The Tour de France is hotting up as it heads into the final week with two summit finishes and an uphill time trial for the GC contenders to battle on before the final decisive mountain stage into Morzine.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) has a comfortable lead over his rivals on the race’s second rest day, sitting 1-47 up on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2-45 up on Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and 2-59 on Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
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All of those riders will have to launch some attacks on the yellow jersey if they are to recoup some of their lost time, and the 17th stage to Finhaut Emosson could be just the place to start.
Two category three climbs just serve as a warm up for what is in store in the final 30km, where the riders face the 13km ascent of the Col de la Forclaz, followed immediately by the rise up to the Emosson Dam – a 10.4km climb at 8.4 per cent.
The peloton should be strung out on the final climb, with the GC men looking to limit their time losses ahead of the mountain time trial on stage 18.
Cycling Weekly‘s time trial expert Michael Hutchinson explains in this video that this stage could actually end up being a pretty tight affair between the contenders, with possibly a gap of just 20 seconds separating them all.
The climb isn’t particularly long or particularly tough, with some pretty lenient gradients along the way. But the choice of bike could pay dividends – will the elite climbers prefer to ride a road bike or a time trial bike on the ascent?
Another summit finish comes on stage 19 – a short stage between Albertville and Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. The hors categorie climb of Montée de Bisanne is featuring in the Tour de France for the first time, where we could see the first of the attacks.
If the peloton is together at the foot of the final climb we can expect some fireworks on the short, but sometimes steep, ascent.
The penultimate stage is also 146km long, although it is still subject to some last minute changes. The category one climb of the Col de la Ramaz was scrapped from the Étape du Tour sportive recently because of rockfalls, with its place on the Tour route to be decided the day before the stage.
The Col de Joux Plane is the highlight on this stage, though, with an energy-sapping ascent from Samoëns and a potentially crucial descent down to the finish line in Morzine.
Then comes the traditional final stage, with a sprint finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, where the Tour’s sprinters will look to get one final stage win in what is one of the most iconic finishes in the sport.