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Bergerac-Périgueux: The Race of Truth

news03.07.2014Pre-race

© Presse Sports

In the run-up to 4th July, letour.fr will be analysing 5 key stages on the route of the 2014 edition. Of symbolic importance in the development of the race or perhaps decisive with regard to the final general individual classification, they possess the required characteristics for an exceptional sporting show. Only one time trial is scheduled this year, on the penultimate day of racing, meaning that stage 20 might impact the final result tremendously.

THE TERRAIN

With 54 kilometres on the menu, this is one of the longest time trials in the recent history of the Tour de France. Archivists go as far back as in 2007 to find a longer course with 55.5km from Cognac to Angoulême. Not only the distance will make this unique race against the clock a hard one, but Thierry Gouvenou explained how the terrain will add to the difficulty of the solo exercise at that stage of the Tour. “Three false-flat sections are more than three kilometers long”, the race director said. “With 7km to go, there's a steeper climb that can change a rider from just naturally tired to completely exhausted. It's a serious affair!”

SPOTLIGHT ON… CHRIS FROOME

Looking at the difficult course and the 3472 kilometres covered since the Grand Départ in Leeds, a victory by a pure specialist like Tony Martin or Fabian Cancellara is not a sure thing. On the eve of the grand finale on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, stage 20 can simply be decisive in the quest for the yellow jersey. Speaking ahead of the Tour de France, Chris Froome predicted: “This time trial will impact the overall classification. I could race conservative knowing that I have a potential advantage over my direct rivals in the time trial at the end of the fight but I love racing and I won't prevent myself from attacking in the mountains.”
A winner of the last time trial from Embrun to Chorges last year, Froome is the best time triallist of all the Tour de France favorites. But Alberto Contador's come back at the top level isn't to be underestimated. In his best years, the Spaniard was also an excellent rider against the clock who notably won such event around the lake of Annecy back in 2009. Favorites don't necessarily excel in those special circumstances at the end of three weeks of racing, as fatigue and injuries take their toll. In 2008, Cadel Evans was still largely considered able to close the gap of one and half minute during the final time trial from Cérilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond but race leader Carlos Sastre who was boosted by wearing the yellow jersey only lost twenty seconds on the Australian.

THEY WILL NOT BE FAR BEHIND

More or less, the final classification of the Tour de France will be known by the time the riders will move to the starting ramp. But duels are likely to take place for either the podium, the top five or the top ten. On the twentieth day of racing, it's not only about time trial skills. Recovery and resistance are key factors too. One concern that Froome expressed at the beginning of the 2014 season was Vincenzo Nibali's recent improvements in time trialling but the Italian isn't the only one who can do well against the clock. Up and coming Americans Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp and Tejay van Garderen from BMC are also likely to regain some time on that particular day. Alejandro Valverde is the new Spanish time trial champion. For others like French climbers Thibaut Pinot, Pierre Rolland and Romain Bardet, it'll be a question of limiting the damage to fulfill their ambition.

The news in pictures

photo03/07/2014 

© Presse Sports

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Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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Who is the most likely to win stage 21 on the Champs-Elysées?

  • Marcel Kittel37.14%
  • Alexander Kristoff12.44%
  • André Greipel7.74%
  • Mark Renshaw2.15%
  • Peter Sagan40.53%
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