Today’s stage: Carcassonne-Foix (178.5 kilometers)
After a Dantesque alpine passage, the Tour de France enters the Pyrenees massif on Tuesday 19 July. The day after a well-deserved day of rest in the stifling heat of Carcassonne, the platoon must cover 178.5 kilometers between the medieval city and Foix (Ariège), during the 16e stage of this 109e edition.
The first of the three Pyrenean days is not the most complicated to negotiate. However, after the port of Lers (1D category, 11.4 kilometers at 7%), the very steep wall of Péguère should not be overlooked (9.3 kilometers at 7.9%). Its summit, located 27 kilometers from the finish, should allow the race to settle for the stage victory and, who knows, for the general classification. The last three kilometers of this climb ranked in 1D category rises to more than 11% on average with passages of 18% and 16%.
“Downhill talent will not be too much to dive to the prefecture of Ariège for about twenty kilometers”warns Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.
Time does not wait. It even presses, for Damià Caruso and Victorious Bahrain. The Bahrain team, most illustrated in the News column – the team was the subject of several searches in the days before the start in Copenhagen – has not yet unlocked its victory counter in this edition of the Big Loop. Classified 20e place, 44 min 45 s from the yellow jersey, the Italian rider, second in the Giro 2021 edition, who has already won on the roads of Italy and Spain, is one of the strong men the peloton could leave behind. ‘ to escape.
Author of his best performance for several years during the 12the stage to the arrival of the Alpe de Huez (3e), Christopher Froome recovered during the first two weeks of the Tour. A small rebirth, more than three years after his serious fall on the sidelines of the Critérium du Dauphiné (fractures of the femur, elbow and ribs). For a longer lasting return? “I will keep trying to improve and hope to be able to start again”he dropped the 37-year-old Briton as soon as he got off his bike on Thursday 14 July.
“It’s not like the Pogacar is calling me and we’re going to make a plan tonight, but we’ll see on the road if the situation arises.”
Geraint Thomas has the sense of formula. Asked during the traditional press conference on the day of rest by a Danish journalist about a possible alliance with the Slovenian to overthrow the Danish Jonas Vingegaard, the Welshman of the Ineos Grenadiers, current 3.e in general, he did not completely rule out the hypothesis: “It’s not revenge against Jonas or Jumbo, it’s a cycle race, and if the situation suits us both, we will work together. »
On the road to Foix on Tuesday, the peloton is not sure how long it will have to face. Another heat wave, until the asphalt melts? A series of showers that turn the road into a dangerous skating rink? In both cases the ideal refuge seems to have been found: the cave of Niaux, a prehistoric treasure of the Ariège, located at kilometer 103 of this 16.e stage.
Lakes (underground), works (rock art) and a light breeze typical of large caves: the Niaux cave combines the advantages of a maritime station and a museum, places among the most popular in case of high temperatures. And, as the masses are far from saying about the outcome of this Tour, there would be nothing grotesque about the most ambitious runners dismounting and advancing to “Cathedral”the largest room in the crypt, where it is said that the most cherished wishes can come true.
In the retro
Sandy and Luis Leon … They were the adventurous couple of the years 2000 and 2010. When Sandy Casar escaped, Luis Leon Sanchez was never far away. “It’s simple, I was no longer trying to escape, he was content to follow me”he even entrusted the French to the magazine Pedal.
A profitable strategy. Casar had the ability to hear good shots and Sanchez to close them. As during the 14the stage of the Tour 2012 between Limoux (Aude) and Foix. In the terrible ascent of the wall of Péguère, the Spaniard blew up the leading group. There are still customers like Philippe Gilbert, the very young Peter Sagan, Gorka Izagirre and … Sandy Casar. It is done with lightning 11 kilometers from the finish.
In the descent of Péguère, the riders of the platoon, they, do not stop dying. The reason: we put keys on the road. The culprit will never be confused and the Croatian Robert Kiserlovski will leave a collarbone, hit by the American Levi Leipheimer, victim of a stab.
The broom wagon
If we were to summarize our life on the Tour, it would seem that they are also found. Encounters with former cyclists as well. It is meeting Kévin Réza at the exit of a pizzeria in Metz and talking for a moment about his work as a Leclerc driver in the race. It also means being at the same table as Ian Boswell (ex-Sky) in Morzine (Haute-Savoie) and talking about our young parent nights. It’s greeting Charly Mottet one morning in the starting village, remembering her Charly Mottet T-shirt, her class on the bike, the Tour she had on her legs, of course.
It’s thinking of Luis Leon Sanchez when you come across the always slender silhouette of Sandy Casar. It is to recognize Pascal Lino, now a pilot of the ASO and remember that in 1992 we returned from the summer camp wondering if he would still go with the yellow shirt. It’s like going into a bookstore in Carcassonne and meeting Bernard Thévenet in the middle of a signing session, always ready to share the same memories. Think he will still be there next July, like everyone else probably. Because the Tour, when you taste it, is a good idea to make your holiday in August.
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