Crosswinds are expected on today’s stage of the Tour de France, and this could potentially cause serious problems for some riders if echelons form.
The stage from Carcassonne to Montpellier is fairly flat with just two Cat. 4 climbs along the way. However, strong winds of up to 70 km/h are predicted which means riders are going to have be very vigilant.
Former green jersey winner, Robbie McEwen is amongst those to highlight the strong winds and has said on Twitter that “this stage just became one of the most important of #TdF16.”
In 2009, another stage in the South of France saw echelons forming. On the third stage from Marseille to La Grande-Motte, the peloton turned right with just over thirty kilometres remaining and faced strong crosswinds as they rounded the corner.
The race split with a front group forming containing 28 riders, including race leader Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong and the whole Team Columbia-HTC. Amongst those caught out behind were Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, the Schleck brothers, Levi Leipheimer and Bradley Wiggins.
Mark Cavendish won the sprint in La Grande-Motte as the lead group finished 41 seconds clear of the second group who did well to limit their losses. Below are highlights from the stage where you can see the echelons starting to form at around the 9-minute mark.
Similarly, in 2013 another stage was affected by crosswinds which resulted in echelons forming. Stage 13 from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond in the centre of the country was first split by the Omega Pharma–Quick-Step team.
The Saxo-Tinkoff team did further damage later on, as they isolated race leader Chris Froome and ensured that their team leader Alberto Contador was in the front group. It didn’t affect the overall result in Paris at the end of the race, but made for exciting racing.
Once again, Mark Cavendish made it into the front group and won the stage. Here are highlights from Stage 13 of the 2013 race.