Wednesday, 23 July 2014
2014 Tour de France: short killer day in Pyrénées
Stage 17: Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet 124.5km
Although, with the exception of the sole time trial, this is the shortest stage (124.5km) it will also be one of the toughest. There are four categorised climbs crammed into the second half with little if any respite between them. The first three climbs are 1st Cat, while the Pla d'Adet is an HC. Being a short stage with a mountain top finish the racing is likely to be fast. I expect further shifts in the overall classification.
The impressive Thibaut Pinot (now wearing the White Jesey for best young rider) will be looking to put more time into those who can time trial better than he, in particular Jean-Christophe Peraud who is just over a minute behind. Pinot would also love to move into second above Alejandro Valverde, who is only 49 seconds ahead and who has looked uncomfortably at the top of the climbs. He was briefly dropped by Pinot yesterday but recovered on the final descent. Today there is no final descent, so any gaps made on the final climb will stick!
Equally Romain Bardet and Tejay Van Gardenen may well try to get back some of the time they lost yesterday – certainly not to lose anymore. I wouldn't be surprised to see Vincenzo Nibali take another stage win today. Should be as exciting as yesterday!