What you should know about the Tour’s 20th stage, which takes riders from Megève to Morzine on 23 July. – By Whit Yost
Recent Tours have concluded with summit finishes on the penultimate day in an attempt to generate late-race drama. But in the 2016 Tour de France, while still mountainous, the final stage before Paris ends with a descent.
Of course, four major climbs come before it, including the Hors Categorie Col de Joux Plane. But it’s the 12km descent into Morzine and the final uphill rise to the finish line that will make the difference for the men fighting to join Team Sky’s Chris Froome on the final podium in Paris.
Why It Matters
Froome is definitely battered and bruised after yesterday’s crash. He was visibly sore on the podium after the stage, with a large bandage on his right knee. With thunderstorms expected this afternoon and a tough descent from the top of the Joux Plane to the finish in Morzine, Froome will not have an easy ride. That said, with more than four minutes of an advantage, his lead in the 2016 Tour de France is still fairly secure.
Behind Froome, five riders sit within 1:49 of one another and most of them appear to be getting stronger each day. Tomorrow’s finale should see more aggressive racing from men like Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, BMC’s Richie Porte, and Astana’s Fabio Aru.
For Movistar and Astana, two teams that have not yet won a stage in this year’s Tour, Stage 20 is their riders’ last chance to shine before the race ends Sunday. Anticipate that Quintana and Aru will be extra-motivated on the final climb—and the technical descent to the finish.
When to Tune In
Today’s stage will be fast start from the start, but it’s the long, hard climb of the Col de Joux Plane and the steep, technical descent to the finish in Morzine that will matter most during Stage 20.