Stage 13: Pau time trial
Date: July 19, 2019
Distance: 27.2 km
Stage type: Individual time-trial
This stage falls on the centenary of the yellow jersey's introduction to the Tour, which occurred on the morning of the Grenoble to Geneva stage of the 1919 race. It was worn by France's Eugène Christophe, who held it until his forks broke on the penultimate stage, preventing him taking the elusive Tour victory for which he finally seemed to be destined.
Although it's not unusual for a time trial to feature in the middle of the Tour, it's far rarer for this to be the only individual test in the race and for it to come before all of the major mountain stages. Its length and profile is similar to the TT at Barbentane during Paris-Nice, which was won by Simon Yates. Ineos's Michal Kwiatkowski and Egan Bernal finished within 15 seconds of the Briton, while Ag2r's Romain Bardet was another minute in arrears, but very happy with his performance with a view to this test in Pau.
Although the Frenchman's deficit that day was quite large, he will be optimistic that he can limit his losses to a similar extent or perhaps even a little more over a course that suits his strength as a climber. Rolling from the start, the route kicks up after 5km to reach Mazères-Lezons, rises again just before the mid-point, and then once more and quite sharply on the Côte d'Esquillot before rolling through the Jurançon vineyards to return to Pau. In short, the specialist climbers like Bardet shouldn't be completely outclassed and distanced in the overall standings.
World time trial champion Rohan Dennis should start as favourite. Winner of three out of four time trials at Grand Tours last year, the Australian has been selected by his Bahrain team that has never previously won a Tour stage with this test specifically in mind. Among the GC riders who will be looking to gain time on their rivals are the Ineos trio of Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Bernal. Froome and Thomas are potential winners, but recent history suggests that Tom Dumoulin has the edge on both of the British riders. The Dutchman will certainly be depending on making some significant gains before the two summit finishes that lie immediately ahead.
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