Tour de France 2015 Stage 16 preview: Bourg-de-Peage - Gap, 201 km

The final transition stage of the 2015 Tour describes a steadily-rising line from not far above sea level at the start in Bourg de Péage, to the finish in Gap, in the foothills of the Alps, at 745m altitude. The steady drag upwards over 201 kilometres is interrupted for a pair of second-category climbs, one of which will be of interest only to the break of the day, but the other of which could play a crucial part in the Tour.

The Col de Manse is a relatively innocuous climb, nine kilometres long, which is formed of a junction of mountain roads just above Gap. It’s a selective climb, but generally anybody in the top 15 or 20 of the Tour wouldn’t normally expect to be dropped too badly on it. However, the descent is a different story. It’s a high speed drop down into Gap, with some technical sections which are bad in the dry and horrific in the wet. It’s where Alberto Contador crashed in front of Chris Froome during the 2013 Tour, while trying to put pressure on the British rider. It’s also where Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans rode away from Andy Schleck during the 2011 Tour – the Australian put 1-09 into Schleck, two thirds of his final winning advantage in Paris. There won’t be any holding back on both the climb and the descent in 2015 – the rest day comes next, and it’s the ideal place to bank a little time before the four hard days in the Alps.

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