Stage 12: Montpellier - Chalet Reynard
Not the Mont Ventoux stage we might have expected, but it's the one we get.
What's It About?
Rebooting the GC battle, and now that Froome is clearly such a beast on the flats, Quintana might finally attack here. Yet again this year, extreme waether, of a sort, has forced the stage to be altered, with the chance of hundred kph winds causing the moonscape bit of Mont Ventoux being cut. Oh, and it's Bastille Day, so watch out for motivated French riders.
This is the second time in four Tours that Mont Ventoux has been used, and the tenth time it's been a stage finish. Stages finishing here have usually but not always been won by a GC contender.
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Each stage we bring you suggestions regarding the local fare from AmyBC. Check out her blog Winebookgirl for more.
Wine:Domaine de Fenouillet Ventoux Rose It has Ventoux on the label after all.
This Rosé is vinified partially by direct press and partially by “saignée”, the juice is naturally clarified after a cold “débourbage” of 24 hours, the wine ferments at temperature that never exceeds 16 degrees Celsius and then it is aged on the fine lees for four to six months before bottling. It is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah, all of which is planted to soils of clay, limestone and silex.
Food: Provencal olives. Another Tour specialty.
Provence Web tells me that: The olive tree is considered to be sacred throughout Provence.
It has been immortalised by Cezanne and Van Gogh, praised and celebrated by Mistral and Giono and is one of the most typical elements of the Provençal landscape and culture.
Yeah, there's one that stands out.
Like all Mont Ventoux stages, it's mostly flat until the botton of the climb, with just a couple of lower category ascents before the main mountain. Speaking of which...
But as you know by this stage, it's only the first nine-and-a-half kilometres of that, which is admittedly the steepest part. The shorter climb will make it less of a race of attrition, and they won't be turning into a headwind at Chalet Reynard. It's roughly the same length as Arcalis, but a consistent three per cent steeper.
Here's the map:
Which yet again could have an impact. Yet again, we have winds that could disrupt the race, again from the north.
Even stronger than stage 11, with gusts of eighty kph. However, I don’t expect anyone to try to split the field with such a difficult climb to come. The peloton will be nervous though, and it'll be another fast day.
Riders to Watch
We can narrow it down to the five riders who climbed best on Arcalis. In descending order:
Dan Martin is giving interviews all round him, saying that he doesn't give a damn about GC, only about stage wins, he doesn't know what colour the leader's jersey is and he's never heard of the podium presentation. But after climbing so well on Arcalis, putting in constant attacks and only getting slightly tailed off at the end, he's clearly one of the race's top climbers, with a good chance of the podium. He'll probably be relieved that five kilometres have been lopped off the climb. The shorter climb should help the punchy rider, but if he has a bad day, nothing will help him. However, if he gets to the line with another rider, he should win the sprint. His lack of time-trial skills will both make him wish to attack ahead of the contre-la-montre tomorrow, and also make him less of a threat.
Richie Porte was strong on Arcalis, and didn't seemingly have much trouble keeping with Froome when he attacked. However, he always has a bad day in the mountains, and while he tried to attack on Arcalis, it didn't do much to the group. He'll also be a threat to Froome and co. with the time-trial, so I don't expect him to win here.
Nairo Quintana has been a mystery so far in this Tour de France, and will probably be the most hurt by the lack of kilometres on what was the toughest climb in the Tour de France.
Can he attack Froome? Well, Froome is very, very strong. We can see that in how he's been riding, and I certainly don’t think that attacking with Peter Sagan in a crosswind is something that would (or even can) be done as a bluff. Will it tire him out? No more than an attack on a mountain. Nothing Froome has done has made me believe that he's not going to be the strongest.
Adam Yates? He will try to hang on and stay on the podium.
Pick to Win
I'm sorry, I cannot see past Froome. Quintana could beat him, but I don't see it. If neither of them do, Martin might be let away.