Second Resting Day
The riders had a well deserved rest on Monday but they don’t think about resigning to the overwhelming power of Christopher Froome.
Alberto Contador admits that Froome is in good shape and that it will be difficult to beat him on the climbs. The cunning Spaniard however, thinks that there are always tactical possibilities and he is still in the race for the first spot. “Position number two as well as position number ten don’t count, I go for number one.”
Laurens ten Dam agrees with Contador. Not that he aims for the number one spot, but he says that everything can happen in the Tour. “Now we are expecting some bad weather in the Alps, again something that nobody can predict and everybody has to deal with. The Tour is not decided yet.”
Others have changed their plans since the start. Team boss Alejandro Valverde came to the Tour de France for a position at the podium in Paris. He saw his dreams go up in smoke but on the resting day he made new plans for the last week. He is going to help his young colleague Nairo Quintana to get higher up in the general classification and he is aiming for one victory, preferably the win on the Alpe d’Huez.
Today, during stage 16, the weather will be fine at the start but when reaching Gap the chances of rain increase. On Wednesday more rain is expected and on Thursday, when the Alpe d’Huez is going to be climbed twice, heavy rain is forecasted.
“We will not immediately expect wet snow or things like that, but after two weeks of 30 to 35 degrees, climbing those big mountains at 12 degrees under very wet conditions is something the riders have to adjust to. Some can do that better than others,” says a spokesman of the Belkin team.
After all the doping scandals of the last years, a lot of speculations are done on the top condition of Chris Froome. Nobody believes anybody, seems to be the trend. No matter how many times Chris Froome says that he is clean, there will always be cynical voices heard.
On the other hand are the teams trying to do their best to forget doping and the bad image which doping has on their sport.
Alberto Contador is very clear on his rival Froome. “There is no reason to doubt about Froome,” he insisted at his rest-day press conference in Avignon. “He is a professional rider who has been performing at a really high level all year, and I think that his results are the fruits of the work he puts in and nothing else. I fully believe that he is clean. That is why the doping controls are there every day, isn’t it?”
The stage of today, 168km from Vaison-La-Romain to Gap, is a short one but nevertheless a tricky one. With 21 km to go, the riders face the last climb of the day, Col de Manse. This category 2 climb is 9.5 km long and has an average gradient of 5.2 %. The ascent to Gap is not very steep but the descent is very difficult.