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The peloton will reach the highest point of the 2017 Tour de France on Wednesday, as the legendary Col du Galibier will have to be conquered on the way to the finish line in Serre-Chevalier.
While Thursday’s stage and the climb up the Col d’Izoard should wreak even more havoc on the riders, Stage 17 can not be overlooked. With two climbs over 2,000 metres and a long, technical descent toward the finish line, the general classification will almost certainly see some major changes.
Here’s a look at the full route, courtesy of CyclingnewsTV:
TV Info: Eurosport, ITV 4 (UK), NBC Sports (U.S.)
Live Stream: Eurosport website, ITV app, NBC Sports Live service
The Galibier is one of the Tour’s most iconic climbs, a lengthy monster in the Alps that barely gives the riders any time to breathe.
It’s an ascent with plenty of history in La Grande Boucle and was at one time regarded as an almost inhumane climb. BikeRadar did a feature on the massive mountain:
To make matters worse, the peloton will tackle the Col de la Croix de Fer before they even reach the Galibier. Croix de Fer is well over 20 kilometres long and a brutal climb in its own right, and it directs the riders toward the north side of the Galibier, where the tough Col du Telegraphe leads the bunch to the main event.
GranFondoGuide shared the stage profile, and to say it appears daunting would be an understatement:
Checkout tomorrow’s Epic stage –
Croix De Fer, Telegraphe and Galibier! Ouch! https://t.co/6m9kNV6GzV #tdf2017 #tdf https://t.co/wqQrX9sROI
This will be a day for the pure climbers and contenders for the general classification. The lengthy descent will give some of the better technicians the chance to make up some time, but if a rider cracks on the Galibier, his bid for the yellow jersey will likely be over.
Sky have done a superb job of controlling the pace during the tour, but they will be bombarded with attacks in the coming two days. Astana and AG2R La Mondiale have so far opted to attack Chris Froome and his team-mates late, but Movistar have some serious catching up to do―they’ll likely be out of the saddle from the base of the Telegraphe.
Peter Dejong/Associated Press
Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet have so far kept pace with Froome very well, but they’ll need to do some serious damage in the next two stages. Unless Froome breaks completely, he’ll be the favourite among the general classification contenders for the time trial in Marseille, where he’s likely to gain plenty of time on his rivals.
There’s a reasonable chance a breakaway rider wins Wednesday’s stage, but all eyes will be on the group of contenders. These next two stages in the Alps will be crucial and could decide who wears the yellow jersey in Paris this coming weekend.