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Tour de France 2018: Stage 17 only 65km with summit finish on the Col de Portet

Joe Robinson
24 Jul 2018

Stage 17 will see an unusually short stage of 65km with three classified climbs and a summit finish

Stage 17 of the 2018 Tour de France will take the peloton on an unusually short 65km route from Bagnere-de-Luchon to the summit finish of the Col de Portet from Saint-Lary-Soulan on Wednesday 25th July.

Primed to be an explosive stage from the start, 38km of the total 65km will see the riders climbing with the remaining 27km comprised almost completely of descents.

The race will start immediately with a 13.5km climb up the Col de Peyresourde before a 10km descent into Loudenvielle.

This is then followed by the 10km climb of the Col de Val Louron-Azet, taking the riders to 1,580m in altitude before the final descent of the day into Saint-Lary-Soulan.

The final climb of Stage 17 appears to be the toughest on paper. At 15km in length, riders will be tackling gradients of up to 12% with prolonged sections taking the gradient above 9%.

Besides the climb's steepness, the peloton will have to contest with the altitude of the Col de Portet with the summit coming at 2,215m above sea level.

Stage 17 profile and climbs

Image: Le Tour de France twitter

Grid system

Riders will be set off in a grid system, with those at the top of the General Classification setting off first. The groups of 20 riders will be sent off with a small gap between each.

Riders will have to decide whether to push on or sit up and wait for domestiques who may be starting some time later.

Explaining the idea to the riders the race handbook states that, 'Riders shall be positioned in the same order as the General Classification after the previous stage.

'They shall be distributed into five different groups. The first 20 in the GC shall be included in the first group in offset rows with the wearer of the yellow jersey in first place.

'Riders shall then position themselves freely in the other groups corresponding to their places in the General Classification.’

Exciting innovation or damp squib?

In total, the riders will be climbing just under 3,000m in elevation on this short stage making it one of the most unpredictable and anticipated days of the 2018 Tour de France.

With the stage being so short, this particular day could be of concern to the members of the grupetto, who will have a tough time making the time cut. 

If the main General Classification group decide to attack from the gun, the fact that the time cut will be so narrow may see any remaining sprinters and their lead out men frantically racing to reach the stage finish in time.

Additionally, with a rolling time trial just days after, those looking to distance GC rivals who are better against the clock, such as Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), may see this as the perfect launch pad.

For all the excitement around the stage, if those at the top of the GC simply mark each other then we could be in for a pretty mediocre day in the mountains.

Although difficult to call favourites for the stage, it is likely that the stage will be contested by those with overall ambitions due to the length of the day.

Previously, the likes of Warren Barguil and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) have animated stages from distance, and could be tempted into a similar attack into Saint-Lary-Soulan.

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