After the insanity on Mt. Ventoux, riders may actually welcome the relatively straightforward challenge of the first individual time-trial (ITT) of the 2016 Tour de France. If nothing else, it will sort out an overall classification that’s unusually tight for this late in the race.
Riders will have to pace themselves well to record faster times, as the ITT begins and ends with long uphill grades. On paper, this stage is tailor-made for Team Sky’s Chris Froome, who’s undisputedly the best individual time-trialist of the GC contenders. If Froome can recover from the Ventoux crash (psychologically, as he did not initially appear to be physically injured), he could stamp his dominance on the race, where he’s already proved to be the most aggressive of the overall contenders and arguably in the best shape. But if he falters, it could set up a memorable third week of racing.
Why It Matters
More than any other stage, this is Froome’s chance to truly separate himself from the other riders. The course is perfect for him, tactics won’t matter, and—hopefully—neither will any roadside fans. Of the other contenders, the BMC tandem of Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen could also make up some time, as could Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde. Pure climbers like Nairo Quintana won’t suffer too much on a hilly course, but it’s not the place for them to make a big move. They’ll hope to stay close to Froome and the better time-trialists and wait for the mountains in week three.
Where are the SA riders?
Louis Meintjes (Lampre – Merida) is still the highest placed SA rider in 12th place, 2’29” behind Chris Froome (Team Sky). He is also currently sitting in 2nd place in the white jersey classification, 1’42” behind Adam Yates (Orica-BkeExchange). Meintjes has some solid TT results on a national level so if he is hoping to get into the white jersey, today could be a key day for him. Daryl Impey (Orica-BikeExchange) is currently in 38th position and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) is in 116th position.