Amounting to merely 65 kilometres, yet packed with three massive climbs – voilà, the 18th stage of the Tour de France. Once the flag is dropped the riders tackle Montée de Peyragudes, a 14.9 kilometres climb with an average gradient of 6.7%. Shortly after the descent the Col de Val Louron-Azet kicks in with its 7.4 kilometres at 8.3%. The toughest ascent of the day is the haul up to the line. The Col du Portet amounts to 16 kilometres, while its average gradient is 8.7%.
Such a compact and vertical route should be the tonic to ignite the race straight after the start. We are in the third week of action and this is the penultimate chance for climbers to put time into their rivals on GC. So it would be wise to strike early on. Who to expect? If Quintana, who is more than 4 minutes down on GC, wants to improve he has only one option – attack! And Kruijswijk, who emerged as a legitimate Grand Tour threat on the 2016 Giro d’Italia and so bravely attacked on the road to Alpe d’Huez, already announced that he will charge again in the Pyrenees.
The shortest high altitude stage on the previous Tour de France amounted to 101 kilometres. Barguil won the race in a four-up sprint, besting Quintana, Contador and Landa. All four had seen their overall ambitions turned sour, so it was a sprint for the stage win. The most important GC guys finished almost 2 minutes down on them, all in the same time.
Favourites 17th stage 2018 Tour de France
*** Nairo Quintana, Steven Kruijswijk, Romain Bardet,
** Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglic, Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin
* Rafal Majka, Mikel Landa, David Gaudu, Daniel Martin
Tour de France 2018 stage 17: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom
Video with explanation about the start
Climb details Montée de Peyrgdues
Climb details Col de Val Louron-Azet
Climb details Col du Portet
3D bird’s eye route
Bagnères-de-Luchon and Col du Portet at Google maps