Le Tour 2019 - Stage 17


With today’s jaunt around Gap, with a shortish climb and descent prior to the finish, and with three huge days coming up in the Alps to settle the Tour, it was always likely that today was going to be a day for the breakaway. And it was, with a huge gap over the maillot jaune peloton. Yesterday, I thought that maybe Alaphilippe may attempt a breakaway, as this sort of stage would have (previously) suited him… I was wrong! The biggest issue for Alaphilippe today, appeared to be losing his sunglasses!!

A break went away early in the first hour of the stage, and eventually, just prior to the final climb Matteo Trentin took a flyer and stayed away to the end for a superb win.

Yesterday, and today, the riders have had to endure extremely hot weather — called the canicule in French (heatwave), and it’s extremely important to maintain fluid intake as I mentioned yesterday. It’s also worth noting, that contrary to popular opinion you expend more energy at a given power output in the heat than you do at the same power output in cooler weather. This is extremely important for all the riders to consider. However, for Alaphilippe, who has already mentioned that he feels spent - it’s extremely crucial that the rider ensure they have sufficient dietary carbohydrates in their diet. By this point they’ll be needing to consume 12g of carbs per kg of body mass per day. That’s a huge volume (and somewhat difficult to consume — yeah, I know everyone says it’d be easy to eat like a Tour rider but it really isn’t).

Tomorrow, the fight for the win starts in earnest again after taking a short break after the Pyrenees. Alaphilippe, Pinot, Thomas, Bernal, Kruijswijk, and Buchmann, seem the most likely people to win. Pinot looks most likely that he’ll have to attack and gain some ground, while Alaphilippe will, I think, just aim to mark Thomas. Given Alaphilippe’s lack of GC experience and a team not built for a GC battle, he’s done an amazing job thus far. How far can he go?

Richard Stern