Col de Sarenne: 'dangerous' Tour de France stage to go ahead as planned

Tour de France 2013 in association with Castelli Cafe

The Tour de France enters history celebrating its 100th edition with two ascents of the Alpe d'Huez today. To do that, organiser ASO takes the race over the Col de Sarenne - which features a descent that worries some.

Rain showers moved in the Haute-Alpes this yesterday evening and made a potentially dangerous downhill worse. Rumours spread in the afternoon that the organiser would nix the Sarenne's debut from the Tour and take the peloton up the Alpe d'Huez only once.

"I think it would be sad not to do the planned parcours with two times up Alpe d'Huez, [it is] something special that goes with 100th edition of the Tour de France, but safety definitely comes first," race leader, Chris Froome (Sky) said in a press conference yesterday.

"If it is raining I would hope the race organisers take a decision to only race [Alpe d'Huez] the first time. The safety of the riders has to come first."

Froome sits first overall by 4-34 minutes over Alberto Contador and 4-51 over Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff team-mate, Roman Kreuziger.

His rivals, who showed willingness to risk their safety on the final descent in stage 16 on Tuesday, hope the organiser does not take away opportunities.

"He should use his brakes more if he's afraid on the descents," Saxo-Tinkoff manager, Bjarne Riis said of Froome.

"We are going to attack everywhere, whether it is going uphill or downhill."

ASO resurfaced part of the road and asphalted the gravel sections of the Col de Sarenne earlier this year. The road climbs five kilometres and descends for about 26 before reaching rolling sections and the valley at the foot of Alpe d'Huez. Some sections feature long drops off the road's shoulders with only rocks to act as a natural barrier.

In June, Froome, Contador and many others tested it in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Time trial world champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) criticised the road's condition at the time.

"It's a quite nasty and really dangerous descent," Martin told Cycling Weekly this week.

He added that going slow would be hard. "You'll always have some riders who don't just make a race uphill, but also make it downhill."

The decision to push the limits and race at full speed will remain in the riders' hands. As of last night, the stage would continue as planned: 172.5 kilometres with the Alpe d'Huez twice and the Sarenne between.

"There's a zero chance of us shortening the stage," the Tour's event director, Jean-François Pescheux said in the media mixed zone. "I don't know where the rumours have come from."

Tour de France 2013: Stage reports

Stage 17: Froome wins third 2013 Tour stage

Stage 16: Costa takes solo win as Froome put under pressure

Stage 15: Froome wins on Mont Ventoux to extend lead

Stage 14: Trentin wins from break

Stage 13: Cavendish wins, Valverde loses on stage 13

Stage 12: Kittel out-sprints Cavendish

Stage 11: Martin wins time trial as Froome extends lead

Stage 10: Kittel takes second stage win

Stage nine: Martin wins stage as Froome fights to keep lead

Stage eight: Froome wins Tour mountains stage to take overall lead

Stage seven: Sagan scores first win of 2013 Tour

Stage six: Greipel wins as Impey moves into lead

Stage five: Cavendish wins; Gerrans keeps lead

Stage four: Orica win Tour's team time trial to put Gerrans in yellow

Stage three: Gerrans outpaces Sagan to take win

Stage two: Millar denied yellow as Bakelants takes spoils

Stage one: Kittel wins chaotic opening stage

Tour de France 2013: Podcasts

Podcast 12 (stage 15)

Podcast 11 (Stage 14)

Podcast 10 (stage 13)

Podcast nine (stage 12)

Pedcast eight (stage 11)

Podcast seven (stage 10)

Podcast six (stage nine)

Podcast five (stage eight)

Podcast four (stage six)

Podcast three (stage five)

Podcast two (stage four)

Podcast one (stage one)

Tour de France 2013: Comment, analysis, blogs

Moto blog part two (July 15)

Moto blog part one (July 9)

Lessons learnt by Team Sky after Tour visits Pyrenees

Was Sunday (stage nine) a missed opportunity for Froome's rivals?

Rest day review (July 8)

Tour de France: 100 Tours, 1,000 stories

Tour de France 2013: Photo galleries

Stage 17 by Graham Watson

Stage 16 by Graham Watson

Stage 15 by Graham Watson

Stage 14 by Graham Watson

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Andy Jones

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Andy Jones

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Andy Jones

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Andy Jones

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Andy Jones

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Andy Jones

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Graham Watson

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