After a flat stage to Montpellier yesterday which saw the usual script torn up and thrown out of the window today the rider’s turn their attention and tackle the most iconic climb the Tour de France has to offer: Mont Ventoux.
The route to Montpellier saw a usual suspect win, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) took the victory after attacking with 12km remaining, but it was the second placed rider which was a surprise; Team Sky’s Chris Froome stole another couple of seconds over Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) as he rolled over the line behind Sagan.
But today Froome will be expecting attacks from all sides; everything leads to Ventoux. The route beforehand is pretty biennial – but when the riders hit that famous climb all hell should break loose on the slopes.
Sports fans outside of cycling will not know Ventoux’s history, but if you ask any cycling nut – the climb is like a symbolic place for some – it was on Ventoux that Britain’s most famous cyclist Tom Simpson died on the ascent of Ventoux in 1967.
And over the years we have seen some sensational performances on the 15.7km climb; one highlight was Froome’s win on the mountain in 2013.
And for Sky they will be hoping he can replicate a ride like that and try to put yet more time into his rivals this afternoon; but as we have seen with this Tour so far, expect the unexpected.
All roads lead to Ventoux today
Prior to the Ventoux climb the stage should essential be a stroll for most of the peloton; of course a breakaway will try it lucks, and if the peloton are too concerned with the GC contenders, it might be allowed to go all the way.
But the action will be further down the road between the likes of Froome, Quintana, Yates, and possibly Fabio Aru (Astana) who lost some time a couple of stage's ago. And with the Sicilian’s climbing ability it could be the perfect stage to try and claw back some time.
Before the ‘Bald Mountain’ there is a sprint at Molleges-Gare, and then there are two categories climbs to test the peloton’s legs before the big one; the Cote de Gordes (3.3km, 4.8%) and the Col des Trois Termes (2.5km, 7.5%) might shake out any rider’s who are suffering.
And then by the time we get to Ventoux only a select group of riders will start the climb, and then from there the pace should go up, attacks will start, and excitement on the road should really reach fever pitch.
If a breakaway doesn’t succeed today, then a winner could certainly come from one of the GC guys – this is where they show their cards – Froome done it in 2013.
You just get the sense that the Columbian Quintana has to produce a special moment if he has aspirations of winning the Maillot Jaune. As in the last two editions of the race he has failed to topple Froome – but if he can produce a moment, it might well knock Froome off his stride.