The first half of the 16th stage is the lull before the storm. On gently undulating roads the riders pedal – that is, after the breakaway has been formed – to the Col de Portet d’Aspet (5.4 kilometres at 7.1%) and following the drop down a false flat leads to the Col de Menté (6.9 kilometres at 8.1%). A transition phase in the race then ushers in the finale. Firstly Col du Portillon (8.3 kilometres at 7,1%) before a 10.5 kilometres drop flies down to the finish line in Bagnères-de-Luchon.
In brief, if you want to win stage 16 climbing is a prerequisite, while fast descenders are likely to turn out on ‘top’ at the end of the race. Usual suspects are Julian Alaphilippe and Chris Froome, who reinvented himself in 2016 on the descent to – of all places – Bagnères-de-Luchon. At the time, the Tour de France traveled over the Peyresourde to conclude with a 15.5 kilometres drop to the renowned spa town in the Occitanie region. Until that day, it was a general assessment that Froome was a poor descender, but over the last top he attacked to fly all the way down. The reduced peloton trailed him by 13 seconds at the line. Recently, he put on a similar display at the Giro, when he won almost 2 minutes on the descent of the Colle delle Finestre, which ultimately led him to win the GC. Tom Dumoulin is een solid descender, too. In the 11th stage, the Dutchman distanced the GC group in the descent of the penultimate climb and the only riders who could rejoin before the line were gerain Thoams and Chris Froome.
The big question in advance obviously is whether the race will come down to a clash of GC riders or a breakaway’s battle for the stage honours.
Favourites 16th stage 2018 Tour de France
*** Chris Froome, Primoz Roglic, Tom Dumoulin, Romain Bardet
** Geraint Thomas, Julian Alaphilippe, Alejandro Valverde, Adam Yates
* Bauke Mollema, Lilian Calmejane, Robert Gesink, Warren Barguil, Tejay van Garderen
Tour de France 2018 stage 16: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Climb details Col de Portet-d’Aspet and Mente
Climb details Col du Portillon
Profile final kilometres
Route final kilometres
Carscassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon at Google maps