Who will win Stage 16?
After a day of relative rest, the remaining 150 riders in the Tour de France get a chance to re-wake their legs with a 218km stage from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon. And what a rude awakening it will be, as the race heads into the Pyrenees. A lumpy opening 125km to the first intermediate sprint has two early Cat4 climbs, so both Julian Alaphillipe and Peter Sagan will be in the break of the day to reinforce their respective Polka Dot and Green Jersey leads, as will the usual suspects: most of Direct Energie, Thomas de Gendt and a handful of other strong men with no GC ambitions left. Include in that number, possible, Adam Yates, who lost nearly 40 minutes last week, so is no longer a threat. If he can make the break, the finale – two Cat1s and a Cat2, all three steep and tricky – will suit his aggressive style of riding, and he may just manage to stay away from the volcanic GC battle, where the Sky machine needs to show us how they are going to sort out their leadership dilemma, and Tom Dumoulin will be looking to sneak away from them while they squabble. The 10km descent to the finish is gnarly, which will suit a Froome long-ranger, but with Wednesday’s insane 65km stage in the back of their minds, we are most likely to see a fast, but neutral final few climbs, with the top ten all trading half-hearted blows (Dan Martin the exception – maybe he will lure Froome out for a cheeky one), but saving energy for Stage 17.
Adam Yates for the win, then, staying away (just) from the mad descent of the Froome/Martin mutineers.