Stage 18 preview

Flatlands finishers

It would be a massive surprise if the sprinters allow this one to get away. The day’s break may as well be on a fishing hook. The pan-flatlands of Les Landes into Bordeaux host the Tour for the 80th time. It’s the race’s most visited location outside Paris and has a long reputation for epic bunch sprints. The long, straight finish on the Quinconces quayside is ideal for a mass finish, although you have go back to Tom Steels in 1999 to find the last sprint win here. The overall contenders will want to stay out of trouble and save energy with tomorrow’s time trial in mind.

Procycling’s favourite to win:

Mark Cavendish has rated Gerald Ciolek as a rider in his own image, with the rare and lethal ability to kick and then kick again coming into a finish. But the young German has not yet delivered on the huge promise he showed when he won his national title as a teenager in 2005 and the world U23 crown the following year. After some success with Columbia, Ciolek has been afflicted by the Milram malaise – lots of potential, few results. A stage win at last year’s Vuelta hinted at better to come. Will we finally get to see it here?

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