Tour de France Stage 22 Preview

Monday, 28 July 2014


A 13.7km time trial in Utrecht. The flat route suits the specialists and we’re likely to see Tom Dumoulin up against Tony Martin for the stage win while the GC contenders will aim to contain their time losses.

The 2015 Tour de France starts in Utrecht and the next day’s stage heads out to the coast for a perilous stage in the crosswinds. It’s a touch too early to get a weather forecast but it’ll be a high risk stage on the calmest of days. Beyond this the race will head to Antwerp in Belgium and then the race route is unknown. Could we see a stage into Germany? Or perhaps a race to Huy and its infamous wall?

The only certainty of the route is the finish in Paris but over the next weeks and months info is likely to leak out, you’ll find many of these are collated on the Velowire blog. It’s testimony to the Tour’s hold on our imagination that no sooner has the race ended that we look forward to the next edition.

Alpe d’Huez seems to be back on the route. That’s normal as the ski resort tends to appear on alternate years and it offers a classic summit finish. But it could be overshadowed by talk of a summit finish on the Col de la Bonette, 2,715 metres above sea level, an altitude to beat the previous record of the highest ever finish of the Tour set on the Col du Galibier. Local TV also cites a tribute stage to the 1975 Tour de France stage win by Bernard Thévenet at Pra Loup when Eddy Merckx wore yellow jersey for the last time before Thévenet beat him to win the Tour. If this is true it could include some of the legendary climbs of the southern Alps that have been skipped for years.

There’s also talk of finish by the Glières war memorial in the Alps, recently visited by the Tour de l’Avenir and even use of a gravel road to ride past the site but were this to happen the Tour’s presence is often enough to get roads built, see the Port de Balès in the Pyrenees for an example of this.

However much we speculate it seems ASO have now got the winning formula by which they’ll exploit the local geography as much as possible to make a stage more interesting, the race is no longer afraid to tackle a steep and narrow hill on the way to the finish and a day in the mountains is made more exciting by making sure the stage lasts a few hours as opposed to half the day. Similarly we’re likely to get more time trialling in 2015 but not so much that the GC contenders are prised apart by the stopwatch, the race prefers to see gaps created by attacks and accelerations.

The full route of the Tour de France will be unveiled in Paris on 22 October. 341 days to go before Stage 1.

But there’s no need to wait a whole year and project into 2015. August can feel like a lull in the season but it’s actually the busiest month of racing on the calendar in terms of race days plus there are the post-Tour criterium “races”. You can download a calender of all the pro races at inrng.com/calendar because there are two many races to list. There’s the Tour of Poland and its roadside inflatables, the Tour de l’Ain where Mark Cavendish starts racing and often a good discovery race for new talent – an amateur Warren Barguil was mistaken for a Colombian – and the Vuelta a Burgos is the race to judge form before the La Vuelta.

The Vuelta is less than four weeks away, a promising revenge race although for all the big names due to start, how many will be in form and up for the race will be revealed in the first week with the climb of Cumbres Verdes on Stage 6 and the Stage 9 summit finish at Valdelinares.

Peter July 28, 2014 at 11:52 am

Thanks for this Mr Ring.
I am in severe post Tour Blues mode this morning and this has cheered me up no end!
Reading Christophe Bassons’ autobiog at the mo – a great subject for a review (or did I miss it already?).

Right Knider July 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

my post tour blus is cured by going through older versions. for example 1947 with old leatherhand jean robic: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-c-wO5NnPyxA/To3JTgaYL7I/AAAAAAAADZA/RvsxlaDQQ8Y/s400/Robic.jpg

Anonymous July 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

No Tour on TV this afternoon, I’m lost.

NancyA July 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

+1!

Barodeur Billy July 29, 2014 at 12:24 am

Same!

Andy Mac July 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I have just returned from 2 great weeks in Pra Loup. The cols around there are definitely worth a re-visit. See http://www.barcelonnette.com/ete-activites/ete-activites-cyclotourisme.html for the local treats in store for any visitors. The Col D’Allos is closed to motor vehicles every Friday during July and August. The Col Des Champs offers a tricky descent into Colmars; narrow twisty and sure to elicit some talk of a dangerous descent from the likes of the Schlecks.

If the tour is to re-visit then I’ll be booking my next trip to the mountains come October when the route is announced.

Andy Mac July 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

check out http://www.cycling-challenge.com/cols-cayolle-champs-and-allos/ for an amazing day in the hills. Definitley do it anti-clockwise though.

Chris July 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Whoa, that Vuelta picture makes Nibali look a little puffy. He definitely looked lighter at the Tour this year

Ronan July 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Really looking forward to Poland and the Vuelta. Both should be good races and we’ll see lots of people chasing a result as the season draws to its close.

Garmin in particular should be good to watch in the Vuelta, with Martin, Hesjedal and Talansky all now targeting it. Goes to show that great plans often fall apart. At the same time last year, Vaughters was talking about separating his three big riders to try and target more wins.

Right Knider July 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm

would be nice if they visit germany for one of the flat stages. gives the german sprinters a chance to win in front of a home crowd.

Larry T. July 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Geez, the fizz isn’t even gone from all the champagne glasses and we’re skipping ahead to next year? Let the victors savor their victories for a bit longer, PLEASE.

NancyA July 28, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I’m not sure how looking forward to next year’s tour stops anyone from celebrating this year’s. Some of us are capable of doing two things at once.

Jason July 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

can’t wait for a preview of the vuelta.. I just hope that it is more of a contest than the other two GT’s..

Breakaway con artist July 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm

On the rumour side of things,

Canadians bike makers Argon 18 have signed a deal with either a protour team or procontinental team for the 2015 season. They wont reveal the name of the team yet.
Maybe the Inrng knows who it is??

Garmin??

The Inner Ring July 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Surely it’s Cannondale with Garmin/Slipstream?

Argon 18 are a small company so it’ll have to be a smaller team.

Paddy Dunne July 29, 2014 at 6:43 am

Ask Creed, he may know summink!

Mick July 29, 2014 at 5:52 am

Since the Press release made no mention of it being a “ProTour” team (which if applicable, I think you’d want to tout that). That would narrow the teams dramatically (from the teams participating in this years TDF)… My money would be on Bretagne-Séché Environnement…
But they were very close to a deal with AG2R a few seasons back…

The Inner Ring July 29, 2014 at 7:33 pm

It’s Team Bora-Argon 18 says Radsport:
http://www.radsport-news.com/sport/sportnews_88962.htm

Nina July 30, 2014 at 12:55 am

Good move (if the team will not become a victim of it’s own success). I do hope this will be one more piece in the puzzle to bring cycling back into the focus here in germany. The drama with Ullrich, Zabel, Riis etc. left such trauma in his wake, that today there is still no german tv station ready to mess with cycling and the Tour de France again. And it seems neither Kittel nor Greipel could heal these wounds and the distrust till now. If it wasn’t for Eurosport the Tour de France wouldn’t have been shown live on tv in germany (let alone smaller races). Imagine this!

Jordan July 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Oct 22 is 256 days before the Grand Depart.

The Inner Ring July 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Correct but it’s 341 days from now until Stage 1 in 2015.

Philip July 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Homophone alert!

there are two many races to list

Anyway, thanks for the fantastic writing once again and the interesting titbits on twitter.

Still holding out for my inrng casquette before the scottish summer peters out.

Redeye July 28, 2014 at 9:13 pm

That prologue course looks very tight and technical in places. I wonder if a certain Mr Sagan might fancy his chances?

It would be great to see Tony Martin in yellow though and if he turns up next year in the same kind of form he was in this year he’ll be a pretty safe bet.

denominator July 30, 2014 at 8:34 am

For Sagan it is somewhat too long. He could win a prologue of 6-8 km, but with 13.7 maybe a top ten – it will be one for true specialists and Tony Martin is already now a favourite.

Juan July 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Great stuff as always, Mr. Ring.

Any thought as to whether Cav will race the Commonwealth RR?

Sam July 29, 2014 at 10:51 am

No, he won’t, can’t recover in time (his docs were apparently hopping made when he disclosed last week that he’s back on the back). Kennaugh will be the IOM leader on Sunday.

Nicolay July 28, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Short TTs = Taylor Phinney

inthedrops July 29, 2014 at 12:53 am

Brittany will supposedly be included in the route, 3 stages there including a time trial so it sounds like 3 TTs in 2015.

tourdeutah July 29, 2014 at 3:52 am

As to the busy August calendar, you left out Eneco and the Tour of Utah. The latter seems to be coming into favor as a prep for La Vuelta. Chris Horner used this race last and this year to prep and will be joined by Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso before heading off to La Vuelta.

As to the 2015 Tour, I am hoping they find a way to have a four day start in America followed by a rest day to fly back to France. They can have a couple of stages for the sprinters upon return so the peloton can fight off any jet lag.

Barry July 29, 2014 at 10:18 am

Grand Depart is in The Netherlands, as the above stage indicates. Perhaps some day it will visit America but it does seem like a stretch.

Nick July 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Suspect they’ll visit Dubai first, given ASO’s interests there.

gabriele July 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Isn’t Dubai linked to RCS, presently at least?

shredgar July 30, 2014 at 2:42 am

Yes looking forward to the tour of utah. Great route with even more climbing than previous editions. First time summit finish at powder mountain, a tough hill to drive in the winter. Race stats say 3,000ft uphill in six miles finishing at 8,200ft ~= 10k at 9.5% to 2485m. Venga venga venga!

Cam July 29, 2014 at 7:36 am

I’m hearing Evian-les-Bains with a possible transfer out of Geneva to follow. Which means they could be coming down through Switzerland after the Vosges and finishing with a second bite at the (Southern) Alps after the Pyrenees. Briancon??

Risoul put a lot of these secondary ski resorts on notice this year; invest in facilities or else. The Ariège have definitely been on notice for a little while. I wouldn’t bet against Le Super-Sauze actually instead of Pra-Loup although Pra-Loup clearly has the history. Or Valberg if the stage runs the other way.

There is an unpaved climb called the Col du Parpaillon (2,650m) next to the Col de Vars, just before the Izoard. I wonder if Gouvenou would ever consider sending them over that? Maybe just pave the descent, then do the Izoard and finish in Briancon. That would be an amazing throwback stage!

The Inner Ring July 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

The Parpaillon would be too much! The offroad section I’ve heard about was used in the Tour des Pays de Savoie, a u23/2.2 race in the Alps.

Barry July 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

Do you think the riders would opose an unaved climb like that? A beautiful throwback to the old days would be great to see but I’m not sure it would go down to well given the opposition to the pave this year and the Sarenne descent last ear.

MD July 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

Will be fantastic to see a finish on the Col de la Bonette. The area holds a special place in my heart after spending a few months mapping the geology of the area just north of there (Larche to South of Vallon du Lauzanier). Beautiful part of the Alps.

STS July 29, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The Col de Glières is a real, say steep and long enough climb, especially when coming from the Eastern side. Definitely a race deciding “mano a mano” element when the finish is close to that climb. Would be great to see the race go up there. Not sure whether it’s a good idea to have that gravel road on the plateau paved since it might possibly attract even more motorized traffic if they know they can pass the Pass on a paved road.

I would suggest including that pass into your list of “Roads to ride” since it is not only a remarkable challenge and a really beautiful site but also offers an interesting story to tell about the historic relevance of that spot.

cc78 July 29, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I know Megève is keen for a stage start and/or finish after hosting the Dauphiné this year. That could just be wishful thinking on their part although the race is due to return to Savoie/Haute Savoie (the two departments are possibly being reunified) after missing out this year.

Glières would be fantastic, it is a beautiful climb and the site has fascinating history.

Salsiccia July 29, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Perhaps the Massif Central could be 2015’s Vosges?

Heather July 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Still in post-tour withdrawal. Hope there is some decent US television coverage of another race soon, though nothing can match the TDF.

Bundle July 30, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Why do you keep taking for granted that short mountain stages provide more enterntainment? It’s simply not true. Balès was, by far, the best mountain stage this year. I can’t help but guessing there must be other motivations for your assumption (which I’m sure people like Gilbert and Gerrans agree with, and whose motivations I can fathom).

The Inner Ring July 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm

It’s not taken for granted but it does provide for action from the start. I like the right mix, one long stage this year followed by two short ones seemed to work out well. Variety seems to be the best ingredient.

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