Tour de France Stage 12 Preview: a Sprint Finish in Nîmes, We Hope
Stage 12 – Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes – 159.4km – Thursday, July 8
After two trips up (and down) Mont Ventoux during Stage 11, the peloton gets a bit of a break with a 159km flat-to-rolling-to-flat Stage 12, from Saint Paul Trois Châteaux to Nîmes—and it should end in a field sprint.
Weather depending, once the peloton turns south at Vallon Pont d’Arc, the roads are more open and the wind can be merciless. There is potential for crosswinds here, echelons may occur, and riders in the peloton should watch out. Positioning will be pivotal.
However, a breakaway filled with riders looking for TV time should escape early and stay away over the day’s only categorised climb 84km into the stage (the Category 3 Côte du Pic Saint Loup).
The day’s Intermediate Sprint in Uzès comes late in the stage—at 27km to go—and presents an interesting choice for the sprinter’s teams: do they let the breakaway dangle and scoop up the maximum points being offered, or catch them before Uzès in the hopes of letting their sprinters take the points themselves?
The run-in to Nîmes is downhill with two hard corners between 3- and 2-km to-go. A hard right-hander inside the red kite makes positioning important; riders who tap their brakes will likely lose too many places to recover before the finish line.
Riders to Watch
With one more victory, Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) would tie Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in Tour de France history. Deceuninck-Quick Step has raced flawlessly in support of his bid to catch (and pass) Merckx, and he’s the top favorite in Nîmes (a town in which he’s won before). Other riders to watch include Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and France’s Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic).
When to Watch
With history on the line, you don’t want to miss the end of Stage 12. If you’ve got the time, tune in around 16h30, as things could be exciting from the Intermediate Sprint in Uzès all the way to the finish. Otherwise, wait another 15 minutes or so for the final field sprint in Nîmes. But be careful: the riders covered the last 50km in less than an hour on Tuesday, and this stage could have a fast finale as well.