Tour de France - Stage Seven guide: Cavendish gears up
Briton Mark Cavendish will be the overwhelming favourite for the seventh stage, a 218-kms ride from Le Mans that should be decided in a bunch sprint.
Stage 7 – Fri, 8 July – Le Mans-Chateauroux - 218km
Details: The flattest stage of the 2011 Tour, stage seven starts in the motor racing mecca of Le Mans after a 200km transfer from the previous day's finish in Lisieux. It has 'transitional' written all over it and will give the sprinters one final chance of glory in the first week of the race before the weekend ushers in the medium mountains.
Watch out for: Crosswinds – they're not guaranteed, but if the weather's not great then this is the only threat to the peloton in what should be a pretty rudimentary day in the saddle.
Prediction: There's about as much chance of a breakaway sticking today as there is a Frenchman winning the whole race. Provided all the pure sprinters are on their best form, then this should be a battle royale between speed merchants Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) and Mark Cavendish (HTC). But even running on 80 per cent, Cav should take this one.
History: Cavendish's first ever stage victory on the Tour came at Chateauroux in 2008 while a decade earlier, on the Tour's only other finish in the birth-town of actor Gerard Depardieu, it was the Italian Mario Cipollini who took the win. Conclusion: only the fastest win in Chateauroux.