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Tour Stage 19: A Very Long, Very Pointless, Completely Wasted Stage

Embrun - Salon-de-Provence (222.5 km)

Le Tour de France 2014 - Stage Fourteen Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

No hyperbole this time, just frustrated truth. Organising the final Friday of a Grand Tour to be anything but a mountain stage can never make sense, and with the GC as close as it is, surely there must be no small amount of regret held by the race organisers that this stage doesn’t make the very easy detour to Mont Ventoux rather than the topography-lacking Salon-de-Provence.


Profil de l’étape

There’s a couple of cat. threes early on which will probably thin out the break, followed by some rolling roads which might be enough to derail a couple of sprint trains. There won’t be too much wind and there’ll be no rain, so the climbs will be the only real obstacle.

Also, this. Would it be this Tour without a pile of dangerous bends in the last kilometre?

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day – Domaine de la Realtiere Pastel Rose
Christy says: one of my favorites this year and every year! Domaine de la Realtiere is located in Provence, between Jouques and Rians, at an altitude of more than 1300 feet, just across from Mount Saint Victoire. The 20 acres of vineyard are surrounded by an olive grove and pine forests. In 1994 it became the property of Jean Louis Michelland, who began to work the vineyards organically. When Jean Louis died in 2001 while working in the vineyard, his son Pierre took over, following the practices established by his father. While eight different varietals are planted here, the rose is a blend of three, mainly Cinsault and Grenache with just a splash of Syrah.

Did you know?

Mont Ventoux is forty kilometres from the stage finish. Enough said, really.

What’s at stake?

It’s the last stage of the Tour de France available to non-specialists, which has to put pressure on those from less successful teams this Tour to make a go at it, so we can expect a strong breakaway. At the same time, it’s flat enough to give the sprinters a chance at a stage, given how few they’ve had thanks to Kittel.

Who’s going to win?

Michael Matthews has to be the favourite for this stage. He’s the most in-form sprinter left in the race, he’s shown his versatility, I think he’s the most likely of the sprinters to get in the break and he’s not going to get dropped on the climbs. He doesn’t have the top-end speed of Dylan Groenewegen, my second pick for the stage but I think there are more scenarios in which the Australian could win. From a breakaway, look out for Greg Van Avermaet and Jay McCarthy. And remember, there is no reason why this stage shouldn’t be a GC day.