Tour de France 2018

Stage 17 Overview

Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stage Summary

Covering just 65 km between Bagnères-de-Luchon and Saint-Lary-Soulan, stage 17 is the shortest normal (non time-trial) stage in 30 years. Consisting of two C1 climbs, and culminating a brand-new 16 km HC summit finish, the elevation profile resembles a saw blade—and will probably feel like one to riders caught off form. It could also prove particularly difficult to sprinters, who will have to stay closer than usual to the main group to avoid being cut for time.

 

After much hype and speculation about the gridded start format of the 65km stage 17, the race got off to a surprisingly sedate start (if you can call an immediate C1 climb sedate). With riders lined up according to standings, the idea was supposedly to isolate the GC contenders from their teams with an immediate and tantalizing summit to battle over. But with 16 days of racing under their belts, there were perhaps less fireworks from the riders than the organizers had hoped for. After peloton rolled out, teams organized themselves quickly, and stage 17 began to look like just another brutal day in the mountains.

 

Nairo Quintana of Movistar won the day with a stellar ride on the misty Col du Portet. Dan Martin had launched the attack, but couldn’t hold off the Colombian and took second.  The day’s biggest winner was Geraint Thomas, who crossed the line in third, nearly a minute ahead of Chris Froome. The rare moment of weakness from the defending champion could mean his teammate will wear yellow all the way to Paris. Tom Dumoulin will also be pleased, having edged Froome off the second step of the podium for now.

 

BBS Map BBS Map

Stage Analysis From Best Bike Split

When the 2018 tour route was announced this stage got quite a bit of attention. At only 65 km it’s an attempt by race organizers to add some real excitement to the final week. If the GC is close at this point it could be full charge from the start, and the benefit of a strong support team could be minimized compared to teams with multiple GC options.

 

Climbing specialists will be eyeing points and battling GC riders for the stage win on the new-to-the-tour summit of Saint Lary Soulan Col Du Portet. The stage features relentless climbing and tough technical descents. A few breaks could form, but if the GC battle is on it should come down to the final climb.

 

The 16 km climb to the summit will be one of the most difficult of the 2018 tour—if not the most difficult. With several sections featuring 10 to 12 percent gradients and a big kick up to the finish, the attacks should be on in full force. These will favor the smallest of riders, who can attack and sustain. While some favorites might wait till the last kilometer to attack, a winning move may come with 4km to go where the grade jumps to 12 percent. If a rider can get some separation here and maintain position along with a final max effort, he will be celebrating a new iconic stage at the tour.

Click on the predictive race plan below to see how key factors might affect the results from this stage.

BBS Analysis Tool

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