Stretching for a total of 231km from Fougeres to Chartres, Stage 7 is the longest day in the saddle for the riders at this year’s Tour de France. Featuring just a single categorised climb, this gently undulating path deeper into France looks to be a happy hunting ground for the sprinters once again. The finale itself concludes with a wide finishing straight, against a moderate gradient of 2%, which will make timing the sprint even more crucial if a prevailing headwind is apparent late on.
Fernando Gaviria looks to be the favourite once again, enjoying his first Tour de France in convincing form and equipped with a Quick Step team who cannot help but win. The distance should not be of concern for the Colombian rider, as we have already seen during his earlier career that he can cope with the rigours of Milan – San Remo, a certainly tougher affair than today’s offering.
Arnaud Démare seems to have already fallen down the pecking order of contenders, despite not really having had a chance to demonstrate his great form this season. He was unable to contest the first opportunity to sprint at this year’s race, which was then followed by a powerful drag race on Stage 4 that did not suit his strengths at all. Today’s distance and slight gradient to the line will play into the hands of the Frenchman and could produce a blunt reminder of why he must not be forgotten already.
Dylan Groenewegen has not been at the level many had expected from the Dutchman thus far, with plenty considering this a potential breakthrough grand tour, yet things have not gone his way yet. Regardless, his immense power and positional abilities mark him out as a clear danger in relation to a finish such as this.
Peter Sagan can never be discounted from the win, but seems more like to take another podium finish here instead. The World Champion is eager to get his hands on the green jersey once again and knows that his immense consistency is unmatchable for many, therefore picking up points without risking his safety looks a sound plan on a stage like today.
André Greipel was exceptionally close to pulling off the perfect sprint on Stage 4, yet ran out of steam just before the line while battling against Fernando Gaviria and a testing cross-headwind. The finale today is not ideal for the German powerhouse, yet with 153 professional wins under his belt, it would be foolish to think this is beyond the seasoned campaigner.
1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Fernando Gaviria 3rd Dylan Groenewegen