Tour de France 2016, stage 19 description, map and profile: Friday, July 22
When Friday, July 22
To Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc
Impact on GC 5/5
This is a complicated stage laid out in quite a small area. There’s lots of doubling back, and it’s very important that the riders recce this one, so they are familiar with where they are. A mistake or mistimed attack could wreck their Tour, because at 146km this is not a long stage. It will see some aggressive riding.
The Col de Tamié starts in the streets of Albertville. It’s a very narrow road, and after some initial bends the descent is straight and fast. Once through Faverges the riders head north-west towards the Lac d’Annecy, where they follow its right bank to Talloires and the start of the tricky little Col de la Forclaz.
Now the riders will be going south-east. The descent to Vesonne is straightforward, but there is a very steep bit of road just before entering the village. The route then goes down the Chaise valley to Ugine. That’s where the next climbs starts, and it’s another wriggly little road up, but this time it has a wriggly descent too.
There’s just enough time after that for a few deep breaths then it’s the biggest climb of the day, the Montée de Bisanne. In a series of long straights and lazy hairpins the road snakes up to 1,723 metres. Then there’s a short descent to the top of the Col des Saisies and the chocolate box wooden houses at its summit.
The route then follows the north side of the Saisies down to Flumet, and it’s a very fast descent. A right turn and a stretch of steadily rising valley road leads to Megève, and a reverse of Thursday’s time trial stage. Then it’s the last climb, out of Saint Gervais to the ski resort of Le Bettex, on the opposite side of the valley to Mont Blanc, which dominates the skyline for most of this stage.
After the Thursday’s dominant display in the mountain time trial, Chris Froome (Sky) goes into the stage with a lead of nearly four minutes over second-placed Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Although the eventual occupant of the podium’s top step in Paris looks secure, the rest of the top 10 is far from settled.
Riders may deem an attack on Froome to be relatively meaningless given his advantage overall, but they will still have to attack each other to be in with a hope of holding on or moving up to a podium position.
And besides, Froome could still have a technical mishap, crash or very, very bad day and lose the yellow jersey yet. So his rivals may be hoping…