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Tour Stage 13: Short but Sweet

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Saint-Girons – Foix, 101km

The 2012 ascent of the Mur de Peguere
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After Thursday’s 214km, 5 hour 50 minute slog, there are just 101km on the cards for stage 13 on Bastille Day, as ASO again look for the excitement that we’ve had from short mountain stages in recent Grand Tours. Unfortunately, there’s a long old descent from the day’s final climb, and it is all too easy to imagine this being a little muted.

Carte

Profil de l’étape

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day – Fabien Jouves Mas del Perie Les Escures Cahors 2014

Cahors is the historic home of the Malbec grape and the limestone hillsides along the Lot river provide the perfect undergirding to the exuberant dark fruit this grape gives.

Deep red fruit and smoke.

Did you know?

You might remember the Mur de Peguere from the 2012 Tour. It was the first time it featured in the Tour, and it was where the carpet tacks were thrown on the road. 30 riders punctured and despite a Pierre Rolland attempt to attack at that point, Sir Bradley Wiggins (plain old Brad in those days) neutralised the peloton. Sandy Casar picked up the KoM points that day but the stage was taken by Luis Leon Sanchez after the descent into Foix, with the main field some way back. Easy to imagine a similar set of results this year, though hopefully without the carpet tacks.

What’s at stake?

Basically, we’re running out of mountain stages in which we’ll see separation between the GC guys. There are a couple in the Alps, but this canter over three category one climbs is the last part of our Pyrenean swing and the ante-penultimate climbing day. The problem, of course, is that the parcours isn’t conducive to dropping riders. The latter part of Mur de Peguere does live up to the name, but there are 27km of mostly gentle descent to the finish.

However, with the bunching at the top of the GC, even tiny gaps will be valuable and attacks could come at any point up to and including the final km. This is going to be a fast and furious ride, and there will be some tired legs after Thursday’s stage. Even outside of the top three, anyone getting dropped on the Col d’Agnes can expect to lose time in minutes, not seconds, so some big changes lower in the GC top ten are possible.

Points for the KoM are available, but not as many as we’ve seen on the three previous hilly stages, and Barguil is unlikely to be too concerned about maintaining his lead. This feels like a stage where we can expect a good break to fight it out among themselves with the GC boys in behind, as there are plenty of teams with unfulfilled hopes and dreams here looking for stage glory.

Who’s going to win?

Picking the winner of a breakaway mountain stage is an amusing task, assuming you’re accustomed to failing gracefully. Of course, the sensible thing is to pick a Frenchman, given the additional patriotic push of Bastille Day. Instead, I’ll take Nicolas Roche to win this one; he’s climbing well and BMC are most definitely in need of rescuing something from a difficult few weeks. His name sounds French, which is as good as it has been on this day of days for the home riders since David Moncoutie back in 2005.