A transport stage as we normally call it. It is 200 km long which makes it hard to control. It has 2400 climbing meters which is something the sprinters will not be a big fan of either. We saw how easily they can break after two hard days in the Alps.
It will be hilly just like on stage 14. This means it will be strong riders getting in the breakaway.
With 57.5 km left, there is a long climb but it is not very steep. I can imagine some teams wanting to put the hammer down if the gap to the breakaway is maintained from the start.
After the false flat at the end of Col des Cammazes, there is a downhill with a few hills in between. From what I have seen a few times happen are the last attack going here and someone soloing it. If not, it can be a difficult place for the peloton to gain on the breakaway too.
With 3 corners inside the last 1.1 km, it is not the easiest finish. The first with 1100m left is a right turn in a roundabout, stretching it out. The second with 650m left turn is not very sharp. The same for the corner with 200 meters left.
It will not be very windy at the start but it will pick it the closer we get to the finish. A cross-headwind in the last 60 km makes it easier for the heavier riders to survive Col des Cammazes. It will be very, very hot again.
How will the stage unfold?
The bumpy start makes it ideal for the morning breakaway. The rouleurs with a lot of power will love the start. From what I saw on stage 13, it is quite clear that the teams with a sprinter do not work well together. It looked amusing with four teams trying to control they day, just to go over the limit and lose their sprinter. If they get their tactic together and cooperate, they should stand a better chance. With a headwind on the last hard climb, they should also have a better shot at winning the stage.
Who will control it? I doubt Ewan is fit to fight that leaves Lotto out. I doubt Jakobsen can climb well enough, he had a tough few days in the Alps, rule Quick-Step out. Mads Pedersen is flying but what will his tactic be? I think he will just try for the morning break again – why not. That leaves Trek out. Groenewegen / Matthews? BikeExchange has a funny way of deciding when to go for the stage win. They mistime it quite often. But it is BEX and Alpecin (Phillipsen) who should be the main workforce tomorrow. Alpecin is down to just five riders in total. It will be a big task. 2400 climbing meters and over 200 km in 35 degrees C? Good luck.
Looking at the finale, attacking with around 10 km left mean you will have a crosswind to the finish and not a headwind. I think we will see someone go free there and take the stage win.
Cort – while his team had a field day in the breakaway today, with Bettiol riding for Uran and Powless (and mainly himself), Cort had a day off. Now, he has not had a lot of those in the Tour de France. I can imagine he is a bit fatigued but he has rested a lot since his stage win in Megève and he has not really gone deep since. I think he can do rather well, but it would be optimal if he had a helper – likely Rutch.
Mohoric – Well, either I’m stubborn or Mohoric is unlucky. Five stages he has tried getting in the morning breakaway and five times failed. It is just not usual at all. Another chance awaits tomorrow, very long and lumpy. His specialty. He needs a few words when it comes to winning breakaway stages. Fred Wright is an option too. What a year he is having. Or Tratnik.
Politt – the German has worked his ass off for his teammates. Now, I think it is time for himself to get up the road. He has a big engine and he has been climbing very well. It feels like he is defying gravity when I see him live, such a big rider climbing so well. Marco Haller is another strong option. A very strong rider with a good sprint.
B. Thomas – I thought he would give today a go but he was not up there. He does not have a good track record when it comes to the last week of a Grand Tour. I would not be surprised if he is tired about now. If he is not, he has shown a few times this year he can be very dangerous when he get in the morning break. He is a good climber, he can solo and he can sprint well too.
Taco van der Hoorn – completely overcooked on stage 13 when trying to get in the morning breakaway. I do wonder if 2400 climbing meters are too much for him, it shouldn’t be. I think it is the heat. Most times riders just need to get used to it which I also hope is the case for Taco tomorrow.
Pedersen – breakaway or sprint? He and Stuyven could do very well up the road tomorrow. I mean, why not?
Phillipsen – should win the sprint from the peloton, if we see a normal bunch sprint.
Who will win?
I’m going for the numbers tomorrow, Bahrain-Victorious. I will go for Matej Mohoric once again. He simply excels in long and hilly stages.