Beginning in Pont du Gard, Stage 17 of the 2019 Tour heads northeast, climbing its way toward the town of Gap at the foot of the high Alps. The stage should start fast, and since this could be the last chance for a non-GC rider to win from a breakaway, the competition to join the lead group will be fierce.
The day opens gently but soon begins its long, slow ascent toward the Alps, with the Intermediate Sprint coming just before the road really starts to grind. After passing to the north of Mont Ventoux, riders will hit the first of two categorized climbs, the Category 4 Côte de la Rochette-du-Buis. This marks the approximate midway point and where the profile levels out, rolling its way across a plateau toward the final climb, the Category 3 Col de Sentinelle.
The Sentinelle offers the perfect launchpad for a winning move. It’s not particularly long or steep, but it’s close enough (just 8.5K) to the finish that either the climb itself, or the fast descent from its summit, will play a big role in deciding the stage’s final outcome.
Three hard days in the Alps will follow, which means teams might let the break go all the way. Then again, funny things happen in the Tour’s third week. While this stage is built for a successful breakaway, don’t be surprised if outfits like BORA–hansgrohe, Sunweb, and CCC make the race hard enough to keep escapees in check, drop the pure field sprinters, and set up Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews, and Greg Van Avermaet to battle for the win.
As for the yellow jersey, Julian Alaphilippe should have no issue keeping it for another day. The race leader might even try to grab a few seconds on the descent into Gap with a surprise attack over the top of the final climb (like he did when taking back yellow at the end of Stage 8).
Riders to Watch
When it comes to picking who might go on the attack this late in the Tour, it helps to look at those teams needing to salvage their race. That means we can expect to see a rider or two step up from Astana (like Luis León Sánchez and Alexey Lutsenko), EF Education First (Simon Clarke and Tanel Kangert), AG2R La Mondiale (Tony Gallopin and Oliver Naesen), and UAE Team Emirates (Rui Costa).
We also noticed that a few riders—namely Adam Yates, Matej Mohorič, and Roman Kreuziger—sat up at the end of Stage 16, perhaps with an eye on recovering early to be at their best for Stage 17.
When to Watch
With three fantastic Alpine stages still to come, you can probably get away with setting your DVR to record this one. If you decide to tune in live, do so around 11 a.m. EDT to see the final climb and the fast descent to the finish line.
[Related: How to Watch the Tour de France]
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