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Tour de France Stage 7 Preview
Friday, July 2
249.1km (flat, then hilly)
The longest day—but not boring!
At almost 250 kilometers, this is the longest Tour stage in 21 years. It’s like two stages in one. The first half heads due east on flat terrain, where a big breakaway is sure to form. The second half through the Morvan forest features five climbs with almost no respite between them. The finish town of Le Creusot was chosen because of the Signal d’Uchon, a new climbing test for the Tour. Its difficulty is concealed by its statistics (5.7 kilometers at 5.7 percent), which are modified by a short descent in the middle. The last 1,500 meters average 11.5 percent with a maximum pitch of 18 percent. Beyond it, only 18 kilometers remain to the finish, with one final climb on the way. The stage win will probably be fought between the breakaway riders, but the GC men will also have to be on their best climbing form—knowing that a weekend in the Alps is coming up.
With significant time gaps created by defending champion Tadej Pogačar in Wednesday’s time trial, expect some aggressive tactics from his GC challengers, especially Julian Alaphilippe, Alexey Lutsenko, Rigoberto Urán, Richard Carapaz and Primož Roglič. There are no more sprint stages until next Tuesday, so Deceuninck-Quick-Step will work hard to create an opportunity for Alaphilippe to attack (possibly with others) on the Signal d’Uchon; INEOS Grenadiers will likely make Pogačar’s UAE Emirates team work hard to control Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas in any move, with Carapaz ready to counter-attack; and Jumbo-Visma has eighth-place Jonas Vingegaard to help set up Roglič for a possible move. Although it’s a very long stage, over six hours, it won’t be boring!
After 2.7km in streets of Le Creusot, at the end of a 1,600m straight on the 23 feet wide Avenue du Stade Jean-Garnier.
SCHEDULE (all times EDT)
Ceremonial start, Rue du Général de Gaulle, Vierzon: 5:00 a.m.; start (after 6.6km neutral to km0), 5:15 a.m.; Baugy (192.5km to go), 6:34 a.m.; Nevers (157.3km to go); Saint-Benin d’Azay (sprint, 133.7km to go), 7:56 a.m.; Côte de Château-Chinon (cat. 3, 87.6km to go), 9:03 a.m.; Côte de Glux-en-Gienne (Cat. 4, 70.9km to go), 9:30 a.m.; Côte de la Croix de la Libération (Cat. 3, 35.3km to go), 10:28 a.m.; Signal d’Uchon (Cat. 2 + bonus, 18.1km to go), 10:58 a.m.; Côte de la Gourloye (Cat. 4, 7.9km to go), 11:12 a.m.; Le Creusot (finish, 249.1km), 11:22 a.m.
Analysis by Thierry Gouvenou and John Wilcockson.