Tour de France Stage 13 Preview: A Day for Sprinters or Classics Specialists
Stage 13 – Nîmes to Carcassone – 220km – Friday, July 9
A long, transitional stage across the south of France, Stage 13 brings the Tour to the foothills of the Pyrénées, setting the stage for five hard days of climbing through the weekend and into the Tour’s third and final week.
In another rolling stage, the weather will be hot, and winds could be a factor. A breakaway will escape early and build a comfortable lead, but unlike Thursday’s Stage 12, we expect the peloton to keep it close. Mark Cavendish’s Deceuninck-Quick-Step squad will not want to let another chance for a record-tying stage win slip away. After a hard day Wednesday, the team seemed to treat Stage 12 as an active rest day, showing no interest in bringing back the escapees. But that won’t be the case on Stage 13, especially with the chance that Cavendish doesn’t make it through the Pyrénées.
Wind direction could play a role in the final hour as the peloton winds its way on tight roads toward the finish in Carcassonne. Forecast to be coming from the WNW, the riders should face a straight headwind as they approach Caunes-Minervois (22.4km to go), but then a head/crosswind once they turn left and head down toward Carcassonne.
We could see echelons form here as teams try to pressure Tour-leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and his team. Luckily for Cavendish, he and his team are adept at racing through crosswinds, giving the Manxman an advantage when it comes to winning the stage. Look for the green jersey and his teammates to be in the thick of the action during the final hour, doing whatever they can to blow the race apart.
Doing so would also benefit Quick-Step as the finish in Carcassonne is quite technical. A smaller group will have an easier time navigating the run-in, especially a hard right-hand turn just before the 1km to-go banner and a tight left-hand corner at about 750 meters to go.
Riders to Watch
The record-watch continues as Mark Cavendish remains one win away from tying Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in Tour de France history. After a night spent resting at altitude, Cav’s Deceuninck-Quick Step team seemed to treat Stage 12 as a day off, which means they’ll be fresh and ready to go for it on Stage 13.
Despite the rolling hills and flat finish, never has a stage concluding in Carcassonne finished with a bunched sprint. If played right, this could be another lucky day for Belgium’s Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)—especially if the race breaks apart in the wind. The Belgian has won Tour stages from wind-reduced bunches in the past and could be Cavendish’s biggest rival if the same happens on the run-in to Carcassonne.
When to Watch
Winds could make for an exciting final hour, so if you’ve got the time, tune in around 10:30 a.m. Eastern to see if Quick-Step and other teams manage to split the race into echelons. Otherwise, the riders are expected to begin the run-in to the finish in Carcassonne about half an hour later. Tune in then to see Cavendish try for a record-tying 34th Tour de France stage win.