a bit of respite for the peloton with the sprinters returning to grace? The 18th stage in questions

The day after a grueling 17th stage, the Tour route takes a break on Thursday, between Moûtiers and Bourg-en-Bresse.

To the fond memories of sprinters. After seven consecutive stages that have put them to the test, in the mountains or on steep roads, the fastest riders in the peloton come back to life during the 18th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday 20 July between Moûtiers and Bourg-en-Bresse. Four days before arriving on the Champs-Elysées, it’s time for dress rehearsals.

What is the profile?

No more long hard climbs, return to a flatter profile on Thursday. With 184.9 kilometers to go between Moûtiers and Bourg-en-Bresse, only two small difficulties need to be listed. The Chambéry-le-Haut coast (1.6 km at 4.1%) at kilometer 62 and the Boissieu coast (2.4 km at 4.7%) at kilometer 105.

Sprinters will be able to stretch their legs and enjoy a practice run at kilometer 132, with an intermediate sprint to go, in Saint-Rambert-en-Bugey. On paper, a fairly peaceful stage to make the crossroads between the Alps and the Vosges. The arrival in Bourg-en-Bresse offers a somewhat tortuous finish, nervousness must not pollute the last kilometres.

The profile of the 18th stage of the 2023 Tour de France, between Moûtiers and Bourg-en-Bresse (184.9km).  (ASO)

Who are the favourites?

Jasper Philipsen of course! Above the fray since the start of the Tour and already winner of a massive four out of five finishes, the Belgian of the team Alpecin-Deceuninck doesn’t seem to have an opponent to match this year. Trained or not, the green-shirted player in the points standings has been impressing since he left Bilbao. More at ease than many sprinters in the mountains, there he will certainly leave fewer feathers than others.

The only man to have beaten the sprint ogre in this edition of the Grande Boucle, Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), may have left energy during the time trial, which he played fully finishing in 9th place. Also, without a false flat as he approaches the line, it’s hard to imagine him beating Jasper Philipsen on a regular basis.

Among the other sprinters, Caleb Ewan, Mark Cavendish, Phil Bauhaus and Fabio Jakobsen are gone after their retirement. There is still Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco Alula) or even Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), among the most regular on all the grouped arrivals. Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) or maybe even Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) also have their say.

What are the hours?

13:00: start of the broadcast on France 3 e france.tv
1.05pm: fictitious departure from Moûtiers
1.35pm: actual departure (change to France 2 at 3.00pm)
5.31pm: Expected arrival (at an average of 47km/h) in Bourg-en-Bresse

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