Oct 21, 2016 – With the second of two Pyrenean stages behind them, the riders in next year’s Tour de France, announced earlier this week, head to the race’s fourth mountain range: The Massif Central. Stage 14 from Blagnac, near Toulouse, is on a lumpy course that has an uphill finish into Rodez—where, two years ago, Greg Van Avermaet scored a memorable sprint win over Peter Sagan in a blazing heat wave.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
Next year, though, the following stage 15 is expected to have a far greater influence on the race. The 189-kilometer route from Laissac-Sévérac l’Église to Le Puy-en-Velay is mostly on narrow back roads through countryside such as this—seen on a similar stage to Le Puy at the 2005 Tour (which won by Italian gregario Giuseppe Guerini in a long breakaway.
What’s different about the 2017 stage to Le Puy is the inclusion for the first time of the extremely narrow Col de Peyra Taillade, which averages 7.4 percent for 8.3 kilometers, with a double-digit section in the middle of the climb. The remaining 30 kilometers to Le Puy include two more short, steep climbs at Saint-Vidal and Polignac. It’s the sort of stage where some surprise contenders could steal a march on the top favorites going into the final week.