Don't be lulled into thinking that because the profile is flat, that the race will be a rudimentary one. That seemed to be the thinking of most after stage 12: no climbs in stage 13... oh, another bunch sprint at the finish. Oh no, far from it in fact! Yes, a sprint specialist – the best of his generation – won his 25th stage on the second Friday of the 100th Tour de France. Mark Cavendish marked Peter Sagan and then disposed of him in the finale as though the green jersey wearer was little more than a hack. The champion of Slovakia was second for a fourth time in this year's race and the British champion notched up another victory in an ever-growing tally.
The road to Lyon is littered with climbs. They are big but there are many and the terrain will surely help dictate how the race is done. Fatigue will also be a fact. The peloton might be tired from an epic race to St-Amand-Montrond – particularly the Omega Pharma-Quicsktep, Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin teams that gained the most from stage 13 – but someone is bound to find the energy to ignite the action.
Chris Froome lost a considerable slab of his advantage over some key rivals but he no longer has the firepower to return the gesture and taken on the likes of Bauke Mollema or Alberto Contador. He needs to defend and will surely spend his day marking the moves but they are likely to come thick and fast now that teams have sensed that the Sky team is no longer as dominant as it was 12 months ago.
Generally the premise is that the flat days are for the sprinters, the undulating days for opportunist and the mountains for the GC men... but forget tradition – there are gains to be made all the way from Bastia to Paris and a range of riders are taking advantage on a variety of terrain. It'll happen again in stage 14.