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Tour de France Stage 16 Preview

A day to ease back into the racing for some and a likely conclusion for the sprinters. The weather could be a factor as it’s certain to be hot and could be windy.

The Route: 177km in an anti-clockwise loop north and then west of Nîmes. Pont du Gard, Alès, Anduze, Uzès are familiar to the peloton because of the early season Etoile de Bessèges race but it’s different from a grey day in February and the peloton’s more stressed and fatigued. There are no hard climbs, the challenge is the traffic calming street furniture in the villages and there are sections exposed to the wind, whether arid areas with little vegetation or vineyards. That bump you can see on the stage profile at the end is a drag out of the Gardon valley, 5% at most but not a problem for the sprinters.

The Finish: a big wide ring road around town, it’s flat. There is a roundabout with 400m to go but it’s wide rather than snide, it’s something to line out the peloton a touch and advantages a strong sprint train which can take the shortest route across.

The Contenders: we’re back to our trio of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep). Loyal readers might be bored of this but if you ran a Monte Carlo simulation of a sprint finish then the result wouldn’t always be the same and this theory probably holds true in the Tour so far, nobody has the edge. Ewan has been the most consistent so far, never out of the top-three and would could see a Giro-like scenario where once he’s won once he wins more so he gets the first pick today. Groenewegen though has been very close and he’ll miss Wout van Aert so he’s the next pick. Viviani is third because both he and his train might be that little more tired because of working for Alaphilippe but if there are crosswinds they could be the ones to exploit them.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) should be close to score points, Alexander Kristoff (UAE) rides on and has won in Nîmes before but that was 2014.

Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen
Elia Viviani
Peter Sagan, Alexander Kristoff


Yellow story: the yellow jersey’s such an icon that teams with yellow on their normal kit are asked or expected to change their kit design for the Tour de France, something they don’t worry about for other races with yellow jerseys, say, like Paris-Nice. This year Jumbo-Visma have a yellow kit but the black on the jersey makes them distinct so it’s not a problem but they did swap to a more black kit last July. In years passed other teams have gone with totally different kit for July, for example the ONCE team, sponsored by a ubiquitous Spanish charity/lottery for the blind, had a yellow jersey but switched to pink for July. The UCI allows teams to change their kit once every year and it’s not just to avoid a clash with the yellow jersey, we see this from time to time like Lotto-Soudal having a special kit for Paris-Nice in in 2016, Team Sky adopting their “Ocean Rescue” kit last summer or Trek-Segafredo opting for a whiter kit for the summer heat.

Weather: the heatwave is back, it’ll be 36°C in the shade and hotter on the tarmac and some riders will be on near-constant rotation to fetch bottles from the team car. The wind is a feature too, it’s not the Mistral but there will be a 20km/h breeze from the S/SE and which is just below the requirement for crosswinds but the forecast says it could gust to 40km/h in the afternoon. The most exposed section is from 54km to 28km to go and here there are many sections which are totally exposed.

TV: the stage starts at 1.20pm CEST and finish is forecast for 5.25pm CEST / Euro time.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cp Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 6:14 am

    So DQS wouldn’t take it easy, just protect the jersey, and forget about the sprint to save energy for the alps? Or is it an inconsequential amount of effort to lead Viviani out?

    • shadowyoshi Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 6:43 am

      I’m going to guess DQS won’t contribute to chasing the break down, but if it is caught they will do some sort of limited lead out for Viviani.

      • JeroenK Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 8:50 am

        DQS needs allies… I think they will ‘take responsibility’ as the yellow jersey holders and work to keep the break on a leash, hoping other teams will help them. Patrick Lefevere said something along those lines on Belgian TV. I would love to see them poker with the rest of the sprinter teams though.
        Also – there is a mild echelon alert from 50 to 20k to go! If that turns out to be real, you better be conservative with your energy as a team.

        • cthulhu Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:04 am

          So far the sprinter teams have cooperated very well on the flat stages . I think Tony Martin toiled the peloton for probably as many km as the whole DQS team 😉
          But really, on the sprint stages one could always see a TJV, DQS, TLS and BOH rider working together at the front.

        • KevinR Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:53 am

          I think it has the potential to be more than mild according to forecasts. If so QS and Ineos will become best mates and try to rip it up and hurt Pinot again

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 10:08 am

        I think they’ll stick one rider like Asgreen on the front to rotate with Lotto’s Monfort and Jumbo’s Tony Martin.

    • AndyW Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 11:35 am

      Given their ability, I’m hoping the crosswinds mean they might even go on the attack to try to extend Alaphillipe’s lead, or is that too much to hope for?!

  • Foley Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 6:18 am

    ” whiter kit for the summer heat.” For awhile the Sky jersey had a white back, presumably for this reason but in later years they were back in black. Mitchelton-Scott presumably do not see potential for marginal gain there either. I’d rather be in a light color myself even if only for a placebo effect.

  • Digahole Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 6:58 am

    Apparently Ewan’s wife and new baby our out of an extended hospital stay and there for the finish today so he’s got the trifecta of speed, confidence and emotional incentive… got to wish the little guy his 2nd win today!

    • AndyW Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 7:37 pm

      Good call!

      • cp Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 8:47 pm

        I thought Ewan was doomed when he slipped out of position but he really brought it back. He really overhauled Viviani impressively.

  • Stuie Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 7:38 am

    I bet FDJ are very attentive today, they will not want a repeat of stage 10. Will tune in for last 50k.

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 8:23 am

      Let’s hope everyone makes it round safely and in order today, and that the race gets settled in the Alps as I’m sure we’d all wish.
      It’ll be interesting to see if Alaphilippe is on lead-out duty again later.

      • Dan W Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:18 am

        Safely, sure – but in order – why? Dealing with potential crosswinds/splits is as much a part of bike racing as dealing with the gradients.

        If somebody sees an opportunity today, I hope they go for it and if that catches somebody else out – bad luck.

    • KevinR Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:55 am

      They may try to be but haven’t got the same big engines as Ineos and QS. If the wind blows, Pinot may too!

      • Davesta Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 10:25 am

        I expect to see Pinot glued to the back wheel of Stefan Kung today!

  • Tricky Dicky Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 8:30 am

    Even if those cross winds don’t cause havoc in themselves, perhaps the mere fear of them may cause issues for at least some of the GC teams in the “fight for position”? In that vein, I’m assuming that JV and DQS now have bigger fish to fry than to control the break for a sprint, so it will mainly fall to Lotto and query who else will bother to help them? Perhaps a strong breakaway of “rouleurs” could survive.

    Otherwise, I look forward to an early night here in Australia ahead of the 72 hour marathon later in the week…..

  • rb Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 8:42 am

    Usually, in my mind at least, the green and the gpm jerseys have taken on a greater focus. I think that must be because for the last x years we’ve had relatively tedious GC races.

    Shaping up nicely.

    Head says Bernal, heart says Pinot.

  • Jack Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:03 am

    38-40 degree weather, chance of crosswinds, sprinters teams have GC ambitions – who will chase the breakaway? Late 5% kicker might cause some chaos as well – anyone else thinking a boil over (no pun intended)?

  • J Evans Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:20 am

    Let’s hope if there’s wind FDJ have (finally) learned to form an echelon behind the front group, if Pinot is dropped. It can’t be beyond them to do this and if they do, they’ll lose seconds not minutes.
    We’ve all seen this happen in the past: you form your own echelon and it’s fine. You chase like nutters as they did in the last windy stage and it’s not.
    If I was Pinot I wouldn’t trust my team, I’d be glued to DQS and/or Ineos.
    All the other teams of the GC candidates – Bora, DQS, Ineos, J-V – have plenty of firepower for windy days; FDJ apparently don’t.

    • KevinR Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 10:00 am

      Correct. It’s also going to be extremely hot. If I was Pinot, I’d be very worried today. He blows up when the temperature rises and his team haven’t got the Classics grunt needed in crosswinds.

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 10:07 am

        A quick note on Pinot and the heat, which is the new Pinot and descending, it’s one of those myths that because it has happened once people often think it holds all the time. He’s been fine in the Tour so far, he was deliberately training in afternoons in the heatwave prior to the Tour, managed fine in the Vuelta last year on the furnace-like days and even installed a sauna at home to use after indoor trainer sessions to help adjust.

        • Digahole Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 11:20 am

          Sauna at home… Sky-esque

          • deadblind Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 12:21 pm

            Or just smart. Tony Martin trained in a bathroom with the heater on before 2016 Doha worlds and beat Kiryienka by 45 seconds. So it’s just a matter of adaptation, Sky-esque or not.

        • KevinR Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 11:18 pm

          I take your point but it’s interesting that Pinot himself made reference to it when saying the cooler, wet weather in the Pyrenees the other day helped with his arrack. He definitely prefers that over heat

  • Richard S Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:21 am

    Judging by how this race has been so far I’d say it’s likely the wind will blow and there will be gaps. You’d expect DQS, Jumbo Visma, Ineos and Bora be best placed to exploit it. Pinot better be on his toes.

  • jc Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:25 am

    The weather forecast I have seen suggests strong gusty winds from the south from about 17:00. Not sure that will have too much of an effect as by that point the race will almost certainly be heading south back towards Nimes. Not sure the riders will really appreciate a headwind at this point in the race but it is likely to hamper a breakaway.

    I think Caleb Ewan today as both DS and JV will want to save resources for the days to come.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 10:10 am

      The wind is a possibility rather than a certainty… but this was the forecast for Albi. So expect a nervous last hour. Several teams hire private meteorologists these days for custom weather forecasts each day.

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 10:15 am

        Pozzovivo should set up a business.

      • BenW Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 2:06 pm

        Heading towards F1 territory, that is. Such that the F1 teams now hire a single forecaster for everyone as a pooled resource, as it was getting silly.

  • Larry T Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:58 am

    I think Jumbo should have changed their jersey. Same with EF for the Giro. As you wrote, both ONCE and Mercatone Uno switched the yellow out for pink at Le Grand Boucle back-in-the-day. Wonder whatever happened to “cool black”? Just more marketing-maven BS I guess?

    • Augie March Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 2:13 pm

      Yes, the EF kit is good for standing out in the peloton but I was very irritated during the Giro as it was almost exactly the same as the leader’s jersey. The JV kit isn’t so bad as there is some black on it, but I’d still like a change. The Vuelta is going to be a a farce this year given all the red kits in the peloton these days, red is very much the new black.

  • Digahole Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 12:07 pm

    Over the rest day, in press conferences etc, INEOS, both Brailsford and Thomas seemed to be almost solely focused on Alaphilippe. I find this strange when Pinot is clearly climbing the best to date.

    I’d also say that the majority of commentators still have Thomas as favourite with Bernal second. This seems to be based only on Sky/INEOS’s past strength rather than what’s happening on the road, as they’re clearly not as strong this year – I’d say Thomas is currently climbing 3rd or even 4th best atm, behind Pinot and Bernal in that order, then roughly equal with Alaphilippe in that JA took time on the Tourmalet and GT took time in Foix. I know, defending champion, blah, blah, but not sure that the favourite tag is warranted *yet*.

    • J Evans Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 12:14 pm

      Yes, I wouldn’t call Thomas the favourite either: he’s certainly looked weaker in the climbs than Pinot and Bernal.
      Of course, what Ineos say in public – like any other team – doesn’t necessarily match up with what they’re really thinking. I would be astonished if they’re not planning an attack today should it be windy and that will be primarily aimed at Pinot, you’d think.
      I think calling anyone a favourite, at the moment, is guesswork at best:
      Pinot has a history of fading for various reasons
      Thomas doesn’t look to be the best climber
      Buchmann is relatively inexperienced
      As is Alaphilippe in GC terms, plus he faded the most in the last stage – but has quite a lead
      Bernal should be good high up, but who can really say
      Kruijswijk should be suited to these climbs, but he was stuck back with Thomas on the last stage.

      • Larry T Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 12:49 pm

        No mention of getting an electronic linkup to Froome in his recovery bed so he could watch TV (doesn’t Eurosport offer a way to choose the video from individual cameras nowadays?) while monitoring all the INEOS riders data telemetry and then advise their DS’s and team members on how to win this year since he couldn’t be there on the bike to do it all for them? Perhaps that’s their secret plan?

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 2:57 pm

        “Buchmann is relatively inexperienced”
        Is he? he rode 4 more GT than Bernal, whom you don’t give this attribute.

        • J Evans Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 9:23 pm

          Yes, it’s the wrong term. My first thought was ‘young’, but he’s 26 so not that young. I suppose I meant he’s new to being a GC contender – as is Bernal, as you say.

    • JeroenK Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 12:59 pm

      Digahole, you saw what happened to Alaphilippe when he tried to follow Pinot when he could also have stayed with his nearest GC competitors: He blew up.

      With differences this small, you have to race really calculated to win, saving up for when it matters most, probably one of the Alps stages. Maybe it’s a case of not being able to do better, but Thomas seems to be racing really smart.

      • HM Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 2:01 pm

        Thomas does seem to be riding within himself and improving. Any thoughts out there on the likelihood that he is riding into form? His participation in Switzerland was cut short so my feeling is he turned up for the TdF undercooked… and a quiet season in the run up to the TdF seems understandable as he probably only has one big goal this year which is to defend his title… so my sense is not to write him off just yet.

      • Digahole Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 5:02 pm

        True, but Pinot was also riding within himself – If you ride within yourself and keep getting dropped, you lose.
        For GT to win this race, something has to go wrong for Pinot (jour sans, form peak, whatever) and for mine, that should make Pinot favourite

        • KevinR Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 11:27 pm

          I don’t think Pinot was riding within himself. He was giving it everything to pull back stupidly lost time.
          I can’t help but feel that Ineos in general are playing the long game and are pacing themselves for those three monster stages.
          As previously mentioned Pinot has a history of fading and Thomas may slowly but surely be getting into the form he needs to win – it’s not as if he’s been far off. And if he doesn’t do so soon enough, Bernal is going to have a shot at yellow

          • MRJ Wednesday, 24 July 2019, 12:09 am

            If Bernal wins this year, that would make seven Tours won by Sky/Ineos – with four different riders taking the title. Quite an achievement if it comes to pass.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 1:04 pm

    Nîmes, Alès, Anduze – today’s route sounds like a tour of the clubs competing in the Tour de Mont Aigoual. Will we see light blue “Cycles Goff” jerseys on the side of the road?

  • brent sword Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 1:38 pm

    I don’t think DQS should put to much effort into chasing the break away or setting up the sprint (not even one rider).
    They already look tired and Viviani I recall has had to perform domestique duties in the last few days and probably won’t be at his best in a sprint. Unless the think they cannot win yellow in which case all in for the stage finish after letting the other teams bring back the break.
    Otherwise they need to save their energy and let Viviani surf the wheels if he has the energy to bother. I would not be surprised see him not compete or finish 10th or something.

  • Augie March Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 2:15 pm

    The hot weather would seem to favour Ewan who we know can win bike races in the middle of the Australian summer, and a bit of wind would probably worry him less given what a low profile he has in the sprints.

  • Francisco Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 4:21 pm

    A fresh breeze from the southeast? Could the the Scirocco, a name many readers will be familiar with as Campagnolo (and Maserati) have called some of their products after the winds of the Mediterranean.