Monday’s rest day was a much deserved affair for the riders of 2013 Tour de France, after a grueling day up Mont Ventoux, that saw leader Chris Froome of Sky dominate and take firm control of the maillot jaune.
The Briton is unlikely to lose the Tour, especially with another individual time trial tomorrow but the race for a spot on the podium is far from over. I tweeted on the weekend that there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Alberto Contador attacking and never underestimate the determination of the wily Spaniard.
But enough talk of the past and musing on the future. Let’s focus on the present, stage 16 from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap.
Today’s stage is not an easy return to the race with riders embarking on a 168 kilometre ride that includes three category two climbs.
The first of these climbs, the Cote de la Montagne coming just eleven kilometres in, is a 5.7 kilometre climb with a gradient of 5.6%.
From the summit, the riders will have a short descent before heading straight into the next climb of the day, the category two Col de Macuegne. This is a slightly longer climb at 7.6 kilometres with a gradient of 5.2%.
Once past these first two climbs, riders will continue on an undulating course for another hundred or so kilometres, until they reach the base of the last categorized climb, the Col de Manse at the 145 kilometre mark.
This final climb for the day runs for 9.5 kilometres with a gradient of 5.2%.
Riders will summit the climb at the 156 kilometre point and the stage will finish with a 12 kilometre descent into Gap.
The day’s stage may be a good stage for a breakaway to succeed, perhaps Europcar or another French rider will chase France’s first stage victory in this year’s Tour. It certainly would be a shame if the 100th edition of the Tour de France passed by without victory for the French.
The sprinters would have welcomed yesterday’s rest day and they surely will be looking forward to tomorrow’s time trial, which many will treat as a quasi rest day too. Today’s stage, however, will need to be endured first.
Today’s stage may prove to be more interesting than what it appears on paper, especially with Contador running out of chances to challenge Froome and Bauke Mollema fighting to stay on the podium.
Friday’s stage from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond certainly surprised many and whilst this year’s Tour seems all sewn up, thankfully, it hasn’t been the boring procession of last year’s.
Today’s stage could end being equally surprising. Here’s hoping for a lively affair.
I’m looking forward to bringing you all of the action from 10pm AEST.