Before the storm, something of a calm, though this stage will be ridden out in utterly blistering heat. No matter how you cut it, riding out in temperatures of 34 degrees in the shade is not the most ideal preparation for three days in the high mountains. The Alps approach, where the destiny of flagging Julian Alaphilippe will be decided. And in truth, if France want to end that 34-year drought, then Thibaut Pinot looks the best hope. A lack of wind means that today’s stage is unlikely to produce the echelons that pegged Pinot back on the tenth stage, and so none of the favourites are likely to haul in time.
So, to the sprinters, who have feasted on only the slimmest of pickings this year. Were the likes of Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani, Dylan Groenewegen, Caleb Ewan and Alexander Kristoff able to rest up on Monday?
William Fotheringham’s stage 16 guide
It’s six days since the last sprint stage and much will depend on how the heavier brethren have survived the Pyrenees, which sprinters are still there and which of their lead-out men. Following the rest day, a second day’s respite for the overall contenders, as long as the weather plays ball and there is no wind or rain. This stage is out and home rather than the usual place to place so the changes of direction could make for an gruesome day if there is a strong northerly, as we saw in this area in 2016. In such conditions one favourite thrives: Geraint Thomas.