Tour de France 2021 – Stage 17 preview

By David Hunter

Muret > Col du Portet 178.5km

A big day of climbing.

The climbers hoping to make the break won’t be pleased with the start. The flat start makes it hard for the skinny men of the bunch to make the move, but not impossible. To make the break they need their bigger teammates, let them drive into the wind and stay on the wheel. Those who have teams without a GC focus have a better chance than the others, they can commit more men to the cause.

Once the break gets away will anyone chase? This race has been a great one for the escape artists, but this stage is an easy one to control. Ineos don’t have anything out of the race, the pressure will be on them to chase down the break, especially as the high-altitude finish suits Carapaz. I’m 95% certain this day is one for the GC men. The last time we were here it was Quintana who took the win, I think he’ll be desperate to get up the road.

Weather

Another cold and rainy day. The opening kilometres is a headwind, perfect for the those wanting a GC day.

Key Points

We start with the Col du Peyresourde, 9.6km at 7.4%.

Then it’s the Col de Val Louron-Azet, 7.1km at 8.1%. We then have a 10km descent before the main event of the day.

Col du Portet is 16.2km at 8.1% and climbs to 2209m above sea level. This is a very demanding climb, especially with the other two in the legs.

Tactics

Over to Ineos and EF Education – Nippo. They must attack, and they have the teams to do so. Jumbo-Visma are depleted, they can’t join in until later in the race. I expect the two teams to control the morning break and gradually increase the pace on the climbs, they know they can isolate Pogačar.

On the final climb we’ll see attacks, but can anyone drop the yellow jersey? He showed weakness on Ventoux, but he responded well on Sunday. He has a massive gap on GC, he can afford to lose time in this stage and still have full control of the race. Will he cover every move by Urán, Carapaz and Vingegaard? These guys are sure to try and cover each other as they are fighting for the podium, Pogačar won’t have to do it all himself.

We’ve also seen that the Slovenian loves to attack. If he’s on a good day, he’ll put the pressure on to try and secure the yellow jersey before the final mountain stage.

Contenders

Tadej Pogačar – already has a stage win, but I get the feeling he’ll also like to win a mountain stage. We’ve still not seen if his weakness on Ventoux was just a momentary blip, this stage will show us. He was able to respond to all the attacks on Sunday, but the Col du Portet is much harder. He’ll start as the favourite; we’ll have to see if he feels in a generous mood in the closing stages.

Jonas Vingegaard – he’s been wonderful in the last 2 weeks; it would be great to see him taking a well-deserved stage win. He’s the only one who’s managed to drop Pogačar, all eyes will be on him in the closing stages. He’ll also have Sepp Kuss to help in the finale, something he hasn’t had in the other mountain stages.

Richard Carapaz – the altitude suits him, but is he good enough to take the win? He looked better on Sunday, but I’m not convinced his current level is good enough to beat Pogačar.

Rigoberto Urán – he’s in the same position as Carapaz, I struggle to see him dropping Pogačar.

Nairo Quintana – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Michael Woods – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Wout Poels – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Miguel Ángel López – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Wout Van Aert – breakaway hopeful number 5.

David Gaudu – the Bastille Day pick!

Prediction Time

A big fight to get in the break. As long as the group isn’t huge it will be controlled by Ineos and EF. They’ll throw everything they’ve got at UAE, but Tadej Pogačar will win the stage.

A message from Cycle Pal: During the Tour de France, we’ll add some extra pressure onto David as we’ll be giving away a care package that includes tools worth up to £85 every time he predicts a stage winner correctly. To enter, all you have to do is click the link below and enter your email. Enter here: cyclepal.co.uk/tdf

Cycle Pal is a small UK-based cycling company that specializes in unique tools to help you with everyday cycling problems. If you struggle with changing stubborn tyres, you may be interested in our Tyre Seating Tool, you can find more information here: cyclepal.co.uk/cyclepal

David Hunter

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