The 2016 Tour de France will head to Bern, capital of Switzerland, on Monday for Stage 16 as the riders look forward to their final rest day.
With two gruelling mountain stages awaiting on Wednesday and Thursday, Monday should be a more relaxing affair before the riders take the day off on Tuesday.
The route takes the field from Moirans-en-Montagne 209 kilometres north-east to Bern, home of Trek-Segafredo's Fabian Cancellara.
Continue for a more in-depth look at what to expect, but first here are the scheduling details for the stage:
Date: Monday, July 18
Route: Moirans-en-Montagne to Bern
Stage Profile: Flat
Time: 11:55 a.m. (BST), 12:55 p.m. (local), 7:55 a.m. (ET)
TV Info: ITV 4 (UK), NBC Sports Gold (U.S.)
Per BMC Racing Team, Chris Froome tops the general classification standings after 15 stages:
Stage 16 is largely flat—according to CyclingNews.com, what appears to be a hilly affair is somewhat deceptive as "the roads are nowhere near as lumpy as the profile suggests," while "all the racing takes place within 500m between its highest and lowest points."
That will offer scant opportunity for the Team Sky man to extend his lead or for his rivals to make ground on him, so it should make for a more festive atmosphere with the rest day coming up.
Cancellara in particular has reason to eagerly anticipate the stage. Per Cycling Weekly's Richard Windsor, he said:
Of course I’m quite looking forward to Monday, especially arriving in my home town, it’s pretty special. It’ll be a lifetime experience because I live 4km from the finish line… but I try to be as relaxed as possible.
I think [Monday] will be more emotional because there’s kind of my own expectation but there’s also for sure somehow some expectation from others, but I think that’s normal.
I’m riding on all home grounds and roads, I know all the last kilometres blind. It’s not just a criterium race that finishes in the city it’s the Tour, so it’s going to be a big race for sure.
If it’s a one-day race then it’s different, after a day like today [Stage 15] which we’re gonna have, tomorrow the whole thing will be a totally different scenario. It’s going to be a tough one because it’s tricky, it’s cobbles and it’s not a secret that I’m living in this town.
This year is the 35-year-old's last ride in the Tour before he retires, so it would be a real fairytale ending if he were to win on home soil on Monday.
He's provided us with plenty of memorable moments over the years:
The late cobbled climb to finish the stage will likely put paid to the hopes of the out-and-out sprinters, but Cancellara could be in contention with late attacks set to occur.
So too might green-jersey holder Peter Sagan, who has won two stages of this year's Tour already.
An adept sprinter and more than capable of dealing with hills, he's well-suited to Monday's stage profile. He showed as much during last year's UCI Road World Championships:
Ideally, Monday could come down to a thrilling showdown between the two as they enter the city.
Regardless, Cancellara is sure to receive an incredible reception when he enters the Swiss capital—it should make for a memorable stage wherever he finishes.