Stage 13: Bourg-Saint-Andéol - La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc 37,5 km TT
After the mayhem of the Semi-Ventoux we need a quiet timetrial to calm our nerves.
What's It About?
Finally we are giving the GC riders in the Tour some real timetrialing to handle. Last year was absurdly TT barren and this brings us back to a little more balanced parcourse. It also gives us plenty of opportunities to see aerial shots of the beautiful Ardéche region and the Gorges de l’Ardéche in particular. The finish is nearby the site of the worlds oldest known cave paintings.
The paleolithic painting above is said to depict a young Chris Horner on his very first hunt , a milestone in his young life.
The paintings are now a Unesco World Heritage site with a visitor center opened last year, count on seeing the building in the coverage.
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: Herve Souhaut's Romaneaux-Destezet Blanc 2012 FranklyWines says: Souhaut! Herve Souhaut's Romaneaux-Destezet Blanc 2012 is really excellent - rolly polly silky viognier/roussanne
Food: Creme de Marrons Clement Faugier, founded in 1882 produces this sweet confection with chestnuts picked in Ardeche and a hint of vanilla for baking and eating.Use in cookies and mille feuille baking, add to whipped cream for pies and toppings. Use chestnut spread on toast, a croissant or fresh brioche.
The course is a not just the standard flat long TT for the big engines as was the habit a few years ago. Once again we are treated to a bit of a complex course with two not insignificant climbs and one descent.
It should be just enough to not make it a foregone conclusion that the Tony Martins of the world will totally dominate the proceedings. Make no mistake though, it is no mountain timetrial even if that climb right from the start will put extraordinary demands on the riders’ ability to pace their efforts correctly. We may see one or two great first intermediate times that then go up in smoke.
Riders to Watch
Fabian Cancellara is racing his very last big Grand Tour TT and you would expect him to have it as a target but he was surprisingly active in today’s stage so he may not be the biggest favorite after all. Instead we should perhaps be looking to riders like Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis who are maybe the ones most focused for this day. The course has just the right balance of rouleur/climbing to suit those too. Tony Martin doesn’t look so hot in this race but he surely merits a mention. I just don’t think he is the biggest favorite.
Perhaps more interesting this will be a huge GC day. The top 10 has a few truly terrible timetrialers who need to overachieve here not to slide down the rankings. Rodrgiguez and Martin could lose a lot of ground as can Bardet and Yates. Meintjes could see the top 10 slide out of his grasp too. All these guys need to perform to their best and a guy like Bardet has presumably been working on it to make himself a contender. His track record isn’t the best though. The varied course should help these guys a little too, there are sections where they can limit losses to the specialists. For Dan Martin today’s time loss probably wasn’t the best medicine for his TT morale. If he had been still up among the best he might have been “flying” in the TT but now I worry if he will revert to old style and take a big loss in the TT and then revert to stage hunting.
Mollema is the wild card as he has a bit of a fluctuating TT record but if today is anything to go by we should expect a strong showing from him. Same goes for the other bigs on the climbing stages so far, Froome, Quintana and Porte. Porte especially has everything to win in this TT. It is his big chance to make up lost time. Froome is of course likely to put more time into Nairo but we may not be looking at big timegaps. The TT might actually give us a more true gauge of what Quintana’s form is really like than the mountain stages so far. If he does well there may actually be some merit to the theories that he simply lacks the explosive capacity to follow attacks. Either way it goes, this TT wil definitely define how the last week is raced since we haven’t seen major timegaps so far.
Pick to Win
I’m going to put a Euro or two on Rohan Dennis repeating his timetrial success from last year. He isn’t as anonymous as his TdF so far would indicate so he is saving up for this day. This could end up being a big day for BMC all around actually.