Stage 19: Another Hot Day for the Sprinters

Will the big teams let the break stay away today? Surely not - Stage 19 has Pedersen vs The Rest writ large (guess where our money is?).

By Whit Yost |

Stage 19 – Moirans-en-Montagne to Poligny (172.8km) – Friday, July 21

Stage 19 brings the Tour closer to its final weekend with a rolling stage through the Jura that dodges many of the region’s more difficult climbs in favor of a more transitional stage with a finale that should produce another exciting battle between a breakaway and the Tour’s remaining field sprinters.

Beginning in Moirans-en-Montagne, a town famous for its hand-made wooden toys, the route heads north and then makes a quick turn to the south for the first of the stage’s two categorised climbs: the Category 4 Côte du Bois de Lionge.

After the summit of this relatively minor climb, the riders head north on winding, jagged roads that will have them constantly climbing or descending. This will make the race hard to control, giving the breakaway a distinct advantage over a peloton that’s likely looking ahead to Saturday’s climbing stage–and then to the end of the Tour.

It’s in the final hour where things get interesting. The Category 3 Côte d’Ivory comes 28.1km from the finish line, making it the perfect launchpad for a stage-winning attack. But about 19km later, in the town of Aumont, the race makes a hard left turn and heads directly to Poligny via a long, false flat that takes them right up to the finish line. And we mean that literally: there are no corners and no bends–it’s a 9.4km straight shot to the line. There aren’t even any roundabouts inside the final 5km!

2023 tour de france stage 19 profileLike the end of Stage 18, this should yield a dramatic clash between what’s left of the breakaway and the peloton, with the pack able to see the escapees as they fight to survive all the way to the finish line. With an organised peloton generally able to reel back one minute per ten kilometres, the break will need at least one minute–but probably a bit more than that–once they make the turn at Aumont.

Expect another nail-biter of a finish, with the breakaway possibly getting caught inside the final kilometre. The sprinters’ teams will be a bit more aggressive in their chase after missing-out on Stage 18 though, and perhaps won’t leave anything to chance this time.

Riders to watch

Breakaways are always a lottery this late in the Tour, but we’re keeping our eyes on three riders heading into Stage 19: Denmark’s Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Great Britain’s Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), and Germany’s Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe). Cort’s an expert at winning stages like these, mixing strength with an incredible sense of race craft.

Wright, one of the sport’s best up-and-comers, took a breakthrough win at the British National Championships and looks primed for a bigger victory. And Politt always has a nose for a good breakaway and is powerful enough to drive the breakaway to victory on the long drag to Poligny.

And if it’s all for naught and the breakaway is caught before the finish, it’s another chance for Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) to continue dominating this year’s field sprints, with Denmark’s Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) and the Netherlands’ Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco AlUla) looking to upset him.

When to Watch

It might be easy to overlook this stage, but we think the finale will really be a treat. Tune-in around 16h30 to catch all the action from the final climb through the drag race pursuit to the finish.

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