Wednesday, 2 July 2014

2014 Tour de France Stages 11-16

Stage 11 Besancon - Oyonnax 187.5km

After the rest day the riders have a medium mountain stage on the Swiss border. The first 140 kilometres are flat (ish) with no categorised climbs and the days' intermediate sprint coming at kilometre 89; which is swiftly followed by the feed station. The first climb of the day is 46km from the finish; the Cote de Rogna will most likely drop the riders as the 3rd Category climb is 7.6km long at a gradient of 5%. Instead of a descent, the road flattens out until the slopes of the 3rd Category Cote de Choux, a much shorter (than the previous) climb at a length of 1700m but is steeper with a gradient of 6.5%. After a chance for the sprinters' to rejoin the peloton, the race starts the 4th Category Cote de Désertin; a 3.1km long climb at 5.2%. With a mere 15km to go the sprint the riders' will crest the final climb of the day. The 3km long, 3rd Category Cote d'Echaldon will probably drop all the out and out sprinters with its testing gradient of 6.6km. The descent into Oyonnax will be fast and furious, similar to Stage 3 of the 2013 edition of the race. My Pick for the stage is the winner of Stage 3 in 2013, Aussie Simon Gerrans.

Stage 12 Bourg-En-Bresse - Saint-Étienne 185.5km

Similar to Stage 11, Stage 12 has 4 (minor) Categorised climbs and is just under 190km. However, all of these climbs are spread about the stage, leading for a larger chance of a bunch sprint. If not, then the Sprinters will aim to take maximum green jersey points at the intermediate sprint after 40km. The days' first climb comes after 58km; the fourth cat. Col du Brouily is a short but testing climb of only 1700m in length but has an average gradient of over 5%. The road undulates for roughly 25km. The next climb is the 3rd Category Cote du Saule-d'Oingt which probably easier than it's predecessor as it is 3.8km long and has a gradient of 4.5%. The third climb of the day is the longest of the tour so far at 15.3km; the Cat. 3 Col de Brosses has a gradient of only 3%. The days' final climb - the Cote de Gammond is of a shorter length and a similar gradient and is only a 4th Category KOM. I think the sprinters will just hold onto the coattails of the peloton and I will expect Mark Cavendish to win stage 12.

Stage 13 Saint-Étienne - Chamrousse 198km

Thirteen is unlucky for some, that could be said about the devilishly hard stage 13. The first climb of the day is the 3rd Category Col de la Croix de Montiveux after 24km; the 8km climb is at a steady 4.1% which will probably not drop any riders from the peloton. The race is very flat for the next 100km and will probably be where the break will go. The second climb is the 1st Category Col de Palaquit, a 14km climb at an average gradient of 6%, here is when we will see many riders from the breakaway being caught by the yellow jersey group. After the descent we see the intermediate sprint where no Green jersey (maybe Sagan) contenders will be present. The final climb of the stage is the first Super-Classified Climb of the Tour, the climb upto the ski resort of Chamrousse is 18km long at an average gradient of 7.3%. Here we will see a key battle and could decide in who will be in the Yellow jersey on the Champ-Elysées. My pick for the stage win is for Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp.

Stage 14 Grenoble - Risoul 177km

Stage 14 is another day in the Alps, After the Intermediate sprint after 40km the riders will have to put up with 3 categorised climbs - two first category and one super category.  The first of those is the Col du Lautatret, a first category climb that is 34km long and goes through two departments. The second climb is the Super-Classified, 19km long (at 6%) Col d'Izoard. The first ascender of the climb will receive the Souvenir Henri Desgrange as it is the highest point of the Tour. The final climb of the day ends up, like Stage 13, in a summit finish. The Category 1 climb up to the ski resort at Risoul is just short of 13km in length at an average gradient of around 7%. My pick for the stage is the French rider Pierre Rolland.

Stage 15 Tallard - Nimes 222km

As the riders exit the Alps, they are treated to a nice easy stage. The 222km ride from Tallart to Nimes is generally all downhill. The only point of interest in the first 150km is the feed station at kilometre 105. The intermediate sprint with 47 kilometres to go will be the first time we will see the sprinters teams come to the fore. The days' break should be caught before here but may last longer if there is a reluctancy from the peloton to take up the chase. As the bunch will ride into Nímes, they will have to watch out for the crosswinds. My pick for the stage is for Mark Cavendish and for him to retake the Green jersey.

Stage 16 Carcassone - Bagnéres-de-Luchon 237.5km

Stage 16 is the longest stage of the Tour and it gets harder as it gets longer. The first climb of the day is the 4th Cartegory Côte de Canieaux; a 2.4 kilometre climb with an average gradient of 5%. The second climb of the day is the 4th Category Côte de Parniers almost identical to its predecessor, although the gradient is 5.4%. The real climbing starts after the intermediate sprint at kilometre 124. The first of three larger climbs is the 2nd Category Col de Portet-d' Aspet, 5.4km long with an average gradient of 7%. The middle of the three hard climbs is the 3rd Category Col de Aros, the 6km long climb has an average gradient of 5% and could be a springboard for an attack to catch the malliot jaune off-guard. The final climb of the day is the Super category Port de Belles, the 12km long climb has a gradient of 7.7%, at certain sections of the climb this reaches over 10%. The descent into Bagnéres-de-Luchon will be fast paced and will not suit the Schleck brothers. My pick for the stage is for Rui Costa to win in the Rainbow jersey.

Going into the second rest day I think the leaders of each classification will be as so:

General Classification: Chris Froome (GBR) - Team SKY

Points Classification: Mark Cavendish (GBR) - Omega Pharma - Quick-Step

King of the Mountains: Pierre Rolland (FRA) - Team Europcar

Young Rider Classification: Rafal Majka (POL) - Team Saxo-Tinkoff

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