The 186,5 kilometer long stage 18 of the Tour de France 2015 starts in Gap and ends in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, being the 2nd of 4 consecutive mountain stages in the Alps. As the stage starts with riding up the 6.3 kilometer incline up to the cat. 2 Col Bayard (6,3 km á 7%), and sprinters will have a really difficult day today, starting with kilometers uphill steepest before the end. With probably many wanting to be in a breakaway (due to KOM points, time on TV, stage win etc.), the speed will be high from the start.
After the Col Bayard, the road goes downhill and it goes up and down with cat. 3 mountain sprints on Rampe du Motty (2,3 km á 8,3%), côte de La Mure (2,7 km á 7,5%), Col de Malissol (2 km á 8,7%), all short hills not very steep.
All these cat. 3 sprints is concluded with a category 2 climb, the Col de la Morte, being fairly similar with the already ridden cat. 3 mountains, being 3,1 kilometers long with an incline of 8,4%. That mountain sprint in an altitude of 1368 meters, and a 15 km descent follows to Séchilliene, 1 kilometer lower (altitude of Séchilienne). At this point 100 kilometers have been ridden, over half of the stage. A points sprint a few kilometes after Séchilienne, which will most likely be contested by a breakaway, lies in Rioupéroux. The first real obstacle for the GC contenders will be the Col du Glandon, 21,7 kilometers long with an incline of 5,1%. Doesn’t seem like much, but looking at the profile of the climb, will give you another picture.
Col du Glandon has been raced 13 times in the Tour de France prior tomorrow. The first to cross this mountain was the Polish rider Edward Klabinski in the 1947 Tour de France, but when the Tour was finished, he was 34th (53 finished the race), 4 hours, 6 minutes and 36 seconds behind the Tour winner Jean Robic. In other editions Col du Glandon has featured in, the 6-time winner of the KOM competition and winner of the 1976 edition, Lucien van Impe has crossed over as the first, so has the 7-times KOM jersey winner Richard Virenque in the nineties. A 19 kilometer long descent follows, and as a last bump on the road, we got the Lacets de Montvernier approximately 15 kms before the finish line in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne (profile below), before the road goes down and flattens out in the end.
Will this be another day for the break? Will Contador try to make up for todays catastrophe? Will Froome show any signs of weakness? Will Quintana manage to break Froome? The answers will be clear in 24 hours time..
Top 10 GC standings before the stage:
2. Quintana + 3’10
3. Valverde + 4’09
4. Thomas + 6’34
5. Contador + 6’40
6. Gesink + 7’39
7. Nibali + 8’04
8. Frank + 8’47
9. Mollema + 11’47
10. Barguil +13’08
Top 5 KOM competition before the stage:
1. Froome 61
2. Rodriguez 52
3. Fuglsang 41
4. Richie Porte 40
5. Pauwels 40
Enjoy this short video I found of the Glandon:
EDIT number 1000: sir fly posted this nice video in this thread showing the Lacets de Montvernier, and credit to him for finding it!
Someone asked about the weather, and here's some weather forecasts for Col du Glandon tomorrow: