Published: Friday, 24 July 2015 14:10
Written by Jamie Naragon
The penultimate mountain stage of the 2015 Tour de France left everything wide open before Saturday's showdown on the Alpe d'Huez -110km including the climb towards the Croix de Fer (HC) before the most famous ascent in professional road cycling-. Nairo Quintana slightly approached GC leader Chris Froome (SKY) in the overall standings while Alejandro Valverde kept his 3rd place into a podium he'll have to defend with all energy after struggling, from the final meters of the Glandon, against a new big threat: Vincenzo Nibali (AST).
A brutal start to the stage caused Froome being let with no team-mates after 18km of a total 138 on today's programme, almost through the summit of the Col du Chaussy (Cat-1). Malori and Herrada entered the opening moves, soon countered by Valverde, who responded to attacks from Contador (TCS) and Nibali himself. When the 'Shark' attacked as Froome suffered from misfortune, José Herrada was responsible to lead the charge from the group with prodigious insistence, limiting losses that kept growing until 2'10" on the foot of La Toussuire, the decisive ascent of today's stage.
Read more: Quintana gains 32" back on Froome
Published: Thursday, 23 July 2015 13:37
Written by Jamie Naragon
A short but hard Stage 19 greets the riders of the 2015 Tour de France as they tackle 138kms from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles. The intermediate sprint occurs as 42kms in Epierre, but the climbs once again are the highlight of the day:
• Km 15.5 - Col du Chaussy (1 533 m) (D77-VC)15.4 kilometre-long climb at 6.3% - category 1
• Km 83.0 - Col de la Croix de Fer (2 067 m)22.4 kilometre-long climb at 6.9% - category H
• Km 103.0 - Col du Mollard (1 638 m)5.7 kilometre-long climb at 6.8% - category 2
• Km 138.0 - LA TOUSSUIRE (1 705 m)18 kilometre-long climb at 6.1% - category 1
This stage has been pegged by many as the “deciding” one in this year’s Tour. While Froome has a comfortable lead, anything can happen, so it will be interesting to see what attacks may happen.
The Col du Chaussy is a new climb for the Tour and precedes a Tour “favorite” Croix de Fer—the longest single climb in this year’s Tour. Its long descent is interrupted by the next climb, the Col du Mollard which is a very technical descent replete with hairpins. The slightly “easier” La Toussuire is magnified in difficulty by ending this tough stage that includes more kilometres of climbing than any other stage (61kms). Furthermore, La Toussuire’s finish is the longest summit finish in this year’s Tour.
We will probably see the tactic where team captains send domestiques into the break early to meet up with them further up the road. It will be interesting to see if Bardet or Rodriguez attack for more KOM points as well.