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by Matthew de Vroet
July 15, 2017
Photography by Cor Vos
Date: Saturday, July 15
Distance: 181.5km (113.4mi)
With the breakaways not being very successful this Tour, many specialists will have their eyes set on Stage 14 if the puncheurs’ teams do not keep it together for the final ascent of the Côte Saint-Pierre. The two third-category climbs won’t trouble the peloton, but the whole day is more like one long ascent before a small downhill into Rodez for the finale. Those hoping for a breakaway win might not be too optimistic about their chances as riders such as Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) are both winless and suit the profile — Van Avermaet took his first Tour stage win at Rodez in 2015, just ahead of Peter Sagan. Quick-Step Floors will also look to add to their five stage wins from this year’s race with strong favourites Philippe Gilbert and Dan Martin both eager to capitalise on their good form. The teams with the punchy riders will have to take the responsibility among themselves to pull back the breakaway, as Astana and Team Sky will likely have no interest in chasing the move down.
Christian Prudhomme, race director: “The countryside of the southwest, whether it’s in Tarn or Aveyron, offers outstanding viewpoints. Sweet to the eyes are the aerial shots of the countless little valleys that are however tough on the legs of the riders on solid ground. The stage will be demanding. In these conditions, the Côte Saint-Pierre will offer a splendid launch pad to a puncher.”