WHERE ARE WE?
It’s only appeared on the Tour route half a dozen times, but the jet-setters among you will recognise Blagnac as the location of Toulouse airport. This isn’t an ‘easyJet Toulouse airport’, though; Toulouse itself is only a few miles south-east of here. Brive-la-Gaillarde is just down the road from Tulle, political seat of new president François Hollande.

WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
It’s a flattish, and almost dead-straight, route north between Blagnac and Brive, with a category three climb and three cat four climbs, although they’ll feel like downhill compared with the previous few days. Cahors is on the route. The riders will be looking forward to the sprint. We’re looking forward to the wine.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
Sprinters’ revenge. That’s not slang for the digestive problems riders often have in the last week of the Tour – after the Pyrenees, this is their second-last chance to win a stage, and this is one of two last crucial days for the green jersey. But against that, there’s the general fatigue, which gives the break much more of a chance of success.

 

 

SCENERY
Rolling, rural France Profonde, ruined only by the noise of jets flying overhead into Blagnac.

WE’LL BE GORGING ON…
Brive’s famous violet mustard – a mustard flavoured and coloured by black grapes, which goes perfectly with la viande limousine. And an inky Cahors red.

BEST BIT
The last 10km, when the sprinters will be put off the back on the final cat four climb, and attempt to chase back on for the sprint.

PREVIOUS WINNERS IN BRIVE LA GAILLARDE
1951 Bernardo Ruiz
1964 Edward Sels
1969 Barry Hoban
1973 Claude Tollet
1998 Mario Cipollini

SPOTTER’S GUIDE

I WON HERE…IN 1969
Barry Hoban, Great Britain
“It was my fourth Tour and my fourth stage victory, and the second in succession in 1969. The previous day I won on the Bordeaux track, which made up for 1964 when I should have won my first stage, but André Darrigade caught me ten metres from the line after getting a huge push from a team mate.

“I won at Bordeaux from a small breakaway of five. I was really fired up to win that day, but didn’t think I stood much chance at Brive. The stage was much hillier, but towards the end I got in another successful break.

“I wasn’t feeling as good as the previous day, so I was careful not to do too much in the break. One of out group, Jos Spruyt attacked close to the end, but three of the others did big turns to bring him back just in time for the finish. It set me up perfectly to win the sprint.”

 IN DEPTH
– Brive la Gaillarde hosts its sixth stage finish. Mario Cipollini was the last winner here, in 1998.
– Britain’s Barry Hoban won here in 1969.
– This is the only road stage between the last mountains and Paris. Last year and in 2009 there wasn’t one. In 2010, there was one, won in a sprint by Mark Cavendish. But in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, of a total of eight stages after the mountains and before Paris, not a single one was decided in a sprint.

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Maps courtesy of Amaury Sports Organisation