An uphill start and then rollercoaster roads for the battle to get in the breakaway, today’s route should reward the bold. The Col du Glandon sits too far from the finish to deliver fireworks but it’ll be selective before the scenic novelty of the Lacets de Montvernier.
Stage 17 Review: an action packed stage. The start saw some wild attacks and big moves going clear and Tejay van Garderen in trouble. His exit means he falls off the third place but it’ll change the race too as BMC won’t be trying to control the race and pace their leader, they’ll now try a scattergun approach to getting in early breakaways.
Tinkoff-Saxo tried to stir up the race with attacks on the Col d’Allos, it looked exciting for moment but Michael Rogers and Alberto Contador were quickly reeled in. On the way down Alberto Contador crashed and lost time… as Movistar drove the pace in the yellow jersey group.
Another crash on the descent was Thibaut Pinot. He’d set off in pursuit of lone leader Simon Geschke up the Col only to slip on a corner and looked nervous for the rest of the run down, his bars twisted from the crash and was overtaken by Andrew Talansky in pursuit of Geschke.The final climb wasn’t long enough for the American and Geschke took a joyful, expressive win to make five wins for Germany already.
Behind Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome traded attacks with Vincenzo Nibali for company, the Italian’s form is a lot better. Every move by Quintana sees the same response with Froome slow to react, his high cadence style means upping the pace takes longer but in 10-15 seconds the yellow jersey closes the gap.
- Km 6.5 – Col Bayard (1 264 m), 6.3 kilometre-long climb at 7% – category 2
- Km 35.5 – Rampe du Motty, 2.3 kilometre-long climb at 8.3% – category 3
- Km 60.5 – Côte de la Mure, 2.7 kilometre-long climb at 7.5% – category 3
- Km 70.5 – Col de Malissol, 2 kilometre-long climb at 8.7% – category 3
- Km 85.0 – Col de la Morte (1 368 m), 3.1 kilometre-long climb at 8.4% – category 2
- Km 147.0 – Col du Glandon (1 924 m), 21.7 kilometre-long climb at 5.1% – category HC
- Km 176.5 – Lacets de Montvernier (782 m), 3.4 kilometre-long climb at 8.2% – category 2
The Route: an uphill start to discover who is ill or weak, the Col de Bayard is a proper climb, the same road as the early part of the Col de Manse and then it goes up and up via a series of hairpin bends. The race then crosses the scenic Valbonnais on roads used many times in the Tour. The Col de Malissol is steep over the top while the Col de la Morte starts very steep before easing to the pass and then a fast, shaded descent to Séchilienne.
On the profile the road looks ordinary to the foot of the Col du Glandon but it’s a nasty uphill drag to Allemont, the road runs parallel to a white water river and often there’s headwind in the afternoons to make it harder.
The Col du Glandon is 21.7km long and with regular 10% slopes. This is a hard climb and anyone in the day’s breakaway who is excess baggage can be dropped early. The longer the climb goes on the easier it gets especially once above the tree line. It’s followed by a fast descent, especially the first third.
The Lacets de Montvernier are this year’s novelty, a 3.4km climb with 18 hairpin bends. It’s steep, narrow and each bend is tight, you climb from hairpin to hairpin like some manic hill rep session. It’s followed by a more regular descent, narrow in places and fast before reaching the valley floor and a ride into St Jean de Maurienne.
The Finish: the race finishes on the outskirts of town after the riders come through the town and past the railway station. The roadbook says there’s a left-hand bend and then finishing straight that’s 75m long but on closer inspection the finishing straight looks much longer and if so riders won’t want to come through the final bend first; it’s also an uphill drag to the line.
The Contenders: who is in good form, didn’t go in the breakaway yesterday, climbs well and can finish with a good sprint? Today should see a breakaway stay clear and if someone can meet all these criteria they’ve got a good chance. Any early move will get thinned on the Col du Glandon and then the hairpins of Montvernier are selective in a punchy way.
Joaquim Rodriguez seems a good choice, he’s been going in the breakaways and today is polka-dot points a plenty with the Glandon and then the Lacets as a launchpad. Jacob Fuglsang was second to Rodriguez on the Plateau de Beille and is a big name contender but has a small list of wins to his name.
Dan Martin and Romain Bardet have the engines to ride away from any breakaway companions up the Glandon and both are faster in the sprint that everyone thinks; Bardet had a bad day yesterday finding himself in an hypoglycemic haze early in the stage, as long as he’s recovered he should be fresh. Pierre Rolland had problems too with “digestive troubles” yesterday and this could be a problem that lasts more than a day or at least takes a toll today. Serge Pauwels has been climbing very well and a puncture thwarted his chances at the foot of the Col de Manse. If he’s still there at the end then maybe Alexis Vuillermoz can use his high intensity power on the Lacets.
Will the GC riders take it steady? Perhaps Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali will be motivated to try something because they have nothing to lose. But they’ll find it hard, any accelerations on the Glandon will be matched by the others. Alejandro Valverde won’t want to let them go because he’s worried about his third place, the same for Geraint Thomas in fourth who has to follow Valverde and with this Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana will follow… in theory.
|Joaquim Rodriguez, Dan Martin, Romain Bardet|
|Jungels, Yates², Pantano, Pauwels, Cummings, Bakelants, Fuglsang, Riblon, Vuillermoz
Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 31˚C in the valley and the chance of a rain shower on the Glandon.
TV: the Col du Glandon starts around 3.15pm, they will reach the top around an hour later and the finish is for 5.20pm.