Tour de France 2014 Favourites stage 16: The Amazing Nibali Downhill Show?
A long, tough 237.5 kilometres carries the riders over five cols, the last an hors catégorie. From the top a 20 kilometre descent could see an opportunity for the downhill master Vincenzo Nibali. Other notable on this terrain is World Champion Rui Costa. (Slideshow route/profile)
Arrival town Bagnères-de-Luchon saw Thomas Voeckler taek stage wins in 2010 and 2012. The years are taking their toll – after all, Le Chouchou is 35 years by now -, but he will surely take his chances today…
Only one goal for Nibali in 2014: win the Tour de France. An improved Dauphine performance after a tough season suggested he’ll be in the mix, but he was some way behind Contador on the climbs. He’s now the Italian champion and he may choose to show off his tricolour on the final descent today. We’ve seen him pull out minutes almost easily on terrain like this. Can he put on a show today and take some time? His form is up after his disappointing pre-season, not only shown with the Italian championship but also with his victory in stage 2. Or should we say: his disappointing pre-season was in fact a brilliant build-up, since his performance in stage 5 was nothing short of spectacular, just like his performaces in the Alps.
Another great descender. If he and Nibali can go down into the depths together upon cresting Port de Balès, it’s possible they could take minutes and battle for day victory.
Another scenario could see the escapees cresting the Port de Balès earlier than the GC men. Potential candidates to shine in such a break are Simon Spilak (strong with wins in the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné) and Tony Martin, who brilliantly outpowered each and everyone in stage 9.
Alexandre Geniez has fond memories of the region. Last year, a stage in the Vuelta finished on French soil and the 25-year old FDJ-rider soloed to victory after attacking the break on the descent.
Tour de France 2014 stage 16: Images and more
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