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After a tentative beginning in the Alps with just one climb yesterday, today’s stage 14 is sprinkled with climbs and all bar one are either category one while the final climb is classed as HC, the highest category. While Tadej Pogačar refused to attack but only nipped some seconds off Vingegaard’s lead, today may be decisive.
The timid attacks by Pogačar are indicative that his form does not allow him to have a go, while Vingegaard’s hesitance likewise seems to say “I’d better wait and see”. This has so far guaranteed that the suspense is high and the spectators are on their toes.
Stage 13: Preview and Map
The course goes from Annemasse to Morzine les Portes du Soleil and covers 152 kilometres. The climbing begins right from the start. This is only the second time, the Tour starts in this little border town, yet is no unknown territory for cycling with the Critérium du Dauphiné stopping over several times.
Morzine on the other hand, has been a regular feature of the Tour – in total 22 times so far. In 2016 Ion Izagirre has won the stage here; over the decades, Morzine has proven to be a good place for Colombian stage wins.
The day’s first climb is the Col de Saxel, a category 3 ascent with a length of 4,2 kilometres at 4,6%. This is followed by Col de Cou (7 km @7,4%) and the Col du Feu which out over 5,8 kilometres and climbs at an average 7,8%.
Interestingly, the intermediate sprint has been placed on top of another Col, the Col de Jambaz and comes after the three first-categorised mountains. This will not be the day of any sprinter today. They will be happy if they get over each of these mountains unscathed and not too much time deficit.
Each climb means a descent. The one from the Col de Jambaz is long as is the following ascent up to the Col de la Ramaz, the penultimate of the day with 13,9 kilometres in length and a gradient of 7,1% on average. This was all prelude as the Col de Joux Plane awaits, an HC climb with 11,6 kilometres uphill at 8,5%.
The finish is a long descent of 12 kilometres a terrain for riders keen on going downhill at breakneck speed. However, it is not an easy descent and requires technique to go down safely.
This stage offers excellent options from a tactical point of view – for those eyeing the stage win, those who want to get into the Top Ten of the general classification, and even for the top two riders, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar.
This stage has written breakaway written all over it. Yet, as we have seen over the last few days, this has been somewhat difficult to establish with groups going away but being caught again. The profile of today sees an early climb, therefore the speed may not be as high as it has been which increases the chances of those trying to get away from the bunch.
Will there be a late attack by Pogačar like yesterday, slowly eating away at the lead of Vingegaard? Or will either of these drop the gauntlet and have a go?
The standings after stage 13
General Classification Standings
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma): 53:48:50
2. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): + 09 second
3. Jai Hindley (Bora–Hansgrohe): + 2min 51sec
4. Carlos Rodríguez (INEOS Grenadiers): + 4min 48sec
5. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates): +5min 03sec
In the King of the Mountains ranking, Neilson Powless still holds the lead.
1. Neilson Powless 46 pts
2. Tadej Pogačar 31 pts
3. Tobias Johannessen 30 pts
4. Michal Kwiatkowski 30 pts
5. Felix Gall 28 pts
Once more, a shake-up of these standings is expected at the of the day. To what extent is to be seen.
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