The Tour de France heads to Foix in what is the shortest of all the road race stages in the 2017 Tour de France. The course is 101km in length, but it is the three category 1 climbs that are ahead of the riders which are set to make the stage possibly the most exciting and dynamic of the Tour this year.
The Col de Latrape, Col d’Agnés and the Mur de Péguère all feature in the stage, and it’s like to be one stage that is over in the blink of an eye. Team Sky head into the stage without the yellow jersey for the first time in the Tour. It means that even if Chris Froome wins the yellow jersey back and makes it all the way to Paris he’s now out of contention to become the first rider since Eddy Merckx back in the early seventies to have the yellow jersey remain in the same team for the duration of the Tour.
I would imagine that Team Sky will come into their element today and really take Fabio Aru to task. The stage is primed for attacking racing over the short course that will put everyone under pressure. But that’s not to rule out other teams from being able to influence the race. AG2R La Mondiale seem to have risen up as the next strongest team, now that we have established that Nairo Quintana – and therefore Movistar – are out of sorts in the fight for the general classification.
Romain Bardet really does look like potentially the next Tour de France champion for France; the first since Bernard Hinault in 1985. He’s climbing very strongly, but presently the fact that the time gaps between himself, Froome and Aru are so small will likely mean trouble for his yellow jersey ambitions in the individual time trial on the penultimate stage of the race. Races against the clock are not Bardet’s forte, and he will have to produce something near miraculous to beat Froome who still has to be considered the favourite; despite faltering in stage 12’s finale.
George Bennett will again come under pressure in stage 13, but he showed us today that his climbing form was far from a fluke. An extra confidence boost came Bennett’s way as he and the rest of the GC contenders again managed to drop Alberto Contador. The top ten overall now have clear daylight to 11th and below. Louis Meintjes in 10th place is 4.51mins down on Fabio Aru – 27 seconds behind Bennett – and 2.23mins ahead of Contador.
I would say that Alberto Contador – with his descending skills – could fare well here, but his climbing has let him down. I still, therefore, think Froome will finally win his first stage of the Tour this year. He still has the mega team and mega descending skills to pair with his climbing.
RoadCycling’s prediction for stage 13 is:
1st: Chris Froome
2nd: Romain Bardet
3rd: Simon Yates
4th: Daniel Martin
5th: George Bennett