Tour de France 2014 – Stage 17 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 16 Recap

We got the large break, as expected. On the final climb we were left with 3: Rogers, Serpa and Voeckler. On the descent, it was Rogers that struck out to claim another brilliant win.

The yellow jersey group exploded on the final climb, as Movistar set a fierce pace. It was Pinot who attacked, with Nibali, Valverde and Peraud following. At the end of the climb, Pinot attacked again and seemed to break all of them. They regrouped on the final climb, but it was a bad day for Bardet and Van Garderen.

Stage 17 Saint Gaudens – Saint Lary Pla d’Adet 124.5km

The shortest stage of the race, but the hardest!

et17

I’m sure the riders would like to shoot the man who dreamed up this stage! Just 124.5km of riding, but 3 cat 1 climbs and a HC finish. The final 75km contains 4 ascents and 3 descents, this is brutal!

We could see a few riders outside the time limit today, due to the short length of the stage.

There are 80 points available for the KOM jersey, so expect a battle royale between Majka, Rodriguez and maybe even Voeckler.

Here are the cat 1 climbs:-

The most famous of these climbs is the Peyresourde, home to many a battle on the tour. All 3 climbs are difficult and set the race up well for the final climb of the day.

Now this is a proper climb, 10.2km at 8.3%. A lot of riders will already have tired legs and there is a potential for a few of them to blow spectacularly on this climb, but what type of race will we get?

As the stage is short, it will be difficult for the break to make it. I expect AG2R to be the dominant team. They have a strong team and also have Bardet and Peraud riding high on GC. We will have to see if they send riders up the road or save them all for a full out mountain train. Peraud is good in the TT, but will want to put more time into some of his rivals.

Nibali and Astana have been brilliant so far and I don’t expect this to change. Nibali hasn’t always had lots of teammates with him but that hasn’t stopped him from dominating the race. Will he get greedy and go after a 4th stage win?

Valverde has looked good, and has claimed to be saving himself for the 3rd week. Well, we are here now, so we’ll see what he’s got.

Konig has improved throughout the race and will look to continue this trend. He is strong in the TT, but will want to take more time in the mountains.

Pinot is looking like the rider in the best of form. He has improved in every mountain stage and has eyes on the podium. He isn’t the best in the TT so needs to take time in the mountains. Stage 16 will have filled him with confidence.

Some teams have lost their leader and are on the search for stages. Expect to see Sky, Tinkoff, Garmin, Lampre, Cofidis and IAM put riders in the break and hope it stays away.

Prediction time…

The break has to feature Majka and Rodriguez. Majka will have some help, probably from Roche, but Rodriguez will be alone. The stage looks great for Riblon and after having a quiet stage 16, I expect him to make the break here. The winner of this stage has to be a great climber, not just any old breakaway rider. As we head into Spain, for a short time, I expect to see Irizar and Mate feature in the break. The size of the break will be very interesting and crucial for it’s success, not too big but not too small. AG2R will try something, as they are after a stage win and there are only 2 chances left. They will animate the race and bring it all back together on the final climb. FDJ will also help and if the break doesn’t make it I expect Pinot to win.

David Hunter

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