Stage 20: Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz, 125km, high mountains
This is one short, sharp, brutal stage to finally seal the deal for the podium in Paris. The short stage means there will be attacks right off the bat and with six climbs, including a steep summit finish on a climb never used before at the Tour, the peloton might take a real kicking today on this final day in the Alps.
Chris Froome‘s position at the head of affairs is secure, barring a major incident, but second to fifth – Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Roman Kreuziger and Joaquim Rodriguez – are separated by just 47 seconds, so we should see a ding-dong battle for the final two podium places. There will be big competition for the final spot in the top ten too, with Michal Kwiatkowski just one second ahead of Laurens ten Dam and 15 in front of Andrew Talansky.
The first half of the race has four climbs – granted, they are a cat 2 and three cat 3s but, considering the fatigue that has set in, these won’t be rides through the park. But it’s in the second half of the stage with its cat 1 and then HC summit finish where it gets really interesting.
The cat 1 Mont Revel is just shy of 16km at an average of 5.6%. Not a big worrier for the peloton but it’s a long, fast descent so anyone trying to put time into their rivals for the podium might very well gain some time here if they aren’t marked. Then it’s the final climb of the final stage of this gripping 100th edition of the Tour de France. The Semnoz is shorter than the climb up Alpe d’Huez at 10.7km, but it has an average gradient of 8.5% – which is steeper than both Alpe d’Huez and Ventoux. If you ask me, this looks like the stage where Rodriguez comes out of hiding and takes the day, although Quintana will also be desperate to conclude a fine debut Tour with a win.
The final summit will also see the fate of the polka dot jersey decided once and for all. Froome currently leads Pierre Rolland by a single point, but Quintana, seven off Froome, may be the best bet of all. 50 points are available for the winner at the top of Annecy-Semnoz. A stage victory for Quintana would almost certainly guarantee him the climber’s jersey to go with the white one he currently sports.
Bit of trivia: Cyrille Guimard won one of the shortest stages in the Tour on Mont Revard in 1972. The stage was only 28km long.
Link: Official website
Header image: Annecy.