|Stage 17 ITT on the map|
The Tour De France classifications have a good chance of getting a shake up on Wednesday’s climbing time trial from Embrun to Chorges. Stage 17 is the final time trial of the race. Unlike the stage-11 TT around Mont Saint-Michel, Wednesday’s stage includes two category-2 climbs. This will favor the GC climbers over the flat time trial artists.
The climbs are not easy ones. Each is over six kilometers long and averages over 6% gradient. Beyond the climbing, the technical descents are also getting extra attention. The riders will need excellent bike-handling skills to get down the hills quickly and safely. They will also have to gauge their efforts carefully and take time where they can, in the areas they each excel at.
Rui Costa showed some good descending skills in his stage-16 win on Tuesday. He has a great shot at a top spot tomorrow. Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans are good on a hilly and technical course. Evans has not been performing at his highest level during the Tour, but he might look at this TT as a potential stage win, and give it his all.
|Stage 17 time trial profile|
Chris Froome is probably going to put even more time into his rivals, but several others could pull off top performances on the course. The most interesting races within the race could be between second and sixth places. All those guys are close on time, and will be fighting for a spot on the podium in Paris. They should all perform well tomorrow.
|The technical and hilly 32-km route|
Regardless of trying to dismantle Froome, every rider in the top ten will be grappling for higher positions—and there is a lot of wiggle room.
Kwiatkowski and Rogers could jump Dan Martin. Kwiatkowski has a good shot to get back into the top ten. I expect Jakob Fuglsang and Jean-Christophe Peraud could jump Joaquim Rodriguez in the standings, but J-Rod will hope to regain any time he loses when they hit Alpe d’Huez on Thursday, and again in the high mountains on Friday, and again on Saturday.
Mick Rogers could do well, but he may or may not be tasked with saving energy for his leader, Contador, in the Alps the next three days. Alejandro Valverde, Maxime Monfort, and Andreas Klöden are others who will like the course.
Speaking of Valverde, Team Movistar could win the team competition for the day with all the climbing/time trialing talent they have. Valverde, Rui Costa, Quintana, Jonathan Castroviejo, and the Costa Rican native, Andrey Amador. Amador has not been in his best form during this Tour, but he is typically capable of a good TT, especially on a hilly course like this.
Looking further down the standings, Thomas De Gendt, Michael Albasini, Ryder Hesjedal, Jerome Coppel, and on a good day, Rein Taaramae, could also hope for good results. Whether Tony Martin will be able to excel on this course is debatable. I have higher hopes than most, but he is certainly not the runaway favorite on this one.
MY PICK: I really like Froome, Contador and Peraud on this course. But I am going to go out on a limb, sort of, and pick Jeremy Roy of FDJ.