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July 21, 2016 – Friday’s stage 19 the 103rd Tour de France (#TDF2016) stays in the same part of the Alps as Thursday’s time trial. The distance from Albertville to Saint-Gervais is only 46 kilometers, but the race organizers have concocted a very un-Tour-like mountain stage that’s 100 kilometers longer than that, zigzagging from one tough climb to another.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
This is cow country, as seen in this image of the peloton during stage 8 of the 2010 Tour on the Col ds Saisies, where race-winning breakaways have originated in the past.
Barring accidents, Chris Froome will surely retain his yellow jersey and likely increase his current 3:52 overall lead over second-place Baule Mollema; but with Adam Yates, Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Richie Porte and Fabio Aru all within 2:16 of Mollema, the battle for the podium will be intense. Expect Aru, Bardet and Porte to attack, while Mollema and Yates will have to defend.
Some will try to place teammates in an early move, but with the stage starting out on a challenging 7.3-kilometer ascent to the Collet de Tamié (that’s not categorized!), an early breakaway will need strong climbers; especially as after the Tamié descent there’s only 15 kilometers of flat roads before the climbing starts again at the Lake of Annecy up to the Cat. 1 Col de la Forclaz—averaging 7 percent for some 10 kilometers with double-digit sections. After descending that mountain, there’s only 15 kilometers on valley roads before a third climb, the 5.5-kilometer, 8-percent Forclaz de Queige, which is immediately followed by the day’s toughest (and new to the Tour) ascent: the Montée de Bisanne. The second half of this 12.4-kilometer hors-cat climb averages 9.2 percent to the highest point of the day at 5,652 feet (1,723 meters). Attacks here could succeed because the final 45 kilometers consist of a fast 12-kilometer drop from the Col des Saisies; 7 kilometers uphill to Megève; 10 kilometers back down Thursday’s TT course to Domancy; 3 kilometers of flat; and the 9.8-kilometer climb to the finish that opens with 13- and 11-percent kilometers. This rugged stage is sure to produce some shocks!