Belgium’s Wout Van Aert, left, rides in the breakaway group during the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 191.3 kilometers (118.9 miles) with start in Ceret, France, and finish in Andorra-la-Vella, Andorra, Sunday, July 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
- Stage 16 of the 2021 Tour de France (Tuesday, July 13) may lead to a breakaway winner
- The 169 kilometers between Pas de la Case and Saint-Gaudens includes three decent climbing challenges
- Can anybody make a big move before the final two mountains stages of the Tour?
The final week of the Tour de France begins on Tuesday with a bumpy afternoon that may lead to a successful breakaway.
While an attack on Tadej Pogacar’s lead could occur on Stage 16, there will certainly be efforts to crack him on Stages 17 and 18, the last two days in the mountains. The final three days of the Tour this year feature two flat stages, designed for sprinters, and an Individual Time Trial.
On Sunday’s dangerous mountain stage, Pogacar responded with relative ease to a couple of attacks. The GC race was largely unchanged as American Sepp Kuss, part of the breakaway, reached the final summit first, and extended his lead on the descent to win his first ever stage.
On a day that is neither hardcore climbing nor sprint, Wout Van Aert (+550) is the favorite to win Stage 16 when riders get rolling Tuesday at 7:30 am ET. Who is most likely to be in a breakaway and emerge victorious?
Tour de France Stage 16 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Wout Van Aert||+550||+160|
|Magnus Cort Nielsen||+2200||+600|
Odds as of July 11th.
Before Monday’s final pause in the Tour, on Sunday there were three noteworthy tidbits. The win for Kuss was the first for an American at the Tour de France since Tyler Farrar in 2011. Kuss, who grew up in Colorado but lives and trains in Andorra, credited his Jumbo-Visma teammate van Aert with helping to ensure his victory. Meanwhile, Guillaume Martin, who moved into second place with a crafty ride on Stage 14 lost nearly nine minutes and is now in ninth place. Finally, and most consequentially, Pogacar had a relatively easy day, fending off only a half-hearted challenge or two, and getting another step closer to defending the yellow jersey.
Pogacar starts the final week of racing with a 5:18 lead over Rigoberto Uran. Jonas Vingegaard is in third place, 5:32 behind Pogacar. Just a second behind Vingegaard is Richard Carapaz. Ben O’Connor is 5:58 off the pace, in fifth position.
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The reason a breakaway seems likely on Tuesday is that, after three climbs, the end of the route is flat with a small uphill near the finish.
Things start off downhill on Stage 16 with the Category 2 Col de Port about a third of the way through the course. It is 17 kilometres long with a 4.6% gradient. About 100 km through the day riders tackle the Col de la Core, a 14 kilometer test at 6.3%. The most difficult climb is the Col de Portet d’Aspet. It comes with just over 30 km left and is a 5.4 kilometres climb at 7.1%. The final 1.4 kilometres tilt up at just under 10%. There is a very short Cat 4 climb in the final 10 km before the downhill finale.
Who will be in the break, and make a successful move within it? Let’s consider several possibilities.
Van Aert has carved out an incredibly useful niche. He is viable to win any sort of stage, can be a squads leader or domestique, and is a great teammate willing to do whatever he is asked.
The role for Van Aert shifted this year after Primoz Roglic got injured early on, and abandoned on Stage 8. Jumbo–Visma’s game plan entering the race was to support Roglic as he attempted to turn the tables on Pogacar after finishing second in 2020. When Roglic exited, Van Aert became more prominent in trying to win stages, both in the mountains and sprints. He won Stage 11 and took the Combativity Award on Stage 15. He has won four career individual stages.
Julian Alaphilippe profiles very similarly to Van Aert. He won the initial stage this year, and has six career daily victories at the Tour. He won the Mountains Classification in 2018, but probably is better in hybrid stages, like he faces on Tuesday, than either pure climbing or sprints.
When Alaphilippe lost more than 10 minutes on Stage 11 any remote GC hopes he had were gone. While having a bad day is frustrating, it frees him up to pursue individual stages. The GC won’t concern themselves with him taking part in a breakaway, and he is very dangerous on the attack.
In much the same way that Kuss took Sunday’s stage, Matej Mohoric won Stage 7 as a significant longshot. A Slovenian, like Pogacar and Roglic, he has proven adapt in climbing and on hybrid stages.
Mohoric took the National Road Championships this year and won the points title at the Tour of Slovenia.
Riding in his second Tour de France, Sergio Higuita is seeking his first stage victory. He won a stage at the Vuelta a España in his only try.
At the age of 23, the arrow is pointing up for the Columbian. He finished third on Stage 14 this year and is pretty clearly in good form. He’ll be in the breakaway in coming days, and is not a threat to the GC if he tries to attack.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.