Stage 14 of the 2019 Tour heads back into the mountains for a short course finishing atop the Col du Tourmalet, the highest Pyrenean summit this year. One of the toughest and most famous climbs in Tour history, the Tourmalet has only appeared twice before as a summit finish.
Starting in Tarbes, the stage should see a large breakaway go early, filled with riders hoping to score points in the polka dot jersey competition, place themselves up the road to help their captains in the finale, and, of course, win the stage.
At the top of the second climb, the Category 1 Col du Soulor, we should get an idea as to whether the break will survive. A lot of road runs between there and the bottom the Tourmalet; if the breakaway has any chance of reaching the finish, it will need a large advantage on the Soulor to limit its losses in the valley below.
On the lower slopes of the Tourmalet, a 19K monster that averages 7.4 percent and saves its steepest pitches for the top, we’ll see two races unfold: one for the stage win and one for the yellow jersey, with a good chance that a rider attacks from the GC group and catches whatever’s left of the breakaway just before the finish.
Julian Alaphilippe will have his hands full defending yellow, especially after going so deep to win Stage 13’s individual time trial. Complicated matters is his teammate, Enric Mas, riding a terrific Tour of his own and now sitting in fourth overall.
Mas finished on the podium of last year’s Vuelta a España, currently wears the white jersey as the Tour’s Best Young Rider, and is widely considered one of cycling’s greatest young talents. Alaphilippe will need to follow up the time trial of his life with the climb of his life, and if he begins to struggle, Mas might not wait around to help.
Luckily, Stage 14 is short and fairly straightforward. All Alaphilippe must do is focus on the final climb, saving everything he has for one long, sustained effort. His lead is large enough that if he avoids blowing up entirely, he can get dropped near the summit and still keep the jersey. But that’s easier said than done.
Riders to Watch
Keep an eye on Giulio Ciccone, who spent two days in yellow after finishing second on Stage 6 atop La Planche des Belles Filles. The young Italian won a mountain stage and the King of the Mountains competition at the Giro d’Italia in May, and might want to pull off a similar exploit in France. It’s also a great day for Mikel Landa, who sits far enough down on the General Classification that he might be allowed to escape if he saves his attack for the lower slopes of the Tourmalet.
When to Watch
Stage 14 is all about the Tourmalet, so head out for an early ride, grab some breakfast, and come back to watch around 10:15 a.m. EDT, when the race is expected to hit the base of the climb.
[Related: How to Watch the Tour de France]
You Might Also Like