Jul 25 2014

Le Tour 2014: Stage 19, Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour / Bergerac

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

And so we are virtually done except for the Youth competition and some podium positions that have yet to be decided.  Vincenzo Nibali’s first place finish on the slopes of Montée du Hautacam has created an insurmountable lead that will not change in the 2 days of actual racing left.

After about 2 km of climbing Nibali took the stage lead from Mikel Nieve who had led an early breakaway and after that it was mere jockying for position among the back markers.  Rafal Majka had the most to lose because if he finished worse than 6th Nibali would also grab the King of the Mountains title.  Thibaut Pinot, Alejandro Valverde BelMonte, Jean-Christophe Péraud, and Tejay Van Garderen were looking for advantage headed into Saturday’s Time Trial.

On the stage it was  Vincenzo Nibali, Thibaut Pinot (1:10), Rafal Majka (1:12), Jean-Christophe Péraud and Tejay Van Garderen tied at 1:15, Romain Bardet (1:53), Bauke Mollema and Leopold Konig tied at 1:57, and Haimar Zubeldia Agirre, Alejandro Valverde BelMonte, and Laurens Ten Dam tied at 1:59.  Everyone else was over 3 and a half minutes behind.

In the General Classification it is Vincenzo Nibali, Thibaut Pinot (7:10), Jean-Christophe Péraud (7:23), Alejandro Valverde BelMonte (7:25), and Romain Bardet (9:27).  Everyone else is over 11 and a half minutes behind.  Unless there are notable external developments (crash, injury, sickness) the last stages will be a contest between Pinot, Péraud, and Valverde BelMonte for 2nd and 3rd positions.

For Points it is Peter Sagan (408), Bryan Coquard (253), Alexander Kristoff (217), Marcel Kittel (177), Vincenzo Nibali (169), Mark Renshaw (153), Greg Van Avermaet (147), and André Greipel (143).  Everyone else is 38 points behind.  Sagan has enough points to win without needing any more so this category is a duel between Coquard and Kristoff over who finishes 2nd and who finishes 3rd.

With only one Category 4 climb left King of the Mountains is decided.  There are not enough points left to change the results.  It is Rafal Majka (181), Vincenzo Nibali (168), and Joaquim Rodriguez (112).  Everyone else is 23 points behind.

In Team competition it is theoretically possible (but highly unlikely) for Belkin (28:33) to pass AG2R for the win.  Otherwise it is a contest for 3rd with the top contenders being Movistar (1:05:47) and BMC (1:12:25), and Europcar (1:26:50), Sky (1:32:46), and Astana (1:39:06) having a very slim chance indeed.  Everyone else is over 2 hours behind.

For the Young Rider Classification it’s still a 2 way race between Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet (2:17).  Michal Kwiatkowski (1:01:45) is a pretty sure 3rd since he has a 38 minute margin over Tom Dumoulin (1:40:19).

Today’s 129 and 2/3rds mile stage between Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour and Bergerac compared to the 3 Pyrenees stages is almost completely flat though there is a little Category 4 bump, Côte de Monbazillac, at the end which will give the riders a final descent boost.  It’s mostly a rolling rest day before tomorrow’s final Time Trial, but you might see some action from Pinot and Bardet (Young Rider still very much in contention), Coquard and Kristoff (for 2nd and 3rd in Points, the Sprint Checkpoint is 130.5 km in), and otherwise people who need to win a stage for pride as much as anything else.  Nibali should find it easy enough to maintain his margin going into the Time Trial and only disaster or idiocy will prevent him from doing that.

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