On June 11th exactly the same route was raced in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Romain Bardet attacked just before cresting the penultimate col and headed for glory in the drop and consolidated on the climb to Pra-Loup. Tejay van Garderen was second and Chris Froome third, putting minutes into Nibali.
The secret behind Bardet’s success in the Dauphiné-stage to Pra-Loup was his brilliant descent of the Col d’Allos. It is a technical drop that should suit good descenders such as Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador. It is up to Chris Froome to minimize his losses. Interesting last thing: just prior to the Tour Contador won the Route du Sud by dropping Quintana in a descent after he could not get rid of the Colombian on the climb. If Quintana wants to put pressure on Froome, the recipe will be to attack along with Contador and Nibali in the descent of the Allos
Romain Bardet himself is way down on the GC, but his form is getting better as the Tour unfolds, so he could be up for a repeat of his Dauphiné success. Another man to watch is Joaquim Rodríguez. The Catalan climber already won two stages and he is eyeing up the KOM jersey.
Last year KOM winner Rafal Majka won the stage to Cauterets. He will have to support Tinkoff-leader Contador, but of course there is always the possibility of the two of them joining forces.
If the pack is still bunched at the cosing climb, Froome might be up for his second win in the yellow jersey.
*** Joaquim Rodríguez, Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador
** Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana
* Rafal Majka, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome
Tour de France 2015 stage 17: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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