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The Col du Galibier was the first challenge of the day
Improved weather no threat to stage 18 itinerary
Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has confirmed that the race's queen stage to the Galibier, scheduled for Thursday, will take place as planned. Last week-end, snowfall on top of the historic climb jeopardized the summit finish, and Tuesday's cold and rainy weather conditions further spurred rumours that organiser ASO might truncate the finale.
"If the stage would have been scheduled for July 19, we might not have seen the finish. But tomorrow, the weather will be fine," Prudhomme was happy to announce in Pinerolo today. "The sun will be out, there might be a few clouds on top of the Galibier but it'll have nothing to do with what we have seen in recent days."
Indeed, summery temperatures and blue skies returned on the Tour riders as they came out of the mountains into Pinerolo, where the thermometers indicated 27 degrees Celsius.
Nevertheless, the crisp air of the mountains will not heat up a lot at altitude.
"There will be big differences in temperature," Prudhomme added. "Here, in the Piemonte plain, it's 26 degrees, and on top of the passes, it will be 5 degrees. We will have to live with that tomorrow and the next days."
The race director looked forward to what many see as the most decisive stage in this year's Tour. "It's going to be a phenomenal Alpine trilogy. The Col Agnel has never been raced in the Tour from this side, and it's 2,700 meters high. To me, it's the most difficult climb of the Tour. Then, the Izoard, a legendary climb that has seen many great champions such as Coppi, Bobet, Merckx, Thévenet...
"To finish it off, the first summit finish at great altitude at 2,645m - I think there will be a great battle on tomorrow."