This 207.5km stage is the last of the flats until stage 13, so you can be sure the sprinters will be all over it. The intermediate sprint point comes at 135.5km and the only climb of the day – a Cat 4 – follows less than 10km after it. The final three kilometres have proved treacherous during these sprint-friendly stages; hopefully tonight we’ll break the jinx and have a hard-fought sprint that doesn’t leave us wondering who might have been left on the road and how badly they are injured. The Lotto team will be fired up after Griepel’s second consecutive stage win, but I can’t be alone in wanting to see one last Sagan celebration before the mountains, can I?
We start today in Champagne-Ardenne and finish in the capital of Lorraine. Celebrate the end of the sleep-deprived working week with a glass or two of the region’s eponymous sparkling wine – it would be a pity to waste such a good opportunity, wouldn’t it?
There is no cattle breed specific to this area, however there are a number of cows milk cheeses from the region. This must be where the Prim’holsteins – which make up about 60% of the dairy herd in France – come in.