A very difficult stage for the big teams to police, writes Jack Houghton, meaning a breakaway might claim the day again
"Heading down towards the Pyrenees, the wind's name has changed - the Mistral has become the Tramontane - but the effect will be the same: carnage in the peloton..."
What's the stage like?
This looks like a sprint stage, but much like Stage 12, it is more complicated than those appearances suggest.
First, at 220km, it is long and, coming this far in to the Tour after a series of punishing days, that will mean fatigued riders who won't necessarily ride to the form we expect of them.
Second, it's hillier than it seems. Although there is only one categorised climb, there are half-a-dozen or so ascending sections that will make it hard for the sprint teams to control.
Third, it's another day - like Stage 10 and Stage 12, where winds might play a part in the outcome. Heading down towards the Pyrenees, the wind's name has changed - the Mistral has become the Tramontane - but the effect will be the same: carnage in the peloton.
These kinds of stages in this part of France have tended to go the way of the breakaway.
Who are the favourites?
For all the reasons outlined on previous sprint stages, Mark Cavendish (5.004/1) is the clear favourite. Should his team be able to deliver him to the finish in contention, then he would be a shoo-in to take the stage win. But as we saw at the start of Stage 12, his team might well calculate that the cost of policing a breakaway is too great to make the investment, especially with Cavendish's survival in the mountainous stages to come their priority.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Wout Van Aert (15.0014/1) is high up in several lists, but for the same reasons that Cavendish might struggle here, Van Aert will too. No one will want to let him in a breakaway, and his team now have more important priorities than bringing back breakaways.
The best approach, then, is to keep stakes minimal on this unpredictable stage and support a rider at big odds who may profit from the breakaway. Casper Pedersen (100.0099/1) is the choice. He was fifth on a breakaway stage in the 2020 Tour and his team, Sunweb, have specialised in claiming these types of days - but it's a bet of speculation rather than expectation.
What effect will it have on the overall markets?
Crosswinds always mean there is the chance of winners and losers in the General Classification, but provided they survive these, this stage shouldn't have a significant impact.
If it does end in a bunch sprint, that will affect the Points Classification, but I rather suspect that this will be a quiet day for all the jerseys.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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