Preview: What you need to know about stage 12 of the 2021 Tour de France

Another one for the sprinters.

Photo: Berne Broudy

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Date: Thursday July 8
Start: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux
Finish: Nîmes
Distance: 160 km

With a single third-category climb on the menu, this should be a day for the sprinters. But, in the words of Monsieur Prudhomme, riders will “have to be extra careful: the wind could be a key factor on wide open roads and echelons could occur.”

The finish is very similar to that used in 2019 when Caleb Ewan won stage 16 in a bunch sprint. It should be a straightforward sprint finish: the last corner is more than a kilometer from the finish.

That said, the weather forecast does see a possibility of wind (and rain) for Thursday’s stage. Tricky conditions could complicate things, and teams like Deceuninck-QuickStep will be quick to take advantage of the situation.

What to watch for: The possibility of echelons.

Who’s it for: Sprinters.

Dane Cash’s picks: Should this come down to a sprint, Mark Cavendish looks like a great bet to tie Eddy Merckx’s record for career stage wins at the Tour. Even if the weather conditions force splits, it’s hard to see Deceuninck-QuickStep missing out. Wout van Aert will be a wildcard; he expended enough energy to win stage 11 after two trips up Mont Ventoux on Wednesday, but he did look great in the sprint finale of stage 10. Jasper Philipsen, Nacer Bouhanni, Peter Sagan (particularly if the conditions are tricky), Sonny Colbrelli, and Michael Matthews are among the other riders worth watching for stage 12.

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