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Tour de France - Cycling: Stage 13 preview

Britain's Tom Pidcock scored a sensational first Tour de France stage win on Thursday's Alpe d'Huez finish, the Olympic mountain bike gold medalist reaching the finish 48 seconds ahead of Louis Meintjes with Chris Froome third.

Tadej Pogacar, who lost the yellow jersey on Wednesday, couldn't shake off new leader Jonas Vingegaard as the pair finished line astern in fifth and sixth.

And, after two gruelling days in the mountains the climbers get some respite with a relatively flat stage 13.

It's been 12 days since the sprinters took centre stage but, provided the Alpine climbs haven't taken too much out of them, the speedsters should be fighting out the finish in Saint-Etienne.

WhatTour de France, Stage 13
WhereLe Bourg-d'Oisans to Saint-Etienne (192.6km)
When12:05 UK Time, Friday 15th July
How to watchLive on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+

Stage 13 route details

The route begins in Le Bourg-d'Oisans, in the shadow Alpe d'Huez and winds its way in a westward direction to St-Etienne, home to the football team known as Les Verts.

It had been anticipated that this would be an important stage in the green jersey battle, but such is Wout van Aert's lead in the points classification that it is unlikely to make much of a difference.

Passing through Grenoble and crossing the Rhone valley, the 192km route features a few climbs, and it could be possible for a breakaway to be successful if given enough rope.

However, the final couple of hours of the stage should be flat enough for the sprint-focused teams to bring their main men into contention.

There's an 800-metre run to the finish line, which should set up nicely for a mass sprint finish.

The toughest climb of the day comes just before half-distance. The 5.1km Col de Parmenie is a 6.6 per cent incline and is rated a second-category climb, while a category three ascent - the 6.6km Cote de Saint-Romain-en-Gal - comes 44km from the finish.

While they wouldn't prove too taxing under normal conditions, coming after two punishing mountain stages and racing in temperatures in excess of 30C, could draw the sting out of the pure sprinting types.

Three to watch

Wout van Aert

After a superb Tour so far, Belgian Van Aert has the green jersey all but sewn up, but that isn't stopping him grabbing all the points he can.

On Thursday's intermediate sprint Van Aert picked up nine extra points by blasting clear of the group he was in, showing he still has plenty of power in his legs.

Finishing second in the first three stages of this year's race, Van Aert wore the yellow jersey for four stages early on. The all-rounder took a solo victory in Stage 4 and triumphed in a bunch sprint to Stage 8, taking his career tally to eight Tour de France stage wins.

Over the last few days he has been playing the role of faithful domestique for Jumbo Visma's GC contender Jonas Vingegaard, but Van Aert should have the team working for him on this stage.

Fabio Jakobsen

Perhaps the fastest pure sprinter in the field, Jakobsen has continued his sensational recovery from life-threatening injuries sustained in the 2020 Tour of Poland with a strong showing on his Tour de France debut.

The Dutchman won Stage 2 with an impressive burst of speed to deny Van Aert, and was well fancied to follow up on Stage 3, only to find himself blocked and unable to get a run when the sprint developed.

Jakobsen will have found it heavy going in the Alps. He made no secret of the fact that he wasn't looking forward to the Alpe d'Huez finish to Stage 12 and it would be no surprise if that experience has taken the edge of his powerful finishing.

However, he proved he can handle tough conditions by winning Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in February - a race that featured several cobbled sections as well as climbs - outsprinting Caleb Ewan to the line.

Jasper Philipsen

Belgian Philipsen hasn't yet won a Tour de France stage - although he thought he had done when he outsprinted his rivals on the finish of Stage 4 this year, unaware that his compatriot Van Aert had crossed the line eight seconds earlier.

Philipsen won two stages of last year's Vuelta a Espana, and spent five stages in the green jersey there, as well as recording six top-three stage finishes on the 2021 Tour de France.

The 24-year old took the points classification titles in the UAE Tour and Tour of Turkey this year, and finished fifth and third in the two flat stages in the first week of this year's Tour.

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