Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon begins the first of three stages of climbing in the Pyrenees, and with 238kms to cover this is the longest stage of the Tour.
The riders begin climbing from the very beginning, and will continue climbing for most of the day, initially over two cat.4 hills within the first third of the race, and then over cat.2 and cat.3 mountains, before finally facing the toughest climb of the stage, the cat.H 11.7km long climb at 7.7% gradient to Port de Bales at 1,755m. After which there comes about a 20km descent to the finish.
This stage is similar to the 2012 Tour stage 16, in terms of a long descent into the finish, however the race on that occasion started from the opposite direction and on a whole it was a day of tougher climbing over legendary peaks. Initially there was a 38 rider break, which splintered and reformed before splintering for good on the second climb, whereupon finally Voeckler and Feillu were together leading the race, and after which Voeckler attacked on the final climb to solo to victory. The GC (podium then, and later in Paris) riders came to the line some 7mins behind in the same group, with Nibali finishing ahead of Wiggins who was leading the race, and Froome in 3rd.
I’m confident that a particularly large group will again form the long-range breakaway since it comes after the second rest day, and that the winner for the stage is likely to come from that group.
Firstly, AST don’t need to work on the front in order to prevent attacks by Valverde et al, even thought these mountains are the last chance to attempt to close the gap to Nibali. By setting a high pace AST is not likely to achieve much either, since no other GC rider has shown that they have the form to worry them much. Moreover, the respective teams of those GC riders don’t have the strength to give AST/Nibali a hard ride, and then succeed by having the strength to bring their man into the final climb attack position.
In a way, we saw this with NTE’s brave attempt to set up their man Leopold Konig for the stage victory on stage 14 from Grenoble to Risoul, and it ultimately failed. Konig is perhaps not yet as good as Valverde, Bardet, Pinot, or even Tejay, however ALM came to the party with Peraud’s work on that important section between climbs, and the winner still didn’t come from that group. It’s a burden which is simply too big for one team to achieve, and it doesn’t look like ALM and MOV are willing to hatch such a plan as to conspire to work together in order to put AST under pressure.
Valverde et al, best strategy is to stick with AST for the most part of the stage, having an easy ride, and then burying themselves on the final climb with a good attack. But I think that by that stage the breakaway will have cleared out and the winner comes from there.
There was some competition with the early Books on whether Nibali or Valverde should be favourite for the stage win, but the majority had Nibali shorter than Valverde, with Purito close third favourite. Over the past 24 hours, Nibali has become the narrow favourite over Valverde, with four riders shortening into a similar third favourite position with Purito.
Peter Sagan has come into the top portion of riders in the betting order, probably on the back of his Tour ride in 2012 stage 14, where he rode very well in this neck-of-the-woods, beating three other riders in his group to finish in 2nd place, however this stage looks much more difficult, and like most of the riders around and above him on the betting board, he is little to no value.
Again, it looks like it might be prudent to consider the riders involved in the break and the dynamics of the stage with IR plays, especially since across the boards the main story is one of very poor value. In addition, there were stages in the Vosges which looked easier to solve than this one, and no winning bets at ante-post were landed.
Nevertheless, three at small stakes in ante-post to get started:
* Mikel Nieve SKY can only salvage something from this Tour by way of a stage win, so the likelihood that he gets a chance to attack is very high. He failed in stage 14, but it did come on the back of that tough previous stage in the heat, so some excuses exist. He hasn’t really brought his Crit Dauphine form when winning the final mountain stage, but he has won a stage of the Giro and the Vuelta in his career. He comes from the Basque region, having been born in Leitza, and knows the climbs of the Pyrenees very well, which is sure to be an advantage. Interesting prospects. Worthy of close consideration. 50/1 E/W (various). Should be 66/1.
1/2* Brice Feillu Hasn’t won this season. His best results in stages of the Tour came when on GT debut as a 24yo, with a 1st and 3rd. He also has that fair 5th when leading with Voeckler in that similar 2012 stage 16 in the Pyrenees. He rode the Route du Sud in preparation for the Tour this year, and that should be a slight advantage, especially if he did some recon. BSE as a wild card team are expected to get someone into the break, and he looks like an ideal candidate. Has claims. Worthy of some consideration. 80/1 E/W (888). Should be 200/1.
1/4* Frank Schleck Has been thereabouts in a couple of the Vosges mountains stages, along with some surprisingly good riding in the Alps, where he was down a total of just over 3mins on the Nibali/Majka combination wins of stages 13/14. Showing signs of improvement. Perhaps a place chance. 125/1 E/W (365). Should be 400/1.
the general concensus is that the GC contenders will mark each other out on this stage and allow a break to get away and win the stage, therefore we are all in the dark a little and hoping to get a guy in the break
i have done Blel Kadri and Jan Bakelants and keeping my fingers crossed, good luck all
the general concensus is that the GC contenders will mark each other out on this stage and allow a break to get away and win the stage, therefore we are all in the dark a little and hoping to get a guy in the breaki have done Blel Kadri and Jan Bakel
On current form he's likely to bonk on the climb anyway, I agree. Not sure the teams will take that chance though as they could all be in trouble if one of the GC boys goes down on the descent.
There'll be riots if it's one of the French riders and the rest don't sit up and wait.
On current form he's likely to bonk on the climb anyway, I agree. Not sure the teams will take that chance though as they could all be in trouble if one of the GC boys goes down on the descent. There'll be riots if it's one of the French riders and t
I don't think that this stage was a surprise to many people. It was quite clear that the large breakaway were being given a long leash, and after the smart money at ante-post on Rogers was confirmed by not only him making the break but in addition to him also making the first and only selection, and with him looking as strong as he was in the Giro, it was always going to be very tough to beat him. Voeckler looked particularly strong, obviously had good legs, but I too found his tactics strange. Old Tommy seemed to think that shaking his head was more important than taking chances by charging down the descent, once Rogers steamrolled Gautier in fine fashion to clear out.
Good to see Kwiatkowski find himself after the recent OPQ failure with him, mostly the descent brought him back into a gap. Bardet confirmed my opinion that he is quite a messy rider, and I think he might have some considerable work on his technical side for the long term. He is young and should resolve some of those messy aspects, but Pinot didn't need an invitation, and that says a lot. Good riding, even though the plan didn't come to complete fruition. No surprise to see Serpa amongst the chances, but also no surprise he didn't win. Didn't see that coming from GVA, top stuff.
I don't think that this stage was a surprise to many people. It was quite clear that the large breakaway were being given a long leash, and after the smart money at ante-post on Rogers was confirmed by not only him making the break but in addition to