The peloton’s rolling into the Pyrenees, and it will be a feisty battle for seconds.
The 12th stage in the 2017 Tour de France opens in Pau, and the riders will hit the first big climb after 123 kilometers. That one is the 1st category of the day, with the second coming a few kilometers before the goal line. However, after descending from Col de Peyresourde (hopefully without any injuries), there’s a 2nd category climb leading to the line. There’s also a HC climb between the two category 1 climbs. It will be one hard day.
There are only two summit finishes left this year, and this is one of them. As uphill finishes is the overall leader Christopher Froome’s strength, this is the stage he can gain valuable seconds.
His biggest rival, Richie Porte, crashed and abandoned the race on stage 9. Another, Jakob Fuglsang, damaged his arm on the flat stage on Wednesday. Fuglsang’s team mate, Fabio Aru, looked good up to La Planche des Belles Filles, but didn’t have that same gear up Mont du Chat on stage 9. Dan Martin hurt himself on the descent from the same summit. Alberto Contador isn’t his old self, and the same can be said for Nairo Quintana. Another Colombian, Rigoberto Uran, and the French hope, Romain Bardet, looks to be Froome’s biggest competition right now. However, he already has a 51 second gap down to Bardet and Uran, which means that the Brit possibly could decide the Tour already tomorrow.
But the thing with these stages is that even if Froome beats his competition, he doesn’t necessarily win the stage. This looks to me like a day where a big break-away can get a huge gap, and there will be two battles to watch. In other words, an incredibly difficult stage to bet on. But I will lay out some favorites anyway:
Duh. Even though the Brit let Fabio Aru go on the early mountain stage, he didn’t show any weaknesses up Mont du Chat (except the mechanical issue that Aru tried to exploit). He’s a great finisher uphill, and there’s not many of those left in this years Tour de France. Froome got to attack. If they lead the pack, he’ll most likely win the stage.
The young Frenchman has the grit to attack on the downhill, and then finish it off on the last category 2 climb up to Peyragudes. He’s a good option for tomorrow’s stage.
The Colombian has surprised everyone this year, and holds the 4th place in the general classification after 11 stages. He won the sprint in Chambery, and is a very good climber. This is a stage that fits him much better than the one he actually won.
We gotta mention him, as he won the first summit finish in this Tour de France. However, if Mont du Chat would’ve been a little higher, I don’t think he would’ve followed the other GC riders. Maybe he looks better on this stage, but I have my doubts.
How limited is he from the crash? I really don’t know, but if the Irish is fit, we know what kind of finishes he can do. If Froome, or any of the other candidates, are chasing a stage win, they know they have to distance Martin before the line.
Will be looking to get some more points on the polkadot jersey, and should end up in the break. He’s a good finisher, and is most definitely eager to get revenge for the 10 centimeter loss to Uran on Sunday.
Pinot didn’t get as many points in the climber classification on stage 9, but will probably try again here. He might give up if he sees Barguil in the same break, and go for the stage win instead.
A wild card for the win. His captain, Richie Porte, is out of the race, and it’s every man for himself in BMC for the rest of the Tour. Roche showed promising signs to Station des Rousses, and is a reliable climber. Must get in a break for it to happen.
Johan Esteban Chaves
He was supposed to fight for a top 10 result, but the Colombian is now 33 minutes behind Chris Froome. When that happens for riders like him, they usually bounce back with a strong stage in a break-away. Chaves in the break is obviously a potential winner.
Thomas de Gendt
We haven’t seen much of De Gendt yet, but the Belgian always shows up eventually. In 2016 he won the stage to Mont Ventoux. He wants to get in the break-away, and I can almost guarantee he will be there on this stage. He’s a better climber than most, so he is one of the names to look for.
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