Stage 14: Montélimar - Villars les Dombes/Parc des Oiseaux 208.5 km
Can you say “transition stage” anyone?
What's It About?
Were coming really close to the Alps but still stay well clear of any serious climbing. The riders will be grateful for it in light of what is to come. The race speeds straight north up the Rhone valley to bring us to the Juras and then Switzerland.
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: Bruno Debize Apinost
From the importer, Seleciton Massale: Apinost is a parcel right outside the house. It's a 50 year old vineyard with about 3% of Pinot noir in it, and it was vinified to be the exact opposite of a Carbonic Maceration. 20 days cuvaison, no pumpuvers but a few punchdowns, fermentation without temperature control between 20 and 30 degrees celsius."
Food: Nougat de Montélimar From wikipedia: The story of the Nougat de Montélimar started in the 18th century. Its ingredients date back two years before that. Olivier de Serres was an agronomist living in the Ardeches). He succeeded in planting almond trees in order to produce nougat. He then used those almonds to replace the walnuts commonly used in Nougat. The Nougat de Montélimar is composed of almonds, honey, and a light mousse of egg whites. The latter lightens the dough and gives it the traditional whitish color of the Nougat. Customarily, the nougat was baked at home, not by skilled nougat makers (named Nougatiers in French).
The day will likely not be very restful as there isn’t much flat. Easiest part is the last 50 kms and the finale should make for great chances for the sprinters. After the debacle in Montpellier you have to think the sprinters teams won’t let this one go even though this is typically the kind of day you would expect to be for the breakaway. With Cav hogging the stage wins you have to think Lotto and Etixx for example need to keep this race together.
Riders to Watch
All the sprinters except Cav because he’s had enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if the nutcase Sagan goes in the break again, to take the intermediate points if nothing else. Presumably the break should be eagerly contested since it really is a stage that could go either way. With the right composition the impetus to chase may be broken even if what I said about sprinters above is true. So expect an insane first hour (which we won’t see of course) and a very interesting mid-part of the stage as we learn if there is enough cooperation in the peloton to keep the break in check.
All the sprinters are still in this race really with the exception of Trek’s Edward Theuns who crashed in the timetrial. What shape they are in is another matter but they all had half a restday in the TT so they should all be good to go. The stage does have a little more climbing than Kittel would like but I wonder how much it really affects him seeing as the climbs are quite far from the finish? I think if the race does come together he will be there along with the others. Greipel tried his sprint on the Ventoux and I’m not sure if I should read that as a sign that he has given up on the sprints or that his form is excellent? I’m guessing the latter because Lotto have too much invested in him to just let him give up when there are chances still in the race.
Pick to Win
Alexander Kristoff. The guy tends to get better and better as others tire. And Katusha could really need him to step up here.