, should be won in a bunch sprint. Stage 6, a flat, 176.5-km run from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, should be decided the same way. The following stage, a 176.5-km ride from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, will have four categorized climbs—two Category 2s, a Category 3, and a Category 4—that might embolden escapees. The bunch, however, should reel them in and set up a sprint.
Stage 8 will be the 2013 Tour’s first Pyrenean stage. The 195-km ride from Castres to Ax 3 Domaines will feature the hors categorie Col de Pailheres and the Category 1 ascent to the finish. This stage and the following one, a 168.5-km ride from Saint Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre that will feature four Category 1 climbs before a downhill run to the finish, will leave no doubts about who is a contender. The first of the race’s two rest days will follow Stage 9.
After leaving the Pyrenees, the Tour will move to Brittany for Stages 10 and 11. The former will be a flat, 197-km run from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo that should end in a sprint, while the latter will be a flattish, 33-km individual time trial from Avranches to Mont Saint-Michel. Riders such as Christopher Froome (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC) should excel in the race of truth.
From Brittany, the riders will head southeast toward the Alps. Stage 12 will be a flat, 218-km ride from Fougeres to Tours, while Stage 13, which will begin in Tours and end in Saint-Amand-Montrond, will also be flat but “only” 173 km in length. Stage