What can we expect in the last week of the 104th edition of the Tour de France?
After fifteen stages, there is still a lot to talk about. In the first part of this post I will tell you which stages are still ahead for the riders. Afterwards, you will get a short oversight in all the classifications and I will also tell you which battles you can expect in the upcoming week.
Which stages are still ahead of the peloton ?
There are six stages left in this race. On Tuesday, the riders will kick off that week with a stage to Roman-sur-Isère, which could be for the sprinters, unless there aren’t enough teams of the sprinters and the riders in the breakaway suddenly have a chance to fight for the stage win.
Afterwards, the peloton is heading towards the Alps where they will ride two stages. The first one is, in my opinion, is the toughest one. The riders will climb the legendary slopes of the “Col de la Croix de Fer”, the “Col du Telegraphe” and the “Col du Galibier” before they will take the descent, which will bring them to Serre Chevalier. This stage should normally be the decorum for a big battle between the general classification riders.
On the next day, the riders will start in Briançon and will finish at the “Col d’Izoard” after 179.5 kilometres of riding. The first 121.5 kilometres aren’t too difficult. Therefore, the riders in the breakaway could fight for the stage win. After the “easy” part, they will get the first climb of the day, the “Col de Vars”. The descent of this climb will bring the riders to a vally before they start at the ascent to the top of the “Col d’Izoard”, which has a length of 14.1 kilometres at an average gradient of 7.3%. There is a good chance that we will see an all or nothing attempt from a general classification rider here because this is the last real chance for a pure climber to gain some time towards his rivals.
The nineteenth stage of this race will bring the riders from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence. This is the longest stage in this year’s Tour de France with a length of 223.5 kilometres. Normally, this stage should be for the sprinters, but the wind could play a role and could create some havoc. As a consequence, we could get two battles in this stage. The first one is the battle for the stage win and the other battle is the battle for the general classification riders.
On the penultimate stage, we will get a twenty-two and a half kilometre time trial in Marseille. It is a flat time trial with one big and steep hill. Despite the flat terrain, it won’t be possible for the riders to go very fast because there are more than thirty corners in this race against the clock, which could decide this years Tour de France.
Finally, this race will come to an end with a short stage to the Champs Elysées. The first part will be a parade to Paris. If the riders reach Paris, some riders will try to prevent a sprint, but the teams of the sprinters will control the stage and will make sure that the stage ends in a sprint.
What is the situation in the general classification?
The general classification
Chris Froome (Team Sky) is still in the lead after a tough day for him. The Briton will have a difficult last week because his rivals will plan to isolate and attack him. Furthermore, his team is not as dominant as in 2016 and in 2015. Consequently, it won’t be easy to win this race for the fourth time.
His first rival is Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team). He is only eighteen seconds behind the lead and could try to attack when Froome is isolated because his team isn’t the strongest.
Aru will have to watch out because his next rival is only five seconds behind him. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) is only twenty-three seconds away from the lead in this race and has a team full of strong riders around him and will have to use it like they did in the stage to Le Puy-en-Velay. He and his team managed to put pressure on Froome, who was in trouble after a mechanical problem just before the start of the biggest climb of the day. The yellow jersey returned to the group with his rivals but he will carry that effort with him for the rest of this race. If Bardet and his teammates can do the same in the Alps, it will interesting to watch what Froome and his teammates will do.
Afterwards, you also have Rigoberto Uran (Team Cannondale Drapac), who is only six seconds behind Bardet. The Columbian has been the surprise of this race so far and has a chance to win it. He doesn’t have a team which is as strong as Bardet’s, but this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a chance, because in the end it will be a fight between the general classification riders and he has shown that he could cause an upset. If he manages to follow every move, he will do an outstanding job because he has proven in the past that he can ride a good individual time trial.
After Uran, there is a gap of forty-three seconds towards the next rider. Daniel Martin (Team Quick Step Floors) is already one minute and twelve seconds behind the lead in this race. Consequently, it will be hard for him to be on the podium, but not impossible. The Irishman has shown that he is in good condition and only lost a lot of time because he crashed together with Richie Porte in the descent of the “Mont du Chat”. If he didn’t crash, things would be a lot closer. It isn’t and Martin has to attack in the upcoming two mountain stages and take time towards his main opponents. The stage over the Galibier will be the opportunity to gain a lot of time because the time differences at the top of the “Col d’Izoard” will be, in my opinion, a bit smaller. His biggest disadvantage will be his team because he only has Gianluca Brambilla on his side.
Mikel Landa (Team Sky) is another rider who could do a good job. The Basque is just five seconds away from Daniel Martin and could look to take these seconds back in one of the mountain stages. His biggest disadvantage will be his team. He only has one big problem and that is that the team doesn’t work for him, but for Froome. If something happens to the Brit, Landa must wait and his hopes for a good place in the general classification of this race will be over.
The next rider is Simon Yates (Team Orica Scott). The Briton is two minutes and two seconds away from the lead and is looking to take the white jersey to Paris. His main rival for that jersey is Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates). The rider from South-Africa is in eighth at this moment, but he is three minutes and seven seconds away from Yates. Therefore, Yates can look in front of him in the general classification and doesn’t really need to be worried about his white jersey unless he has a terrible day in the mountains.
Now I am already at position number nine, when I see the name of Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo). The Spaniard had a terrible day in the stage to Nantua but looks to become better and better. Just look at what he did in the stage to Foix. He was the one, who caused the havoc. In my opinion, he will play all or nothing in the Alps because he is already five minutes and thirty-seven seconds behind the leader in this race. Riders like Bauke Mollema and Jarlinson Pantano will be very important for him.
About the Author: My name is Nick and I am a 20-year-old student applied linguistics (Dutch, German and Russian) with a big passion for cycling. Consequently, I have a blog about cycling (cyclinghill.weebly.com), where you can read the previews of all the biggest races in the world of professional cycling. It is my dream to work in the world of cycling.
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