July 08, 2011
Stage 7 Preview: 218 km Le Mans to Chateauroux
From the Tour's longest stage on Thusday to the flattest on Friday, Stage 7 ends in Chateauroux, where HTC sprinter Mark Cavendish took his first stage win back in 2008.
If Cavendish really wants to take 5-7 stages of this year's Tour, as he said before the race, he's going to need today's stage. A win here would also be a big help for Cav in the green jersey competition before the race moves into the mountains, where Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd are likely to find opportunities to collect points while Cavendish rides in the grupetto.
It's a stage with no real features to speak of. Johnny Hoogerland will hold the KoM jersey for another day if he can make the finish, with no mountains points on offer. The sprint configuration is interesting, with the "intermediate" sprint coming with 192.5 km ridden, just 25 k/15.5 miles from the finish. Will HTC let a breakaway stay away through the intermediate sprint, or contest two sprints in 16 miles?
Cavendish is the favorite, with Farrar, Galimzyanov, or Feillu possible alternates if HTC misfires.