Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc: The Hills are Alive

Only a few weeks ago, the highest Alpine roads were just becoming cleared of snow and now, vulcanized rubber will meet tarmac onto some of the most scenic and one of the most beautiful areas of France, Savoie. It is planted inside of the mantle of Europe with hills and mountain dotting the surrounding horizon while small ponds add substance to a region that produces some fabulous wine, Beaufort cheese and fruit.

The city of Saint-Michel de Maurienne, the launch point for the race as well as the site of the mid-race time trial.
Just 527 kilometers in length, the race itself gains over 11,500 meters in elevation over 5 stages, one of which is only a 7.5 kilometer time trial. There are some just a few giant climbs included in this race but there is an untouched gem in the climb to La Féclaz.

Stage 1 will most likely sort some of the wheat from the chaff but will most likely not be very consequential in terms of GC unless a small group gets away. There could be separation at the end as there is an uncategorized climb that kicks up a few kilometers before the downhill finish into Cruseilles.

Stage 2 will most likely form the GC race as it will basically be a race to Thoiry, where they do a small little loop before continuing up to the ski station at La Féclaz, which overlooks Chambery. Steep gradients mark the final climb with steady ramps of ~9% while there are pieces that briefly touch 13 to 14%. It is a beast of a climb that pure climbers will looking forward too.

Stage 3 is a bit like stage 1 in that is has a good amount of climbing but will most likely not play too much of a factor with GC, especially with an afternoon time trial coming up. From Chambery, the race rides up the valley and goes steadily upwards from Saint-Michel de Maurienne to the peak at Aussois before descending down to the finish.

A short time trial on stage 4 in the afternoon right after stage 3 is a short test but on a rolling course, a non-pure climber could help themselves by taking some time out of the featherweights.

The final climb will probably confirm or deny those that showed up on stage 2. Four climbs are on the docket including the big momma, the Col de la Colombiere, which will be one of the biggest tests of the race. Once summiting the climb, it is a steep descent down to Cluses for the finish.

The stages are short and sweet to keep the action tight, which is something I agree with as mountain stage races can become blowouts fast.


Here is a full list of the riders for the race from directvelo and it is a who's who list of young climbers and continental journeymen.

-Jesus Del Pino leads Burgos BH in a race that they have tried to make their own over the years but haven't been able to take a win.

-Chambery CF come in with a loaded team with Paret-Peintre, Cosnefroy, Rochas, Peters, and Pigeon that could definitely land a person on the podium.

-Direct Energie & Fortuneo come with their B-teams to this race but they Fortuneo look like they could get a podium contender with Frederic Brun, Brice Feillu and Pierre-Luc Perichon.

-Roubaix-Lille has Antomarchi, who podiumed here last year, while Rabobank have newly signed with Giant-Alpecin rider Lennard Hofstede.

-Axeon bring a stus team headlined by Tao Geoghegan Hart, Ruben Guerreiro and Adrien Costa. Costa's form is a mystery as he dropped out of the Zavod Miru Nations Cup so I don't know if he will be up to going for a stage race overall at this point but Geoghegan Hart and Guerreiro are good back ups.

-Doesn't seem like Klein Constantia have a GC threat but Schlegel and Narvaez probably will like this terrain to play around a bit. Same for Avanti but Australian U23 RR champ Chris Hamilton might try to go for a top 10 on GC or go for a stage result.

-Leo Vincent won the final stage here last year but he seems to be more focused on GC this year so he might try to go for a top 10 overall for CC Etupes but he does like a good solo attack.

-Steff Cras & Bjorg Lambrecht take the reins for Lotto-Soudal again here in the mountains. Lambrecht has taken better overall results this year but they should finish fairly close to one another inside the top 10 of GC.

-Kilian Frankiny seems to wait to go for a big result until hitting a hilly/mountainous stage race so he could be a good shot for a top 5 overall if he is firing on all cylinders.

-From the French amateur teams, look for Lucas Papillon and Julien Liponne, who are both top 10 contenders overall.

Espoirs Central Podium Pick for Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc

1. Chris Anker Sørensen
2. Bjorg Lambrecht
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart

1 comment:

  1. Nice write-up :) Just a small correction:

    "Jesus Del Pino Burgos BH in a race that they have tried to make their own over the years but haven't been able to take a win."

    They won the overall last year with David Belda.