Tour de France Stage 16 Preview: One of the Last Days for the Sprinters
Coming out of the second rest day of the 2019 Tour, Stage 16 starts and ends in Nîmes. That means riders won’t have to pack their bags and move after it’s over – a nice gesture, considering how hard the next several stages will be.
The course cuts a big loop north and then west of Nîmes, with a rolling profile featuring only one categorised climb. Crosswinds could pose a threat late in the day, especially after the race makes a hard turn south in Uzès, 28.5K from the finish.
With a relatively flat finale and a long, straight shot to the line, this looks like one of only two stages left for the sprinters.
Then again, it’s the third week of the Tour, expected to be incredibly hot, and those teams with two of the best field sprinters – Deceuninck–Quick Step (Elia Viviani) and Jumbo–Visma (Dylan Groenewegen) – now have overall contenders to look after (Julian Alaphilippe and Steven Kruijswijk). The peloton might rather let a break go to the finish, saving its energy for the Alps.
After losing time at the end of Stage 15, race leader Alaphilippe is beginning to look vulnerable. He’ll hope for an easy stage with no crosswinds, giving him another day in yellow and more time to recover before the Alps.
Riders to Watch
If it all comes back together for a field sprint, it could set things up for our second-to-last chance to see Viviani, Groenewegen, and Lotto–Soudal’s Caleb Ewan battle it out for a stage win (each would like to earn a second this year). And keep an eye on Alexander Kristoff, always at his fastest in the Tour’s final week, who won a stage in Nîmes in 2014.