Preview: 2014 Tour de France — Stage 17
Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan (124.5km)
Wednesday, July 23rd 7:40 a.m. – 11:07 a.m. EDT
This may be the shortest stage of the race, apart from the time trial, but it’s not going to be easy. Any difficulty the Alps can present, the Pyrenees can better. This has four categorized climbs ranging from 8.3km to 13.2km in length, and at between 7 and 8.3 percent average gradient. The short length of the stage suggests this one could be tackled at speed, meaning those with heavy legs and weary bodies will likely wilt in the mountain sun. Expect a breakaway to launch a long way from home, and look for it to go all the way to the line, as the true fireworks will take place amongst the contenders behind. For the riders in the grupetto, this will be a nightmarish day as the elimination time limit won’t allow them much leeway at all, forcing the sprinters to commit fully for the whole stage. Several candidates for the green jersey could even find themselves on the way back home after this stage. This is undoubtedly a stage that shouldn’t be missed.