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Tour de France 2019 stage 18: Embrun > Valloire 208 km

After today's hilly stage to Gap, the war for the eternal glory commences yet again. The next three stages will provide opportunities for a general classification competitor to land a decisive blow to his rivals. The first battle of three is the 18th stage to Vallorie.



Three big climbs, all of which summits lie over 2000 meters above sea level, must be overcome by the peloton. They will surely pose a greatest challenge to them: Col de Vars, Col d'Izoard and Col du Galibier.




The stage starts in Embrun, which has hosted the Tour 5 times before tomorrow - all of them as the start of the stage, and only 1 visit before the turn of the century. In 2008 the riders started here and rode to Alpe d'Huez, a stage which Carlos Sastre won, all but securing his first and only victory in a Grand Tour. In 2013 Chris Froome won a hilly time trial and in 2015 Edvald Boasson-Hagen won from a breakaway.
As the riders head out of Embrun, the cat 4. Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées (3,9 km at 5,2%) provides a good opportunity for those, who want to try their luck in a breakaway, since this climb starts just 10 km after the start. This climb probably takes its name from the fascinating rock formations, Les Demoiselles Coiffées

Demoiselles Coiffées



After the short descent from the climb, the incline is mostly constant for the next 40-45 kms - a false flat, where it goes slightly uphill constantly, while the peloton passes the intermediate sprint 45 km into the stage...



After riding through Barcelonette and Jausiers, the peloton will approach the cat 1 climb of Col de Vars approx. 75 kms into the stage. Steep and irregular...



...the average gradient of 7,5% only tells part of the story - a third of this 9 km climb has an incline of above 10%, after the riders could catch their breath at a 500 meter flat stretch in the middle of the climb. A climb with a rich history, especially because of its almost annual participation in the Tour in the 50's, recognizable names like Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobet, Charly Gaul and Joot Zoetemelk among others can claim the honor of having reached the summit of Vars first in a given Tour edition. Latest visit was in the Izoard stage in 2017. The very same Col d'Izoard awaits after a 20 km descent and another 20 kms riding in the valley. 14 kilometers at 7,3% just as when it was the last MTF in 2017.



Long and steep, especially steep in the latter half of the climb, it is destined to sap a lot of strength and fortitude out of the riders - as it did the 25 times it has been included in the Tour in different eras and riders whether Gino Bartali in the 50's or Lucien Van Impe in the 70's.



Descending from the summit of Izoard to Briançon, it goes uphill again rather slightly, before whatever there is left of the peloton will be scattered on the 23 km long ascent to the summit of the Galibier, before a long descent to the finish in Valloire...



Latest visit to Galibier was in 2017 and was the climb, in which Primoz Roglic made himself known to a wider audience, when he dropped Alberto Contador there and descended down to the finish in Serre-Chevalier. That is nothing compared to the only time Galibier hosted a finish line, in 2011. That was when Andy Schleck went on a legendary long-range attack on the Col d'Izoard and was at one point 4 minutes in front of the favorites brother Fränk, Evans, Basso, maillot jaune Voeckler, Contador, Cunego and Samuel Sanchez. No one wanted to take responsibility and rein him in, until Evans decided that he didn't want to lose another Tour. Even though Evans' tempo halved the gap, which was 2'15'' when he crossed the line, and later won the race, Andy wrote himself in the history books..



...meanwhile Voeckler managed to get himself another day in yellow, suffering like never before…



...all of which ended with him cracking in the next stage, the also iconic stage to Alpe d'Huez. Will we see Alaphilippe repeat history and manage to hold on to yellow and then crack en route to Tignes? Or will he defy what looks like destiny and exceed expectations to the joy of France? Tomorrow will not decide everything, but ight show us who has the extraordinary spark required to win the Tour, and who is missing that special something…


General classification on before stage 18:

1. Julian ALAPHILIPPE (DQS)
2. Geraint THOMAS (INEOS) + 1'35''
3. Steven KRUIJSWIJK (Jumbo) + 1'47''
4. Thibaut PINOT (FDJ) + 1'50''
5. Egan BERNAL (INEOS) + 2'02''
6. Emanuel BUCHMANN (Bora) + 2'14''
7. Mikel LANDA (Movistar) + 4'54''
8. Alejandro VALVERDE (Movistar) + 5'00''
9. Rigoberto URAN (EF1) + 5'33''
10. Richie PORTE (Trek) + 6'30''

Green jersey competition:

1. Peter SAGAN (Bora) 309
2. Elia VIVIANI (DQS) 224
3. Sonny COLBRELLI (Merida) 203
4. Michael MATTHEWS (Sunweb) 201
5. Caleb EWAN (Lotto) 198

Polka-dot jersey competition:

1. Tim WELLENS (Lotto) 64
2. Thibaut PINOT (FDJ) 50
3. Thomas DE GENDT (Lotto) 37
4. Julian ALAPHILIPPE (DQS) 33
5. Giulio CICCONE (Trek) 30

Youth classification:

1. Egan BERNAL (INEOS)
2. David GAUDU (FDJ) + 13'31''
3. Enric MAS (DQS) + 42'00''

Weather..

..at Col de Vars



...at Col d'Izoard



...at Col du Galibier



...at the finish line in Valloire

 
I kinda fear absolutely nothing will happen unless a gc contender cracks. With two mountain top finishes left and really small time gaps nobody has to take any risks yet. Only hope might be movistar and landa. And possibly an attack by alaphilippe on the final descent.

On another note, Vincenzo Nibali ftw :cool:
 
Gigs_98 said:
I kinda fear absolutely nothing will happen unless a gc contender cracks. With two mountain top finishes left and really small time gaps nobody has to take any risks yet. Only hope might be movistar and landa. And possibly an attack by alaphilippe on the final descent.

On another note, Vincenzo Nibali ftw :cool:
That seems like a completely unrealistic scenario. The stage is way too tough for that.
 
tobydawq said:
Gigs_98 said:
I kinda fear absolutely nothing will happen unless a gc contender cracks. With two mountain top finishes left and really small time gaps nobody has to take any risks yet. Only hope might be movistar and landa. And possibly an attack by alaphilippe on the final descent.

On another note, Vincenzo Nibali ftw :cool:
That seems like a completely unrealistic scenario. The stage is way too tough for that.
Well somebody’s going to crack on a stage like this. The question is, who? And how early? And how much time will they lose?

I think this one’s set up for a long-range Landani, especially when, not if, Movistar infiltrate the break.
 
tobydawq said:
Gigs_98 said:
I kinda fear absolutely nothing will happen unless a gc contender cracks. With two mountain top finishes left and really small time gaps nobody has to take any risks yet. Only hope might be movistar and landa. And possibly an attack by alaphilippe on the final descent.
On another note, Vincenzo Nibali ftw :cool:
The stage is way too tough for that.
Sometimes to tough means no spectacular action.
Like Stelvio in 2017 Giro. It was ridden fast (one of the fastest pass) but all GC contenders were relatively fresh and no one dared to pull harder.
Tomorrow I expect Bernal finaly to push and I believe Crooyshfeek and fibopino will keep the pace with him.
Thomas shape is still is unknown, IMO.
 
Looks like headwind on the Galibier.

If nothing happens on the Izoard it's gonna be incredibly disappointing and it's basically maybe a few km on the Galibier. Izoard is legit the hardest climb left in this race. Let's hope for Landa.

I can see teams trying to drop Alaphilippe on the Izoard just by riding pace.
 
tobydawq said:
Gigs_98 said:
I kinda fear absolutely nothing will happen unless a gc contender cracks. With two mountain top finishes left and really small time gaps nobody has to take any risks yet. Only hope might be movistar and landa. And possibly an attack by alaphilippe on the final descent.

On another note, Vincenzo Nibali ftw :cool:
That seems like a completely unrealistic scenario. The stage is way too tough for that.
The Col de Vars isn't an overly difficult 1st category climb, the Izoard is a big name but not that hard for a HC climb (really it's only the altitude that makes it pretty difficult) and The Galibier is glorified false flat until the Lautaret from which onwards you only have 8.5 kilometers of climbing left (and those aren't very steep either). The two factors which make this stage hard is the altitude and the length, which as I wrote might lead to someone spectacularly cracking. But if nobody cracks I just don't see anyone going for it on 6% gradients with a long descent coming up and two mtf's on the following days. I mean two years ago nobody attacked before the final kilometer of the Galibier when they rode it from it's brutal north side and I think that stage had quite a bit more climbing than this one.
I feel like people look at this profile and just immediately think of the 2011 Galibier stage forgetting that by far hardest climb of that stage (that was btw also the highest point of that stage) is missing.
 
Tomorrow will be crazy, they are likely to find 30°C or more in the valleys and around 20°C even at the top of Galibier with showers and so extremely high humidity, will be like riding at the tropics despite being on the Alps. If someone will try to go hard from the Izoard could be carnage for who suffer in that situation.
 
Re:

Red Rick said:
Looks like headwind on the Galibier.

If nothing happens on the Izoard it's gonna be incredibly disappointing and it's basically maybe a few km on the Galibier. Izoard is legit the hardest climb left in this race. Let's hope for Landa.

I can see teams trying to drop Alaphilippe on the Izoard just by riding pace.
Nah, Val Thorens is harder I think
 
Red Rick and Gigs:

Did you watch the Pyrenean stages? If not, I can tell you that this Tour is not like usual Tours. There is no Ineos train, there is a guy in the lead that the others need to crack and who presumably will have a hard time tomorrow, and six riders think they have a chance of winning the Tour - none of whom seems to be content to wait until a shootout on Val Thorens, and especially Movistar need to go from far out. Further, this stage contains 4300 metres of climbing, it's long, the weather will be hot, we're nearing the end of the Tour, and the altitude will make a difference.

But of course there are two important stages afterwards - I just don't think tomorrow's stage will not deliver. Especially because this is a stage of the 2019 Tour.

And Red Rick: Why the hell can you never show a little enthusiasm when something entertaining happens? You're always negative going into every single race, and when the race satisfies everybody you either zip up or you have some sarcastic comment about a tiny aspect that could have been better. It's really getting old.
 
Re:

tobydawq said:
Red Rick and Gigs:

Did you watch the Pyrenean stages? If not, I can tell you that this Tour is not like usual Tours. There is no Ineos train, there is a guy in the lead that the others need to crack and who presumably will have a hard time tomorrow, and six riders think they have a chance of winning the Tour - none of whom seems to be content to wait until a shootout on Val Thorens, and especially Movistar need to go from far out. Further, this stage contains 4300 metres of climbing, it's long, the weather will be hot, we're nearing the end of the Tour, and the altitude will make a difference.

But of course there are two important stages afterwards - I just don't think tomorrow's stage will not deliver. Especially because this is a stage of the 2019 Tour.
This tour might be good but only one mountain stage so far has delivered good racing. Both the pdbf and the tourmalet weren't ridden very aggressively and those were mountain top finishes. And considering alaphilippe is far and above the best descender among the gc contenders I am unsure whether someone like Pinot or Kruiswijk will think this is the stage to defeat alaphilippe. Red Rick is right though that a team might put the hammer down on the izoard already hoping to put alaphilippe out of contention without risking much
 
Re: Re:

Gigs_98 said:
Red Rick said:
Looks like headwind on the Galibier.

If nothing happens on the Izoard it's gonna be incredibly disappointing and it's basically maybe a few km on the Galibier. Izoard is legit the hardest climb left in this race. Let's hope for Landa.

I can see teams trying to drop Alaphilippe on the Izoard just by riding pace.
Nah, Val Thorens is harder I think
Hmm. The profiles actually look quite different from each other, but now I look at the official one for this Tour I'd say you're right. Do think Izoard isn't exactly easy because the tiny descent takes down the average and because the last like 8km are consistently steep. Think the profile is actually quite similar to Fedaia.
 
Re:

Red Rick said:
Looks like headwind on the Galibier.

If nothing happens on the Izoard it's gonna be incredibly disappointing and it's basically maybe a few km on the Galibier. Izoard is legit the hardest climb left in this race. Let's hope for Landa.

I can see teams trying to drop Alaphilippe on the Izoard just by riding pace.
Headwind is worrying. In 2015 there was a headwind on Plateau de Beille, so a stage that was supposed to be one of the hardest in the Tour ended up with all the GC riders going under the kite together.
 

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