This is the shortest road stage of the Tour, but don’t let that fool you. With three cat 1 peaks to scale before the summit finish on the hors catégorie Pla d’Adet, this is going to be full-gas, flat-out racing from the moment the flag drops. Find a TV and don’t move.
Wednesday 23rd July: Stage 17 – Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet, high mountains, 124.5km
With nearly 29km of climbing before they even reach the summit finish, there is no place to hide on this stage. The Col de Peyresourde is the longest ascent at 13.2km. However, it’s the following climb of the Col de Val Louron-Azet, with its double-digit sections and swooping descent, that should see the first fireworks.
The final 10.2km ascent to the summit of Pla d’Adet has its steepest sections at the base of the climb –over 10% – and will be raced at speed. Only the toughest of skinny climbers are going to succeed here. If I had to make the call, I’d say the breakaway are going to win today, with the GC riders having their own personal battle behind. There are several teams who would dearly love – in fact, need – a stage win, so perhaps this could be a day for someone such as Sky’s Mikel Nieve.
Spare a thought for the hard-pressed gruppetto today. Short, fast stages with lots of climbing are a nightmare for the sprinters as they struggle to come home within the time limit. Let’s hope Bernie Eisel ‘makes the calculation’ and keeps them safe for another day of racing.
Link: Official website
Header image: Adams memorial at Saint-Gaudens