Tour de France Course Report and Prediction
The organizers of the Tour de France seem to have cottoned on to the formula that their counterparts of the Tours of Italy and Spain have settled on to make their races more competitive and interesting.
14, a 191-km ride from Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioulle to Lyon, will feature seven categorized climbs, all of which will be Category 3s and 4s. The climbs will not be particularly arduous, but with the Alps looming, the peloton might not chase a breakaway.
Stage 15 will be a one-trick pony, but what a trick! The 242.5-km run from Givors to Mont Ventoux will end with the fabled hors categorie climb to the finish. The stage, the longest of this year’s Tour, will have four other categorized ascents, but none tougher than Category 3. The stage, and for some the Tour, will come down to the climb to the finish.
Stage 16 will be a deceptively challenging one. The 168-km ride from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap will feature three Category 2 ascents, the last coming only 12 km from the finish. It appears to be a stage that a late escape will decide, but a contender who steals a march on the competition or one who is not alert could gain or lose time.
Stage 17 will be the second individual time trial of this year’s Tour. This event will be a mountain time trial. The 32-km ride from Embrun to Chorges will take the riders over two Category 2 climbs. Riders such as Christopher Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) should stand out and take time out of their rivals.
Stage 18 will be a 168-km ride from Gap to L’Alpe d’Huez. The riders will breast the famous climb twice, the second time at the end of the stage. Look for a battle at the second of these two climbs, with Contador, Froome, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Movistar), Evans, and others fighting for the yellow jersey.
Stage 19 will be more pain for the riders. The 204.5-km ride from Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand will take the riders over the hors categorie Col du Glandon and Col de la Madeleine, the Category 2 Col de Tamie, and the Category 1 Col de l’Epine and Col de la Croix Fry before descending to the finish. A no-hope climber might take this stage, with the heads of state doing battle behind him.
Stage 20 will be the final opportunity for contenders and climbers to take time out of their rivals or win a stage. The ride from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz will feature six categorized climbs, with the Category 1 Mont Revard at 78.5 km and the hors categorie ascent to the finish being the most important. The stage should be fiercely contested because Stage 21, a flat, 133.5-km run from Versailles to the Champs Elysees, will be a procession for the overall winner.
Who will the winner be? Two men go to the head of the class. The first is Froome. The 28-year-old Kenya-born Briton has demonstrated that he has all of the tools to win the Tour de France. Last year, he demonstrated more climbing ability than Bradley Wiggins, his team captain, and Froome’s silver medal at last year’s Summer Olympics speaks volumes about his time trialing. In addition, Froome has an outstanding team