The riders take a respite from the mountains today as the Tour de France embarks on a long and potentially tricky transitional stage before the peloton heads to the Alps in the final week of Le Tour.
On paper today’s 208km trek from Montelimar to Villars-Les-Dombes Bird Park looks fairly straightforward. But with some false flats, and the wind to contend with it could become another stage where echelons play a vital part.
But after two punishing days in the high mountains the main GC contenders will be hoping their respective teams keep them up-front and out of the way of any potentially splits that could happen in today’s stage.
The final week of the Tour is nearly nigh, and with that means the introduction of the Alpine passes; the passes that will ultimately decide the fate of the race.
Stage 13 recap
After the drama that engulfed stage 12; the organisers were hoping for a quiet start to proceedings the next day; but the tragic events that unfolded in Nice on Thursday night bought about uncertainty of whether the individual time-trial was going to go ahead, it did with a minutes silence at the beginning and at the end of the stage with the Jersey holders.
The actual days racing was a perfect tribute to those that lost their lives – all the riders gave their all in the hilly 37km course, and it was a time-triallist specialist that came out on top with a blistering time.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) has now won two stages of this year’s Tour and with the Rio Olympics just around the corner, you can’t look any further than him for the Gold medal in the TT in Rio.
But for the likes of Chris Froome (Team Sky), Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) they all posted really good efforts, and for the leader he increased his advantage to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to almost three minutes which is a healthy lead to take into the last week.
At the moment Trek Segafredo’s Bauke Mollema is his closest rival, a minute 47seconds back, and then Yates; who posted a superb time in a discipline which is certainly not his strongest, is now 2mins45s behind the Maillot Jaune holder.
Stage 14 is the penultimate chance for the sprinters to taste victory in the Tour
Although, on paper it looks to be a fairly flat stage, it’s deceivingly hilly. There are a few little leg-burners in the shape of the Cote de Puy-Saint-Martin (3.6km, 5.2%), Cote du Four-a-Chaux (3.9km, 4.2%), and the Cote d’Hauterives (2.1km, 5.5%) which the riders will have to contend with, and then throw in the wind, it could become an difficult day for the peloton.
There are going to be plenty of Green Jersey points up for grabs today, a sprint at La Fayette will be of interest, and then whoever crosses the line first will also gain 50 points as the likes of Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), and Marcel Kittel (Etixx Quickstep) look to chase down Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).