SAINT-POURCAIN-SUR-SIOULE, France: Saturday’s 14th stage of the Tour de France, the last before the much anticipated ride to the legendary Mont Ventoux, sees the race return to Lyon for the first time in a decade.
After a week that was tailor-made for the sprinters and time-triallists, the 191-kilometre ride from the small town of Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule — welcoming the Tour for the first time — features a whole host of climbs that should open up the stage to a ‘puncheur’.
There will be seven ascents altogether, two of them category three climbs, including the 6.3km long Col du Pilon.
In addition, the category four climb of the Croix-Rousse, in Lyon itself, comes just 10km from the finish.
It could be a day for the hosts to break their duck and record a first stage win in this year’s race, particularly if Thomas Voeckler is in the mood, although it may also prove an opportunity for Peter Sagan to reinforce his lead in the race for the green jersey after Mark Cavendish won Friday’s stage 13.
Meanwhile, overall race leader Chris Froome will be hoping for a trouble-free day after losing 1min 9sec on Bauke Mollema and Alberto Contador in the general classification on Friday.
When the Tour last visited Lyon, on the banks of the River Rhone, in 2003, Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi triumphed in a sprint finish.
France’s third-largest city has hosted the Tour 16 times before, including the finish to the first ever stage in 1903, when Maurice Garin triumped on his way to becoming the first overall Tour victor.
Saturday’s stage begins at 1040 GMT and is due to finish just before 1530 GMT.