The first rider at the summit of the Galibier gains a time bonus of 8 seconds. If he can hold on to in the descent to claim the 10 seconds bonus awarded to the stage winner, he ends up scooping quite a jackpot. These things considered, it seems unlikely for the breakaway to succeed in the stage over the legendary trio Vars, Izoard and Galibier.
The climbing gets underway with the 3rd category Demoiselles Coiffées to warm the legs. Following a short descent, the route continues false flat to the Col de Vars. The 9.3 kilometres climb at 7.5% is crested at kilometre 85.5. Two hors-catégorie climbs left, so now it is getting serious.
Back in the valley the route starts to climb immediately, although at shallow gradients. If you add this section to the actual climb, the Col d’Izoard is 32 kilometres long. Yet, the official ascent begins when the riders leave the D947 with a sharp left-hander. Seen in this light, the Izoard is 14.1 kilometres long and the average slope sits at 7.3%.
After Briançon the riders tackle the Galibier, which is a massive ascent of 23 kilometres long. Actually, the first 15 kilometres are the Col du Lauteret, which is a friendly ascent with gradients hovering around 4 to 5%. But then the climb ups the ante with an average gradient of 6.2% in the second part, while the last kilometre climbs at 9%.
Given the time bonuses and the brutality of the Galibier, the GC battle is expected to be intense. The sheer length of the last climb and the previous hardship should bring tough climbers to the fore.
If – and that’s a big if – Alaphilippe survives the Izoard and Galibier, he should be able to win his third stage on this Tour de France. After all, he is one of the best descenders in the peloton.
Favourites 18th stage 2019 Tour de France
*** Steven Kruijswijk, Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa
** Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Emanuel Buchmann
* Simon Yates, Bauke Mollema, Lennard Kämna, Julian Alaphilippe
Take a look at the route of the 18th stage on the Tour de France.
Tour de France 2019 stage 18: profiles
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