A real teaser of a rolling stage in the Massif Central. One where the peloton will pray for respite from the stifling heat, and one with yet another sting in the tail.
Saturday 18th July: Stage 14 – Rodez to Mende, medium mountains, 178.5km
There are four categorised climbs on the route, the first one coming 20km from the start and the last three in the final 40km. After 40km the peloton swoop down to meander through the beautiful Gorges du Tarn. They won’t have time to admire at the scenery, however it will be stunning in those overhead helicopter shots as the expected breakaway ride like the wind to keep their advantage.
They’ll need a hefty time gap because the climbs come thick and fast now. The cat 2 Côte de Sauveterre followed by the cat 4 Côte de Chabrits will thin out the weak before battle commences on the slopes of the cat 2 Côte de la Croix Neuve. At 3km with an average of 10.1%, this climb is both longer and steeper than the Murs du Huy and Bretagne. Cresting the top still leaves a flat out 1.5km barrel down an old landing strip to the finish line. It’s a finish finely balanced between puncheurs and climbers, and the GC guys will also be tempted to take their chance. My tip, look for the riders who took it easy yesterday – another Purito vs Fuglsang perhaps? J-Rod won on this very finish here in 2010, outsprinting one Alberto Contador to take victory …
Link: Official race website
Header image: Les Vignes, Gorges du Tarn – Claude Valette https://www.flickr.com/photos/cvalette/8138854039/