This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Following the action in the Pyrénées, the riders get a well-deserved rest day, which they will spend in Brittany after a plane transfer from the south-west. The next few days should see the sprinters return to centre stage. Certainly, that looks the case for today's run north to the magnificent walled city of St-Malo.
The route pays tribute to two of France's Tour legends, passing through St-Méen-Le-Grand, birthplace of three-time champion Louison Bobet, and close to Calorguen, where five-time champion Bernard Hinault runs a farm when he isn't focused on protocol duties at ASO's races.
There's just one fourth-category climb on a route that could prove tricky when the riders reach the coast. They will follow the coastal road around the peninsula and into St-Malo, where the race finishes beneath the city's ramparts.
If any sprinter has been dominating up to now, a win here could see them all but seal the points jersey as most of the sprint opportunities will now be behind them.
Barry Hoban: "It's always tough racing in Brittany. There may not be any notable climbs but the roads twist and turn all the way to St-Malo. That is sure to mean there'll be a frantic start as lots of teams will want to be in the break. I think the sprinters might fancy the finish under the ramparts, though."
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The last time St-Malo hosted the Tour was for a stage start in 2008. That day ended in Nantes with a win for Samuel Dumoulin and Romain Feillu in yellow. Perhaps more relevant, is last year's stage of the Tour of Brittany that finished in St-Gildasdes-Bois. The winner? Argos-Shimano sprinter John Degenkolb.
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