When Friday, July 15
To La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc
Category Individual time trial
Impact on GC 5/5
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The time trial starts on the banks of the River Rhône, and the route goes straight up a climb called La Roche Colombe. It is six kilometres long, and quite steep in places. It will be an awkward ascent on a time trial bike. However, a time trial bike comes into its own at the top, where the riders face 18 kilometres across a flat then gently undulating plateau to the Col du Serre de Tourre.
The route then descends rapidly, with many changes of direction and tight bends, to six kilometres of flat through Vallon-Pont d’Arc. The final five kilometres are uphill though the spectacular Gorge de l’Ardèche to La Caverne du Pont d’Arc.
This is an exacting time trial, testing the time trial skills of pacing, bike handling, aerodynamic positioning and picking the best line through the course. The top performers will also have to be very good climbers and descenders to get the most from this route.
The other striking thing about today’s stage is its beauty. The helicopter shots will be stunning, as the whole stage is run close to, or in, the Ardèche Gorge. Some of the middle section is almost on its edge.
Chris Froome (Sky) goes into the stage as race leader after a bizarre experience on Mont Ventoux. After getting caught up in an incident with a motorcycle and the large crowds, Froome was forced to run part-way up the climb before eventually getting a replacement Sky bike. He’ll be hoping for a far more sedate day – if you can call it that – with an opportunity to stretch out his overall lead in the race.
Outside of the GC fight, expect to see the time trial specialists such as Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Rohan Dennis (BMC) and time trial world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) go for the stage victory.