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Tour de France Stage 16 Preview
PAS DE LA CASA–SAINT-GAUDENS
Tuesday, July 13
Pyrénées III: Downhills decisive?
There’s plenty of climbing—but even more descending—on this third Pyrenean stage. It starts with a 19-kilometer neutralized descent from 2,400 to 1,000 meters in elevation…and continues downhill until the day’s first climb begins 40 kilometers later. The stage offers the last true opportunity for the breakaway specialists to win a stage. The Port, Core and Portet-d’Aspet passes are not too difficult, while the team leaders will likely be saving themselves for the two big summit finishes in the upcoming days. With 30 kilometers to go, the Portet d’Aspet descent is brutally steep (this is where Fabio Casartelli’s fatal crash happened in 1995) and there’s another downhill ending 5 kilometers from the finish—which is on the old Comminges motor-racing circuit at the top of a 500-meter-long climb that averages close to 7 percent. This is a stage that could favor one of the Belgian veterans Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert or Thomas De Gendt—unless a sprinter such as Sonny Colbrelli gets into the break.
After a 2km descent, 4.5km on flat roads and 500-meter-long climb to the finish at the former motor-racing circuit in Saint-Gaudens, at the end of a 100m straight on the 18 feet wide Avenue René-Dreyfus.
SCHEDULE (all times EDT)
Ceremonial start, Avinguda del Conseil General, Pas de la Casa, 7:05 a.m.; start on N20 (after 19.1km neutral, all downhill, to km0), 7:30 a.m.; Ax-les-Themes (159.6km to go), 8:15 a.m.; Tarascon-sur-Ariège (sprint, 124.4km to go), 8:21 a.m.; Col de Port (Cat. 2, 115km to go), 8:51 a.m.; Vic d’Oust (sprint, 84.3km to go), 9:29 a.m.; Col de la Core (Cat. 1, 67.9km to go), 10:03 a.m.; Col de Portet d’Aspet (Cat. 2, 32.5km to go), 10:57 a.m.; Côte d’Aspret-Sarrat (Cat. 4, 7km to go), 11:25 a.m.; Saint-Gaudens (finish, 169km), 11:34 a.m.
Analysis by Thierry Gouvenou and John Wilcockson.