Video Preview: Tour de France 2012 Stage 16 - Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon 197 km (high mountains)
Is this the stage for Nibali? Geraint Thomas thinks it could be & so does IG Sigma's Dan Lloyd who rides the three main climbs and talks tactics and the perils of the rest day
The stage of the 2010 Tour that finished in Pau began in Bagnères-de-Luchon, and today the peloton undertakes the journey in reverse, with a route that features some of the Pyrenees’ heavyweight climbs – the Col d’Aubisque, the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d’Aspin, and the Col de Peyresourde. It’s a day for attacks from the start, and if a GC contender manages to get away – as Andy Schleck did on the Galibier stage last year, helped by Leopard Trek team mates who had got into the early move – there could be some frantic chasing.
Geraint Thomas slipped into the break and overcame a couple of near-chutes last year to ride up the Tourmalet on his own at the head of the race. Unfortunately, no-one had told him about the €5,000 Souvenir Jacques Goddet prize on offer for the first man over the summit and he was caught and passed by FDJ’s Jeremy Roy – the Team Sky rider, who reflected afterwards that “you could buy a lot of beer” with that amount of money, did have the consolation of taking the day’s combativity prize, however.
The race went up the Tourmalet twice in 2010 in different stages and from different directions, the second time was the final mountain stage of the race and Dan Lloyd then of the Cervelo Test Team rode in the gruppetto. He may not be a pure climber but in his latest video for IG markets, recceing the key stages of this year's race he certainly doesn't hang about getting up those big climbs, nor riding that final descent in the rain in to Bagnères. Dan discussces race tactics and identifies possible key points in the stage where attacks may occur. He also talks about the perils of the rest day and how it can affect some riders and highlights another factor that may play a part - the changeable nature of Pyrenean weather.
Geraint Thomas says: I think this will be more of a day where someone like Vincenzo Nibali will have a go, the final descent would seem to be made for him. If Nibali doesn't make the move it could be some opportunist, maybe someone who is already a couple of minutes further back could have an attack – this would be the day to do it. It could be a day for a breakaway to go out, but it could come back – it all depends how the racing behind goes. It will be a interesting day, a lot of things could change. If there’s some teams that haven’t done much, they’ll want to get in the break, and I’m sure the French guys will want some more exposure.
To find out more about the stages in this year's race check out our full Tour de France Preview with analysis of every stage and tips from Team Sky's Geraint Thomas
Fantasy Cycling Tour de France Stage 16 transfer window closes at 10.05 UK time