Tour de France: Stage 11: Carcassonne – Montpellier

Following a tough few days in the mountains, the sprinters get a chance to stretch their legs on a relatively flat stage as the field approaches the city of Montpellier.

While the profile makes this stage look fairly benign, the riders will need to be weary of the howling Mistral which can cause absolute chaos in the main field as is tears down through the Alps.

To Win Stage
Marcel Kittel 15/10 | Mark Cavendish 9/4 | Andre Greipel 9/2 | Bryan Coquard 11/1 | Peter Sagan 15/1

The Contenders

Marcel Kittel 15/10
Kittel's only stage victory this year came at Limoges on stage five, and he'll be looking to build on that. The German Ettixx-Quick-Step rider will be banking on a strong lead-out train in the last 700 metres or so, although he'll have to keep an eye on his own back wheel for the likes Mark Cavendish and Bryan Coquard.

Mark Cavendish 9/4
The Cav has been absolutely world class in the bunch sprints at this year's tour, already claiming victories on stage one, three and six. The Dimension Data man has shown that he doesn't really need any sort of assistance from his teammates and will be firmly fixed on the wheel of either Kittel or Andre Greipel - he's a massive runner today.

Andre Greipel 9/2
Greipel is the only one of the big three sprinters who hasn't won a stage yet, and time is running out for the man they call Gorilla. He's a definite contender today, although one has to question what sort of frame of mind he's in following a disappointing start to the Tour.

The Route
This is probably one of the most beautiful non-mountain stages on this year’s Tour de France, a real treat if you’re watching on television – not so much if you’ve just survived a horrid three days in the Pyrenees. The south of France is famed for its endless vineyards and sunflower fields, although, with that said, the favourites will need to be weary of splits in the peloton, especially if the crosswind gets up.

One thing that the field will have in the back of their minds is the wind. I’ve done a bit of homework and looked at the weather for the regions along tomorrow’s stage. While the Mistral doesn’t look like it’ll be tearing down the Alps and through the Rhone Valley on its way to the Mediterranean, the field will have to deal with gusts of up to 40kmph around the Magalas region.

All that said, there are two pretty gentle category four climbs early on in the stage, so we may well see the Thibaut Pinot go with the breakaway to claim more King of the Mountains points. The first of these climbs is the Côte de Minerve (2.4 kilometres long at a 5.4% gradient). The second is the Côte de Villespassans (2.3 kilometres-long at 4.5%).

The intermediate sprint can be found at the 113.5-kilometre mark – Sagan in the breakaway perhaps? Seems unlikely but you can’t rule it out. All in all, I don’t think this will be a very exciting stage – as many of the sprinters’ stages tend to follow the same formula: Breakaway goes early, then the breakaway is reeled back in by the likes of Lotto-Soudal, Direct Energie and Dimension Data followed by a bunch sprint to the line which one of the big three invariably wins.

Verdict: Mark Cavendish 9/4
I can't stop backing the man, especially with the form he's been in. This is the ideal sort of terrain for the big man. If he can negotiate the possible crosswind, he's in with a massive chance.  

Value Bet: Bryan Coqaurd 11/1
This is another one that I've been harping on about for a while now. The Frenchman is a quality sprinter and has shown that he can mix it up with the best. He'll also be desperate for a stage victory, and today could just be his chance. Definitely worth a go at 11/1.

Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.

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