Who will win Stage 14?
After a gentle roll out of Saint-Paul-Trios-Chateaux the route traverses four steep climbs, before finishing at the Mende airport: tailor-made for puncheurs but we could see gaps between the GC contenders too, if they feel frisky.
The Côte du Grand Châtaignier, a relatively short distance of 1km but with average gradient of 7.4% is the first test, followed by the second most serious climb: the 2nd-category Col de la Croix de Berthel (9.1km at 5.3%) and the Col du Pont sans Eau, a 3.3km climb at a 6.3% average gradient.
The finale is brutal. At 188 kilometres, the riders cross the hilly Drôme department to finish with the Cote de la Croix Neuve, a 3km climb at 10.2% with ramps are 18%. A 1 kilometre drop and 500 metres on the flat lead to the finish on the airport runway in Mende. If Vincenzo Nibali was still here, this would be his territory, but we have also seen Froome unafraid of taking time on a descent (and Thomas will be wanting to avoid telephone poles…).
Will Froome have the freedom to escape? Or will the GC guys keep their tinder dry for tomorrow… we think they will, and leave the stage honours to a late attack from Valverde/Martin/Valgren/Slagter/Alaphillipe/AllOfQuickstep… and the winner is….. Michael Valgren.