- Embrun > Valloire
- Date: 07/25/2019
- Distance: 208 km
- Type: Mountain
Stage 18 will be one of the hardest Tour de France mountain stages (at least on paper) in recent years. With 3 climbs cresting over 2000m (the Col de Vars, Col d’Izoard, and Col du Galibier), and a total distance of 208 km, this stage has all the potential to be a true epic. If it’s not decided already, the final winner in the GC should be forged today in the Alps.
All of the three major climbs have been featured prominently in single stages in the past. The Col de Vars is no cakewalk (it’s 9.3 km averaging 7.5 percent) but will serve as just an appetizer for the next two climbs. Next up is Col d’Izoard, the summit finish where Frenchman Warren Barguil clinched the mountains classification in the 2017 Tour. At 14 km averaging 7.3 percent, it’s not the steepest or longest climb of the day—but after over 130 km of racing, it will certainly feel like every inch of the hors categorie epic that it is.
At 190 km into the race, riders will crest the HC Col du Galibier, a monster of a mountain pass at 23 km, and averaging 5%. This might not seem like too steep a grade, but it tops out at 10% near the summit. Again, considering the racing the riders will have done at this point (and the racing left to do) it will be a career achievement to lead the peloton over this climb. An available time bonus will likely animate the race even more.
After summiting the last climb, riders still must descend 17 km into Valloire. The fast, technical descent will require riders to keep their wits about them; a tall order after a long day. Those who dug too deep on the climbs may find themselves caught here—or may hold off attackers to win a truly massive day.