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Tour Stage 15: Er, What is this, Exactly?

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 Laissac-Sévérac l'Église - Le Puy-en-Velay (189.5 km)

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage Thirteen Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

This is a stage over the Aubrac plateau which is really quite difficult to categorise. It’s a medium mountain stage, I suppose, with a lot of rolling terrain and a downhill finish. Early climbs will send the sprinters out via ejector seat as a breakaway threatens to take the stage, but this is not a sort of stage we’re used to seeing.

Carte

Profil de l’étape

There are four categorised climbs, two being category one, one cat. three and a final fourth category hill towards the end of the stage. There’s a ten kilometre uncategorised hill at four per cent and a good amount of false flat, uphill and down, — this stage is on a plateau after all.

Here’s the final climb. There’s four klicks at six per cent followed by two of around twelve, hitting fourteen. Assuming there’s a little bit of pace in the peloton, that should be enough to cut the peloton down to fewer than twenty riders. There will still be around thirty kilometres to go at the top of the climb, with a gentle descent followed by the cat. four, so there’s a chance that a few riders can get back on for a sprint if necessary.

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day – Cazottes Quince

Okay, not exactly a wine, but super fun. My wine store friend says:
"Authenticity Mercenary" Laurent Cazottes is on a mission - he revived vineyards planted in the 1970s, returned to specific cultivation and distilling techniques traditional to French master practices and set about a life among the orchards and vines in the tiny village of Albi.Using fruit from his organic orchard in the Albi area of Languedoc, Laurent distils eaux-de-vie and liqueurs with an unparalleled elegance and aroma.

Did you know?

Puy lentils! They’re from Le Puy-en-Velay, useless as that fact is unless you’re watching Masterchef or you go to fancier dinner parties than I do. Apparently they’re pepperier and of a different colour to, you know, bog standard lentils that you find everywhere, all because of the certain type of soil in the area. Have your lives been sufficiently improved by that knowledge? Excellent!

What’s at stake?

This stage is going to have a different dynamic than it could have had if today’s stage had gone differently. Froome is back in yellow, so Sky will likely be back to their conservative tactics of tempo-riding on the climbs. I don’t think the climbs are hard enough, and I know they’re too spread out, to facilitate long-range attacks. The terrain towards the finish is not conducive to successful attacks either, so long as the chase is motivated.

Who’s going to win?

I would assume that it has to be a victorious breakaway on this stage — that’s the wisdom for such stages. However, this Tour has not been a plentiful one for attackers, with Calmejane the only true breakaway victor (I’m counting Barguil’s win on Friday as a GC move) and should Sky set a hard pace on the climbs and rolling terrain, a break will find it hard going. If the break goes in the first seventeen kilometres, it will be full of rouleurs for the flattish middle kilometres, but if one cannot get away in that time it will involve light climbers who cannot make up much time there. I’d guess that Roglic, Roche, Calmejane, perhaps Barguil and Simon Clarke could get into the move. I’m going to say they’ll stick it out, and Roche pulls it off.