Tour de France Stage 16 Preview

It’s into the Pyrenees with two short but hard climbs, especially the second one and then a tactical descent into Foix.

The Route: 178km and 3,400m of vertical gain. It’s a ride out of Carcassonne to Limoux and some hidden climbs, there’s the climb to Saint-Hilaire but also the small Col du Loup and the Col d’Al Bosc before a descent into Limoux. From here the Pyrenean foothills start with the small Col de l’Espinas (“thorn pass”), nothing surprising and (there’s another Col de l’Espinas not far away which is harder, today uses the easy one that hardly feels like a pass).

Then some déjà vu as the route picks up part of Stage 14 from last year going via the Col du Bac to Lavelanet. Then the route picks up a big road to go to Tarascon, a town with plenty of mountain passes within reach.

Here there’s more déjà vu with the same route from here to the finish as Stage 15 in the 2019 Tour (that day had the Prat d’Albis climb tagged on the end). The Port de Lers is 11km at 7% but with some steep sections of 11% at the start and midway again, the top flattens out before a fast descent with some hairpins but nothing wild to Massat and there’s no rest, the descent leads straight into the next climb.

Mur sounds better than col, “wall” rather than “pass” and it’s a label invented by the race because it’s just the Col de Péguère for locals. The climb out of Massat goes via the Col de Four and it’s a steady road. It pitches up more to the Col des Caognous again on a wide road. Then they turn off for the Mur which featured in the 2012 and 2017. It was supposed to feature in the 1973 edition but the riders went on strike to protest at it because the road was a mess. It’s got double digit percentages with portions of 16% and 18%.

It’s followed by a 27km descent, a bigger road but the slope varies, the first part of the descent is gentle forcing the riders to pedal hard which is not good for anyone dropped on the way up because they must keep going. It’s only later that they drop down to the Col de Marrous does the slope get steep with 10%. It bends and twists through the forest, there’s rarely much visibility of what’s coming up and a rider with 20 seconds can be out of sight.

The Finish: they descend into Foix on a gentle slope and the road levels out in town. They go one way down the main street and just before the Ariège river they do a U-turn on a wide 180° bend, it’s not a dead turn but it’s slow and on the exit there’s just 200m to the finish line.

The Contenders: a good day for the breakaway to stay clear but the paradox of a relatively flat section at the start where it’ll be hard for the climbers to muscle their way clear; but any rouleurs who get away early will find the two mountain passes to come too hard to cross.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) is an obvious pick but probably too easy, he might prefer long climbs and a summit finish rather than today’s steep climb and the long descent.

This has all the hallmarks of a Luis Leon Sanchez (Bahrain) stage… a decade ago, he’s now a bit long in the tooth but his style was to go solo on the descent. He beat Peter Sagan for this stage win in 2012 which suggests Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) might have a chance if he can cope with the climb.

Tom Pidcock (Ineos) is a pick, he can cope with the steep climb and today’s descent to the finish isn’t for daredevils but he won’t lose ground and he’s got a good sprint.

On paper Max Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe) should win a stage but his form’s still in doubt. Lennard Kämna is looking sharper but how to win ill? Patrick Konrad won a stage last year but repeating is a big ask.

Bob Jungels (Ag2r Citroën) has a stage win and was a solid 17th on the stage to Alpe d’Huez, if he can get over the final climb in contention he’s able to barge clear on the descent or win a small sprint.\

Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) has real issues downhills, but today’s stage isn’t so bad for descents.

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) looks like a pick but the form’s also in doubt, likewise Dylan Teuns (Bahrain) but he’s handy in a sprint from a group so higher rated. Michael Woods (Israel) is chasing a stage win and would prefer it to be on top of the Col de Péguère, and his wins are usually solo because he tends to lose out in a sprint.

Astana are having a tough Tour and a torrid season but Alexey Lutsenko could strike today, he’s good on shorter climbs and packs a decent sprint.

Lastly there’s the GC contest and the final climb is very hard, there’s a good chance of a battle here, it’s just that a breakaway ought to be well clear. Tadej Pogačar (UAE) packs a sprint.

Bob Jungels, Tom Pidcock, Alexey Lutsenko
Verona, Pinot, Powless, Pogačar, Latour, Teuns, Mollema, Schachmann, Caruso, Woods, Matthews

Weather: sunny and 30°C with a northerly breeze that could gust to 30km/h. There’s also an outside chance of a thunderstorm or a downpour later.

TV: the start is at 12.30pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST. The Port de Lers should start around 3.30pm.

Food and drink: the race goes through Limoux, home of blanquette, a sparking wine. But not any sparkling wine, the blanquette de Limoux is said to be the world’s first sparkling wine when it was first made by Benedictine monks in the nearby Saint-Hilaire abbey, it predates Dom Pérignon’s champagne by over 150 years. Limoux’s wine is a renaissance wine but isn’t celebrated – few wine critics rave about it, no rap lyrics cite it – but it is value compared to champagne whose price is jacked up by fixed supply and global demand. Blanquette has the local grape mauzac as the dominant variety, there is also crémant from Limoux which has chardonnay as the main grape.

48 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 16 Preview”

  1. It is possible that we have already had the climb of truth but those last three km on today’s final climb look very interesting.

  2. The Mur de Péguère is so steep (the other Yates dropped a TdF breakaway there and went on to win the stage) that following a wheel will provide negligeable advantage. If Pogi can break the elastic on the climb he could well stay away as J-V won’t have much in the way of chasing help at that point.

    • If I was JV I would let Pog go on climb and save myself for another day. With the downhill descent I’d stick WVA and so whatever time losses (and let’s make clear a breakaway will win to ensure no bonus seconds) are soon gobbled up. A lot of toil for nothing.
      JV is green though. I think he will bite at every move Pog makes.

      • With The Cadaver in yellow we’ll see how generous HE is with stage wins/bonus seconds. Will those who piled on Pogacar say the same things about him if he behaves in a similar fashion? Assuming he figures he’s more-or-less-equal to Pogacar in the chrono all he really needs to do is keep his rival in sight until then while Pogacar can (and I hope he will) go-for-broke, win-it-or-bin-it, do or die or whatever phrase you prefer. Meanwhile, will the “marginal gains” people pull something out of their collective helmets today or tomorrow? Vive LeTour!

        • If I had to choose between Vinny and The Cadaver, I’d probably stop following the sport. I cannot express how happy it makes me that I’m able to call him simply Vingegaard.
          I would ask whether the nickname is Larry T’s own invention or whether he picked it up from someone in Italian media, but I don’t think I want to know the answer.
          PS May I kindly suggest that you should concentrate less of what others may or may not say in some hypothetical, yet unhappened or alternative situaion (and piling your disdain or whatever it is on them in advance) and concentrate on commenting on the race, on what we have seen and giving us your insights (which I can easily imagine being more interesting than for example mine)?

          • “PS May I kindly suggest that you should concentrate less of what others may or may not say in some hypothetical, yet unhappened or alternative situaion ” is kind of funny since most of the comments here are just that.
            But no worries…if I’ve been “voted off the island” it’s not a big deal…I’m kind of surprised I’ve lasted as long as this anyway. As they say in France …”au revoir”

          • If so, then I must say that is not an outcome I had in mind or wished for. You were not among my favorites to win this Tour, but it doesn’t make me glad to see you DNF for whatever reason.

      • Larry T – awful nickname by the way, praying that isn’t anything more than your own doing.

        Let’s see how it goes. I think Pogacar can be creative how he does this. Plus, I can’t see Ineos making a difference this tour. They are one full step below JV/Pogacar. And it looks like they have learned to stop controlling the group when they aren’t wearing the leaders’ jersey.

  3. Bardet to give it a go on the final climb? If so I’d expect Pogacar to follow or attack anyway. He’s got 2 minutes to catch up and the stages are running out. A thunderstorm on the descent to the line will make things interesting.

  4. I like the idea of Pidcock for the stage, but taking Yates with him on a raid. Will give the now weakened UAE and Jumbo teams something to chew on, whilst still leaving Thomas with sufficient support. Well, we live in hope.

    • That sounds like a plan. Or at least it sounds as good as any for Ineos. They really do need to have a ‘Jumbo’ day if they really do have their eyes on yellow (everything indicates the opposite). Problem is they’ve got Vinny and Pog to drop.

    • Lots of “fun” scenarios however Ineos have been refusing to play. Apparently Tadej Pogacer has been suggesting that they launch joint “raids” and G has been refusing to get involved. His plan seems very much to sit tight and see if an opportunity comes up. Difficult to know if they would benefit from a more aggressive approach.

      • They’ve had both Castroviejo and Martinez far from 100% for the first two weeks, which has limited their options somewhat. Both are now back near to full fitness according to Watt’s Occurring so perhaps we will see something different.

        • All true. BUT the team is being directed by a DS who as a rider was well known for ‘lurking’ at the rear of the peloton for 100s of Ks and occasionally making well timed attacks.

          I have seen little to suggest that either Thomas or Yates are prepared or able to take the race to those above them. This is week three so maybe there will be a change.

      • A bit ludicrous for Pog to suggest they go on a joint raid together. Why should Thomas help him only for him to drop Thomas like a stone at the end of stage. Thomas has a much better chance having a steady ride (which he prefers) with Jumbo. Also Ineos is riding for Thomas, so there’s no chance Pidcock or Yates would work with him to compromise Thomas. If an Ineos go with him, all they should do is sit on his wheel. That would certainly annoy him and compromise the break. The only benefit he can get from an Ineos GC leader in the move is not to be chased by Ineos which they wouldn’t do until JV burnt out anyway.

        He really should have gone to Bardet or Niro for this. But then Pog might consider their help not enough.

        • yes, and what they probably hope for is pogacar and vingegaard to burn each other out so he can then counterattack and capitalize on it.

        • I think Pog knows they can’t help since every time he attacks they get dropped. Thomas is his only ally because he isn’t getting left behind. But Thomas doesn’t have the acceleration to leave the orbit of these two suns so his only choice is to follow.

  5. Going to be a good stage tonight.. no mention of ciccone? Thought he may chase the polka dot jersey tonight? He seemed really keen to try get it on the Alp dehuez stage..

    • There also seem to be different views about how difficult the descent to Massat is. I’m sure Inrng has ridden it so he/she knows best but if it is at all technical I expect Pidcock to have a go there.

      • The Port de l’Hers? It’s a small back road but not as steep going down as the way up, it follows a stream/river later for a lot of the time and bends and twists like the water course, so it’s irregular but not wild. A good descender taking a clever line can take time anywhere but it’s not so fast, nobody will sweep down gracefully at 100km/h.

    • Its on the Tour website

      “Fuglsang, Kämna, Chérel and Paret-Peintre won’t start today


      Four non-starters today: Jakob Fuglsang who had broken ribs from a crash on Sunday, Lennard Kämna due to a persistent cold, according to his team, Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-Citroën) who tested positive for Covid. AG2R-Citroën remains in the race with 3 riders only: Benoît Cosnefroy, Stan De Wulf and stage 9 winner Bob Jungels.”

      • That’s an AG2R-Citröen rider in today’s break for sure, then.
        Cosnefroy with Pinot and Latour, so France can dream.

        Might be a bit of a saving it for tomorrow stage today. Or not. It’s a great Tour for action.

      • Thanks 😊 Strange they list it on withdrawal list only after the stage starts. But i see it as you say in live feed on stage.. seems one has to read the feed before stage too see withdrawals.

  6. As Inrng said descent probably not technical enough for Pidcock to make it stick. How about WVA and Vinny to make the most of the heat and do one over on Pog on the climbs: Vinny to gift Wout the win..

  7. I have to admit, I really didn’t rate Israel’s chances before the start of this TDF (especially after their disastrous Giro), but they’ve been really, really good. I’m curious to see where things stand in the relegation battle after the end of the Tour. It looks like Israel could leapfrog both Movistar and EF in the standings if they keep this form through the end of the season.

  8. couple thoughts: kuss looked majestic taking over after majka issue (chain?). it really looked like pogi couldn’t attack. (perhaps vinge should have?)
    the jumbo 2 vans (aert, hooy) looked risky when tiesj was laboring to keep vlasov from yellow for 2 hours but looked great when van hooy settled the 1st descent and van aert brought it all home with no more attacks on final descent.
    i realize i am merely an old man/ old fan on an internet forum but how did bike exchange not have schultz in break?? he was awesome in the same day after rest day medium tough alps stage. he also climbed in top 7-8 of gc group today. he was my pick despite the no rings from inner ring!
    final 2 days are almost all climb/descend and shorter. kuss won’t get a ton of warm up before tiesj and wout look to him.
    nairo looked great – i’m going with him for first to attack despite pogacar’s obvious class and impetuousness.
    despite vinge’s unwillingness to move from pogacar’s wheel i’m picking vinge to gain 10-15 secs on the final ramp tomorrow. spectating feels up there with 2019 – a very enjoyable race!

  9. Great win today for Houle!!!

    He was coming up as a junior/U23 when I was racing (I’m from Canada) and it’s amazing to see him hit these heights! First major win in a long career of hard work. Chapeau sir!

    Great to have Mr Bauer in the car with him!

  10. Disappointing to see Woods sit on Jorgenson till what 1k to go?, then both caught by Madouas. Costing both Woods and Jorgenson 2nd and third place respectively. If Woods would of worked a bit Madouas would not have caught them, Houle was clear to win?

  11. If Woods had worked a bit with Jorgenson and Houle had had an awkward moment on the descend or a small technical mishap and the two had caught up with him and Jorgenson had been the strongest in a sprint…
    The odds of all that happening were perhaps small but remember the SunTzu quote: “Never risk the necessary for the desirable.” 🙂

    But, yes, a hugely satisfying win for anyone who loves it whene bold moves are rewarded and when hardworking domestiques have their day (and, to a slightly lesser degree, when underperforming teams manage to make the most of their potential).

    PS The UCI points that the two stage wins (and Froome’s and Woods’ good placings on the result list) bring are more or less matched Groenewegen’s and Matthews’ stage wins and Cort’s stage win and Powless Top 10-12 GC finish. But Movistar and Lotto-Soudal are on their way down the ranking…

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