After the beast of Stage 15 and the second rest day, riders are sure to have weary legs, so race organizers have been “kind” and given the riders a shorter, medium mountain stage for Tuesday.
Stage 16 of the 2013 Tour de France runs 168kms from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap.
While Sky’s Chris Froome has a significant lead in the overall GC, as this Tour has taught us, things can change in the blink of an eye.
Stage 16 is very bumpy, though certainly not as difficult as Ventoux. On paper, it’s probably a stage where a break away containing teammates of GC men will go up the road early. Then, through the day, these riders will rendezvous with their leaders and help pace them as best as they can.
This tactic will probably also be used Thursday-Saturday. Which does put some difficulty on Sky with having only 7 riders left in the race. Teams like Saxo, Movistar, and Belkin, however, could use this method to their full advantage.
Stage 16 has three climbs in store for the riders:
• Km 17.5 – Côte de la Montagne de Bluye5.7 kilometre-long climb at 5.6% – category 3
• Km 48.0 – Col de Macuègne (1 068 m)7.6 kilometre-long climb at 5.2% – category 2
• Km 156.5 – Col de Manse (1 268 m)9.5 kilometre-long climb at 5.2% – category 2
The intermediate sprint occurs at 123kms in Veynes. Sagan may well go out to contest these points, but he has such a significant lead in the green jersey competition, perhaps one of his Cannondale teammates can ride defensively in a break for him so he can save his energy for a later opportunity.
Ultimately, I feel this is the last true day for the break-away artists to have their fun in this year’s Tour. GC guys should save themselves for the TT tomorrow. But, who knows…the Manse has been the scene of many battles before! And the descent into Gap could be the ultimate playground for those taking risks.