Touching The Ceiling – Le Tour Stage 14

Today’s run from Grenoble to Risoul comprises two Cat 1 climbs and an HC in the shape of this year’s highest point the Col d’Izoard. Nibali’s increasing stranglehold upon the yellow jersey has certainly diminished the excitement for today somewhat; but there is still plant to fight for for those with polka dots in their eyes.

Testing Times

Testing Times

A Terrible Trio:
First climb of the day is Col du Lautaret which will begin sapping legs as it’s gentle 3.9% gradient stretches on for 34km. Expect a gentle pace as the peloton saves itself for what will follow after the descent.

Col d’Izoard has long since secured its place as a legendary climb of Le Tour de France and will begin to knock a few riders’ out the back as usual. However, it is not a ruthless climb with a modest average of 6% over its 19km – peaking at 8.9% and offers a few opportunities of relief before staying constant for the last 7km. The pack should stay at an even tempo will conquering the HC climb, but expect fireworks from the inventible breakaway as crossing the summit first could have a big impact upon the fight for the Polka Dot jersey.

The approach to the finish is via Montée de Risoul and is expected to be the scene of the day’s stage winning attack as the 12.6km climb offers a neat launchpad for those wishing to make a move. An average of 6.9% may not seem a particularly selective climb, but two ramps in excess of 8% in the last 2km, may just be enough for a rider to inflict the necessary damage to take the stage win in Risoul.

Keep An Eye Out For:
Those likely to cause a stir over the course of Stage 14 are able to be split into two separate camps in terms of motives on the day; those with the stage win in mind & those vying for the polka dots.

Those of the former group may include riders who have performed well in the mountains but are still bereft of a win. So Leopold Konig, Thibaut Pinot, Nicolas Roche, Rafal Majka and Rein Taaramae may all have to gamble on getting in the break vs hiding in the bunch in order to contest the finish. We are still waiting to witness Sky’s new approach since Froome had to abandon the race in the opening week, so perhaps Mikel Nieve or Geraint Thomas may be targeting today for the victory.

The second potential contenders today will be fighting for the key King of The Mountains points offered by the day’s big climbs. Whether he feels like it or not, Joaquim Rodriguez has to follow any  threats to his spotty crown up the road if he still wishes to be wearing it by Paris. Alessandro De Marchi seems to love a doomed breakaway and is not an outrageous amount of points behind the KOM leader either. AG2R may consider sending Blel Kadri or Jean-Christophe Peraud up the road for some valuable advertising time in the breakaway too. If Rein Taaramae does not make it into any key moves, then perhaps Nicolas Edet may relight his ambition for the King of The Mountains jersey before it becomes too late.

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