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July 14, 2016 – If Richie Porte and Chris Froome don’t feel effects from crashing at full speed into a stationary TV motorbike on Mont Ventoux, they have the strongest chances of winning Friday’s stage 13 time trial at the 103rd Tour de France (#TDF2016).
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
But the likeliest outcome is a victory for this man, four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara in the final year of his career. A tweet from Cancellara on Tuesday gave an indication of his form: “Hope it was not only the rest day that have given me finally some better legs. #dieselengine.” Indeed, on the three stages since the Andorra rest day Cancellara has frequently been leading the peloton for his Trek-Segafredo team—especially for team leader Bauke Mollema on the approaches to Ventoux on Thursday before the Swiss superstar sat up to climb the mountain in a gruppetto, saving his strength for Friday.
On paper, the hilly 37.5-kilometer TT across the Ardèche region doesn’t suit Spartacus, but three examples say otherwise: the 2008 Olympic title he won on a challenging 47-kilometer course at the Great Wall of China; the opening stage of the 2009 Tour on a hilly 15.5-kilometer course in Monaco, where he dominated a field containing four world TT champions (this image); and, a week before this Tour, his 10th national TT title over a 41-kilometer course that included a couple of stiff climbs.
Friday’s stage opens with a 7-kilometer hill from Bourg-Saint-Andéol that climbs 1,000 vertical feet and it ends with a 3.3-kilometer, 5-percent uphill to the finish at La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc. In between come 13 kilometers across an open, windswept plateau, 6 kilometers of downhill (including a steep, twisting descent to the Ardèche gorge) and 7 kilometers along the valley floor.
The technical course will be made more challenging by strong cross- and headwinds gusting to 65 kilometers per hour—conditions that suit heavier riders such as Cancellara and Tony Martin, while the lighter-built GC men tend to get blown around in strong winds. Of those in contention for Froome’s yellow jersey, the shorter riders have an advantage, notably Porte, Nairo Quintana and Adam Yates.