Tour de France 2020 – Preview and map of stage 20

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Stage 20 – Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles – 36.2km – Saturday, September 19

Over the years, the organizers of the Tour de France have tinkered with the individual time trial element of the race. In addition to steadily reducing the number of kilometers traveled by solo riders against the clock, they have adjusted whether TT stages arrive early, in the middle or at the end of the race, and have come up with unusual routes that are neither routes. flat for TT specialists, nor strictly uphill. tests that favor climbers.

The TT on Saturday is perhaps the best example of this. It’s relatively long by modern Tour TT standards, at 36.2 km, but it’s the only TT in this year’s race. It starts with 30 km of flat to slightly hilly terrain, with some tricky turns that will challenge the handling skills of riders who choose TT bikes, which have a different geometry and positioning than road bikes.

But the real test is the last 6.2 km, which rises 500 meters until the finish at the top of the climb of the Planche des Belles Filles. You might remember this one: He has become a Tour favorite since his first appearance in 2012, when four-time Tour winner Chris Froome first made his talent known with a victory. step. It has been featured four more times since, most recently last year.

But the climb in the Vosges has never been a TT finish, and its inclusion here makes the course quite difficult. Its moderate overall difficulty (average slope of 8.5%) is belied by several steeper sections which go up and then decrease, culminating with a section of 20% just at the finish. If you’ve looked last year you might notice that the finish was different then a mile down the road to the summit. Saturday’s finish is the original, inferior finish used on previous tours, but it’s still a punch in the guts.

The challenge for the runners for the whole route but especially the climb is an appropriate pace. Go out too fast on the flat part and you risk exploding on the climb and wasting time. But play it too conservatively and you won’t be able to recoup wasted seconds (or minutes) for runners who measure their effort more effectively.

But the suitors have three tools to use. The first is simply their intimate knowledge of their form. Runners – and their trainers – know their power curve or how much power they can produce over a time range of one second to 60 minutes. Armed with this information, along with knowledge of other aspects such as aerodynamic drag and course profile, they will use software to create sophisticated stimulation models to follow on race day. The second is their power meters and computer head units, which will give them instant feedback on how well they are carrying out this plan. Last: intel teammate. Since the riders start one at a time, each team will see the riders start earlier in the day to try to set breakthrough times and report on the effectiveness of their pace strategy on the actual course, with time for them. adjustments before a team leader who is high. on GC will take the start.

There’s a ton of precision out there, and teams have the tools to create demanding models that offer the best chance for success. But the keys are whether the data in the model is good and whether the pilot can perform, which is easier said than done when racing at the limit of physical ability. In the heat of the moment, will runners be disciplined to keep up with their pace goals? If they can’t, how do they react and improvise? And are there any errors in the modeling that mean the strategy is flawed? Everything will be played out on the road.

Runners to watch

Usually, two types of riders go all out in TTs: overall contenders looking to devote time to their rivals and TT specialists. This course narrows that down to one type: GC guys. TT specialists are usually bigger riders who can put in a lot of power, but the climb at Les Belles Filles is steep enough and long enough that it is not part of the mix. So it’s really a battle of the top 10 riders in the overall standings to try and rearrange the standings as best they can. The top three may be pretty sure of the final podium in Paris, but the order could eventually reverse some, with Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez just 30 seconds behind second place Tadej Pogačar (United Arab Emirates). And places 4-6 are separated by only 1:13 between them, so expect a fierce fight between Mikel Landa of Bahrain-McLaren and Enric Mas of Movistar as they attempt to overtake Richie Porte from Trek-Segafredo, himself trying for his best lap. to finish.

There is another driver in the mix to watch out for: Richard Carapaz from INEOS-Grenadiers, because there is a maximum of 10 KoM points at the top of the climb. He has a slim lead in the KoM competition with a total of 74 points, but in second and third places there are the top two in the general classification: Pogačar, second place, with 72 points, and yellow jersey Primož Roglič (Jumbo- Visma) at 67 So there is a race in a race, as the officials will time the climb independently of the general TT, with the fastest on the climb getting the first points. Pogačar and Roglič will try to win the stage and save time on each other, so expect maximum climb speeds from them even if they don’t aim for the KoM jersey. But Carapaz is 17th overall and has nothing to gain or lose by running the entire course thoroughly. He will likely return to the flat rolling section and then go full throttle up the climb in an attempt to win the KoM, a sort of consolation prize for his side, who saw their Tour title defense vanish when Egan Bernal had back problems and dropped out.

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When to watch

In the TT riders start in reverse order of the overall classification, so the top 20, including Carapaz and the favorites, will go last. The top 10 will go two minutes apart, starting at 10:45 a.m. EDT, with the fastest registering just under 40 minutes from start to finish. If you watch before 11 a.m. you will catch all the important stocks.

Because the first 75 percent of the course is so different from the finish, the choice of gear will be a fun element for the gear lovers among us to watch out for. Some riders will opt for aero-style road bikes equipped with handlebar extensions and aero wheels for the full course. Others may choose a more daring strategy of starting on a TT-specific machine to optimize aerodynamics for the flattest section, then perform a bike change at the base of the Belles Filles to an ultralight climbing machine. . The swap will cost 10 to 15 seconds, but teams can calculate the weight savings on the climb to be worth it.

How to watch the Tour de France

Note, generally, we find that TT results are interesting, the breed itself sometimes less; watching the runners go one by one can feel dry and clinical unless you’re a die-hard fan. At this point in the race, few runners really have much to run; they just watch the clock to finish in the allotted time. And so far, TV coverage has not evolved to provide the kind of constant live data that puts the GC battle in context. So it’s a great day for some action on the second screen.

On a computer or tablet, view the live text coverage that gives you the split time intervals. This will tell you which runners are having a good pace, who got out too fast, and who is having a bad day. Two great options are the Live Center du Tour, and Professional cycling statistics: The live coverage link is at the top right of the home page. Both will have a spreadsheet of split times and other vital information that will give you a better idea of ​​what’s really going on on the road.

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