On paper this looks like being a day for a bunch finish but it’s not guaranteed and you don’t have to delve too far back into Tour history to discover why. After passing Montpellier, the final 50 kilometres or so of the stage are played out on the coast, and it was a short distance to the east of here that in 2009 HTC-Columbia blew the race apart on Stage 3 into La Grande Motte by using the wind to their advantage and dominating a small front group after echelons formed, setting up Mark Cavendish for the second of his six stage wins that year.
Bastille Day inevitably means French riders going on the attack, and the racing should be frantic from the start as breaks try to get away. David Moncoutié was the last home rider to win on the Fête Nationale in 2005 when he took the victory in Digne Les Bains, but this seems more a day for someone like Cavendish, himself the winner of a Quatorze Juillet stage in Issoudun in 2009, although sprinters will have to ensure they aren’t dropped by the main group on the Category 3 Mont Saint-Clair a little over 20km from the line.
Geraint Thomas says: I think it should be a big group finish but if the wind is up then it could split things up, it’s definitely long enough along the coast to the finish and there’s no rest, after Montpellier it’s in the wind all the way to the finish. So there will be a lot of guys who will be really attentive around there, and there’s a few GC guys who could miss out if it all does blow apart. It will be a sprint of some sort, 30-odd men if the race has split, otherwise it will be a big old bunch kick again. Once echelons have formed, even if it doesn’t look like there is much distance between them on TV, it’s almost impossible to bridge across because everyone is going full gas. You’re doing 600 or 700 watts on the front so to jump across you’d need to be doing 800, something like that. It doesn’t look far, but as soon as you try you realise you need a few guys with you to do it.
To find out more about the stages on this year's race check out our full 2012 Tour de France Preview with full analysis of every stage plus tips from Geraint Thomas
Fantasy Cycling Tour de France Stage 13 transfer window shuts at 10.45am
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.