2022 Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

Bourg d’Oisans > Saint-Étienne 192.3km

What a fabulous week of racing we’ve had, and there’s still three stages to go until the final rest day. The GC battle is put on hold, and we have a transition day to Saint-Étienne. It looks like one for the sprinters, but with tired legs, the right break could go a long way. However, as this could well be the last sprint before Paris, the sprint teams will be keen on setting this up for the fast men.

Weather

Roasting hot, with temperatures over 30 degrees. The opening 140km of the stage is into a headwind, bad news for the break, with the final 50km mainly a cross/tailwind. The wind will reach a peak of around 22km/h, but I don’t think we’ll see echelons.

Key Points

The finale kicks off with 50km to go, with this cat 3 climb. Overall, it’s 8.1km at 4.3%, but that includes a little flat section in the middle. The opening slopes of the hill are the hardest, it will hit some hard, making it a perfect opportunity for some teams to go hard and put the pure sprinters under pressure. Also, parts of the climb are exposed to the elements and there will be a crosswind at this point. 

This unclassified climb comes with 10km to go and provides another opportunity to take the sting out of the sprinters. If you’ve made it this far, you won’t get dropped on this climb.

Finale

Much of the finish takes place on relatively narrow roads, a good early position at the front is essential. There is a roundabout with 6.3km to go, where the left-hand side is significantly faster. The final 5km kicks off with another roundabout, this time it doesn’t matter which side you take, they look the same to me. The next obstacle is a fast corner with 3km to go, the road is narrow at this point and there is an unwelcome piece of street furniture which could cause some issues for those who are unprepared.

The next potential issue is a very tight corner with 1.3km to go. At this point the bunch take a right-hand turn at a roundabout, not only is the turn tight, but the road is fairly narrow and barriers are likely to be up at this point, making it even narrower. Those who are on the left-hand side at this point are in the key position, they’ll be able to take the corner with a lot of speed, those on the right won’t. The last corner comes with 800 to go, it can be taken at full speed and this leads into the finishing straight, which is slightly uphill and wide.

Tactics

The beginning of the stage will be very interesting. Those that want a sprint will make it clear in the neutral zone, in order to try and put off the breakaway riders. The news of 140km of headwind will already have put most off the idea of a day out in the sun, but when the big sprint teams mark the big breakaway riders, a small group should be allowed to get away. The start is mainly downhill, the peloton will want the break to go before the climb after 28km, if it goes on the climb, it’s much harder to ensure the break is weak. 

Once it does go, everyone will be happy for a tranquillo day, but that will stop with 50km to go. This is the point where those with a climbing sprinter will try and put the pure sprinters under pressure. Trek-Segafredo love doing this, they are bound to lift the pace on the climb, and they’ll likely drop some of the sprinters who have struggled through the recent mountain stages. The crosswind on the climb also means the GC teams will want to be at the front, which naturally lifts the pace. No doubt, we’ll see a reduced bunch head towards Saint-Étienne, but by how much is a mystery. 

I think you’ll see lots of people tell you this is a breakaway stage, but I seriously doubt it. With the sprint and GC teams making it clear what they want, and the prospect of a long day in a headwind, the breakaway riders will save their bullets for the weekend where both stages are nailed on breakaway days.

Contenders

Wout Van Aert – yes, he’s used up a lot of energy in the last two days, but his powers of recovery are better than just about anyone else. Normal thinking would say he wouldn’t win this stage, but Van Aert is a different beast, someone capable of the incredible. If he is tired, I’d like to see Laporte get a chance.

Jasper Philipsen – two second places last year and already two second places this year, he’s very close to netting his first Tour de France stage. He’s been climbing pretty well throughout this race, he got to within 1km of the finishes in Longwy and Lausanne. Two of his teammates are already out of the race, so they don’t have as many guys as they would like to chase the break and help prepare the sprint. The good thing is that Philipsen is very good at surfing the wheels.

Mads Pedersen – just one visit to the podium for him in the race, and that was on the second day. The former world champion will be a little frustrated with how his race has panned out, but this is a good chance to change all of that. Trek-Segafredo are one of the teams likely to make the cat 3 climb hard, dropping the pure sprinters will significantly increases Pedersen’s chances of taking the win. With Stuyven to lead him out, this is a big chance for Mads to win his first grand tour stage.

Alexander Kristoff – we’re now getting to the point in the race where he’ll compete in sprint finishes. The mountains will start to take their toll on the faster riders, bringing them closer to the speed of Kristoff. His sprint train is looking good, but he would rather a cooler day with some rain.

Dylan Groenewegen – it all depends on the cat 3 climb. He’s climbing quite well just now, but it’s likely he’ll get dropped at some point on the hill. We’ve seen the commitment BikeExchange show their fast man back in the Dauphiné, they’ll surround him and try to get back to the peloton. As there is over 40km to go from the crest, they have every chance of doing so, if the gap is around 1 minute or less. 

Fabio Jakobsen – he’s in the same position as Groenewegen, likely to get dropped on the climb, but can he make it back to the bunch in time for the sprint?

Caleb Ewan – surprisingly, he’s been the first of the sprinters to get dropped in the big mountains. I would always back him to survive this kind of climb, but his current climbing form is certainly giving me cause for concern. 

Peter Sagan – he’s been up there in the sprint finishes, but without challenging for the win. Just like Kristoff, as the race gets closer to Paris, he should start to get closer to the win. The relatively narrow roads in the finale of the race are perfect for Sagan, he’s still one of the best at holding position in the final 3km.

Bahrain – no sprinter, so they’ll be looking for the break. Some might have their eyes on the weekend stages, but the likes of Tratnik and Wright are good for this type of stage.

Nils Politt – a good stage for a big strong lad.

Alberto Bettiol – he’s clearly got good legs, but his tactics have been a little questionable in some of the stages. 

Jonas Rutsch – teammate of Bettiol and someone who’s really impressed me over the last 12 months. The big German is a strong rouleur, perfect for this type of stage.

Prediction Time

For all the reasons I’ve already explained, I fancy a sprint finish, but the cat 3 climb will be too hard for a few of the pure sprinters, but some might get back on in the run for home. After a series of second places, I’ll take a first Tour win for Jasper Philipsen.

I’m delighted to help support Refugee Routes for the rest of the Tour de France. In Scotland, we have a long history of being welcoming to refugees. The current situation in many countries in the world simply isn’t good enough, anything we can do to help, we should. Please take time to visit the website and see if you can participate in a challenge.

Refugee Routes is a design-your-own cycling challenge to fundraise for The Bike Project. Cycle the distance of a common migration route in solidarity with refugees. Learn about a refugee’s journey along the way. By joining Refugee Routes, you will help The Bike Project collect second-hand bikes, refurbish, and donate them to refugees and asylum seekers. A bike can provide free access to vital services such as healthcare and legal services. Cycling can help to improve mental and physical health, as well as tackle social isolation and build confidence.

https://refugee-routes.thebikeproject.co.uk

Share: