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After the second rest day, the 2017 Tour de France enters its final stretch on Tuesday, with Stage 16 on tap.
The ride to Romans-sur-Isere shouldn’t bother the peloton too much, with a bunch sprint expected after a scenic day in the Massif Central and Rhone Valley. Expect to see plenty of spectacular helicopter images during a very fast stage.
Here’s a look at the route, via CyclingnewsTV:
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The peloton enjoyed its second rest day on Monday in Le Puy-en-Velay, where Tuesday’s stage will also start. It’s one of France’s best kept secrets, a stunning city hidden in the Haute-Loire region, and the riders undoubtedly enjoyed their time off there.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome gladly posed for a photo, per Matt Dickinson of the Times:
Matt Dickinson @DickinsonTimes
Le Puy-en-Velay, since you’re asking… https://t.co/WBI2NRMYTA
But starting Tuesday, it’s back to business. The first half of the stage sees the peloton return to the Massif Central, and while the riders won’t face any really tough ascents, the descents could prove tricky.
A breakaway group is almost certain to establish itself early, and in the Massif Central, it could build a comfortable lead in a hurry. The sprint teams will have earmarked this stage, however, and likely won’t lift their foot off the gas once in the second half of the stage.
Bernard Papon/Associated Press
This could be the sprinters’ final chance to shine before the Champs-Elysees, with the race hitting the Alps on Wednesday. Stage 17 seems a good bet for a breakaway to last until the finish line, so the teams specialising in that type of racing may keep one or two riders back on Tuesday as well.
Marcel Kittel has been close to unstoppable so far, with a remarkable five stage wins already. As shared by CafeRoubaix, his performance in this race has been historic:
Marcel Kittel is the first rider in 108 years to win at least five of the first 11 stages of a Tour de France edition.
With Peter Sagan disqualified in the opening week, the road to the green jersey opened up for the German, and he’s agonisingly close to winning the points classification. As long as Michael Matthews doesn’t make any major gains on Tuesday, Kittel should be safe―barring crashes and abandoning the race.
The favourites for the general classification should enjoy a reasonably easy day in the saddle, with the tricky descents too far from the finish line to make a difference. The likes of Froome and Fabio Aru will be eyeing the Alps, where this year’s race will likely be won.