Geraint Thomas thinks that stage nine into Andorra will be decisive and could be pivotal for the overall classification at the 2016 Tour de France
The race travels over the Col d’Aspin to Lac de Payolle on stage seven, covers the classic Pyrenean stage to Bagnères-de-Luncheon on stage eight and then on stage nine, snakes its way from Spain to Arcalis in Andorra.
Last year on the race’s first high-mountain stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, Chris Froome (Team Sky) took significant gains on his rivals.
“No, I don’t think so,” Thomas explained that the first mountain stage will not be like last year’s. “It’s predominately flat all day, then a little third category and the Aspin. It’s a tough climb, but not too selective.”
Preview: The Tour de France in the Pyrénées
Instead, Thomas said that the stage could suit an escape and that followers could see a selection from the favourites group, but not an all-out classification battle. That day will come on stage eight, and for sure on stage nine, said Thomas.
“Each day progressively gets tougher, the selection will get less and less. For sure, we could see gaps in the Andorra stage. A guy winning on his own and a real indication of who’s going to be fighting for the GC overall then,” Thomas said.
“We previewed the Andorra stage, the last three climbs, when we came back from the Tenerife training camp [in May]. Those three climbs are tough. The last one on its own isn’t super hard, but after the day, and the last week, it will be. I’m sure there be a selection.”
The stage in Andorra climbs the Col de Beixalis and finishes with a 10.1-kilometre climb to Arcalis
Thomas said that he appreciates a slow build up toward the stage in Andorra, especially after his crash on day one.
“For me, it helps a bit because I’m still feeling my ribs a bit. I’m getting better every day,” he continued.
“For Froomey, what ever is good for him. If it is hard like last year, it’d be nice for him to take time. Like I said, every day is getting tougher.”