After the riders were able to indulge in what will be the final rest day of this year’s Tour de France, thoughts will begin to turn to Paris and the final stage in front of the Arc De Triomphe in five days' time.
Stage 16 will mark the beginning of the final stint of the Tour and the riders will face a huge challenge as they make the 237km trek between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon. This particular route is the longest of the entire race, and those taking part will face an uneven route that is rife with steep climbs in the latter stages.
But after a rest day, the riders should be refreshed and ready for the tricky test that awaits them at this late stage of the event.
Here’s all the information you need on where to catch the action, as the chasing pack look to make inroads into tour leader Vincenzo Nibali’s substantial lead. We’ll also take a look at the updated standings ahead of Stage 16 and which rider is best placed to triumph on the lengthy route into Bagneres-de-Luchon.
Stage 16 Route - Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon
The longest stage of the entire tour awaits the riders following their rest day and looking at the route you can see why the organisers saw fit to give the competitors some recuperation time ahead of this particular section.
Already they’ve had to negotiate 48 climbs, as noted here by the Tour’s official Twitter account:
The first parts of this stage are relatively flat, although a few inclines will test the riders early on. But the final 100km of this 237km stage will be devilishly testing, with some rapid climbs and swift, technical descents set to give the riders taking part a thorough test of their capabilities.
Just to cap off what already looks like a perilously difficult stage, there's a summit to tackle of 1,755m at Port de Bales just 21km from the finish. Whoever can position themselves most astutely following that particular rise will be in a marvellous position to take the stage win, provided they can cope with the winding downward gradients.
Live Stream Details
|Stage 16 TV and Stream Details|
|ITV4 / NBCSN||2 p.m. BST / 9 p.m. ET||ITV Player / NBC Sports' Live Extra|
Here's how the leaderboards look as the riders battle it out for the green and yellow jerseys, as well as the polka dot jersey. The full classifications can be found at LeTour.com:
|Tour de France: Standings After Stage 15 (Yellow Jersey)|
|5||Tejay van Garderen||United States||BMC Racing||+5:49|
|8||Leopold Konig||Czech Republic||NetApp||+9:32|
|9||Laurens ten Dam||Netherlands||Belkin||+10:01|
Nibali holds a significant lead over Alejandro Valverde and another strong performance on Stage 16 could put the Italian well clear of his Spanish rival. Valverde has looked in fine fettle throughout the tour, but there were signs in the previous two stages that he was beginning to feel the effects of 15 stages.
The rest day will have allowed him some time to recover from the draining sections up in the Alps, but the 237km distance could see him struggle to make any real inroads into Nibali’s lead. Instead, he could be doing his utmost to stave off the challenge from Romain Bardet, who trails Valverde by a meagre 13 seconds in third place overall.
|Tour de France: Standings After Stage 15 (Green Jersey)|
|2||Bryan Coquard||France||Team Europcar||226|
|3||Alexander Kristoff||Norway||Team Katusha||217|
|4||Marcel Kittel||Germany||Team Giant-Shimano||177|
|5||Mark Renshaw||Australia||Omega Pharma-Quick Step||153|
The race for the green jersey is also being dominated by one man, with Cannondale’s Peter Sagan leading the way in that particular category.
Sagan has been extremely consistent throughout the Tour, and it’ll take a superhuman effort from a competitor or a substantial collapse from the Slovakian rider if the maillot vert is to end up with anyone else come the conclusion of the competition.
Of all the enthralling stages we’ve had so far in this year’s showpiece, this one is arguably the most difficult one to call. It’s hugely difficult to anticipate how certain riders will react after a rest day, and as such, the field is especially open.
But the fact that this particular stage offers a host of varied challenges for the riders, makes it even more unpredictable.
In keeping with that, the best bet would be to back the most rounded rider in the Tour, which has been Nibali. The Italian has already showcased throughout the event that he can win stages using a host of different skills and he's shown there are not many riders who’ll be able to stick with him over the sharp late inclines.
The combination of a relatively easy ride during Stage 15 and the subsequent rest day should make for a refocused and well energised Nibali. Expect him to take the stage win and in doing so, extend his lead to an almost insurmountable margin with just five stages remaining.