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Tour De France Stage 16

Tour De France Stage 16

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Next ArticleCycling ExaminerTour de France stage 16 preview: More mountains on the horizon July 19, 1:34 PM Comment RSS Email Print VERBIER, Switzerland — The second and final rest day of the Tour de France is scheduled Monday in Switzerland.

But it won't last long enough.The 16th stage Tuesday will be a Swiss-Italy-France ordeal, a 160-kilometer (99.4-mile) trek from Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

And it will include the second hors categorie (the most difficult) climb of the race.The Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard peaks only 25 miles into the stage at an elevation of 8,114 feet — the highest point of this year's Tour.

Its final three miles have an average grade of 6.2 percent but some sections are as steep as 10 percent.How will the remaining 162 riders from the starting field of 180 react to new race leader Alberto Contador?Will his race lead of 1:36 over Lance Armstrong remain the same for two more stages until the stage 18 time trial in Annecy?Or will riders still seeking top overall finishes attack despite the hors categorie climb early in the stage?If there's a positive scenario, it's the climb's early position into the stage.

Once the summit is reached, the cyclists can recover in a long descent.

But the stage will be far from complete.About 45 miles into the stage, the second climb will start steadily.

It will be a category 1 climb to Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard.

It's not a steep as the day's first effort, but it peaks about 20 miles from the finish and will likely further split the field.The finishing city holds a unique place in Tour de France history.

It's only hosted a stage twice, in 1939 and 1996, both individual time trials.

The latter occasion occurred the day after Miguel Indurain of Spain lost nearly four minutes on a climb to Les Arcs, France.

He rode the time trial without any chance for a sixth consecutive title.

Author: James RaiaJames Raia is a National Examiner.

You can see James's articles on James's Home Page.

My Bio Subscribe to EmailAdd James to Favorite Examiners Find out more about James: James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For Dummies.

He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online publications and is also the Monterey Peninsula Examiner.

A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike -- to nearby coffeehouses.

E-mail: [email protected]

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