Stage 19 of the 2013 Tour de France will once again feature brutal climbs for the peloton to master. One day after doing two trips up Alpe d'Huez, riders will have to tackle two hors categorie climbs in the first half of Friday's 204.5 kilometer trek from Bourg-d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand. The ride gets relatively easier from there, though a category 2 and two category 1 climbs will severely test tired legs late in this year's Tour.
As always, the steep climbs provide plenty of opportunities for riders to break away. A descent finish could help ensure that those breakaways finish ahead of the peloton.
Chris Froome, the current bearer of the yellow jersey, will be hoping for little excitement. He put even more space between himself and second-place Alberto Contador on Thursday, and now leads the Spaniard by more than five minutes.
While Froome is the overwhelming favorite to ride into Paris wearing yellow, the competition for the last two spots on the final podium remains tight. Nairo Quintana moved into third place on the general classification, just 21 second behind Contador, with a fourth-place finish Thursday. Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff teammate Roman Kreuziger is in fourth place overall, 12 seconds behind Quintana, and Joaquim Rodriguez is in fifth place, 14 seconds behind Kreuziger.
Look for riders to make a run at the polka-dot king of the mountains jersey technically held currently by Froome, as well. Via SB Nation cycling blog Podium Cafe:
With the lumpy parcours and no mountaintop finish, it seems a good day for a break to stick, especially if the peloton and its collective tired legs decide to take it easy up the first two climbs. There are boatloads of mountains points on the line, maybe enough to entice Pierre Rolland into redoubling his search for garish polka dotted shorts?
Live coverage of Stage 19 will begin at 8 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. As always, those stuck to their laptops can watch online at the NBCSN website, but they will have to pay a fee.
Stage 19 map and profile:
Maps via Podium Cafe.