The penultimate Alpine stage took place on yet another beautiful day. Cyclists have been lucky with mountain weather! The hors catégorie climb to the 2067-m (1.284-mi) peak of Col de la Croix de Fer was more challenging than I initially thought. The mountain not only tamed the Tour de France cyclists but our model! But as tough as the ascent turned out to be, the scenery was still lovely (click on the image for a larger view).
France's Pierre Rolland was amazing today. He led the charge up the monster climb and took the most points at the summit (click on the image for a larger view).
Nibali caught Rolland soon afterwards and appeared to get Rolland to work with him on the descent. The two alternated drafting positions and fared well on the tricky turns. I thought Nibali might even concede the stage win as long as Rolland would help him move up in the overall standings. Rolland tried to stay with Nibabli, but with 16 km (9.9 mi) left, Rolland cracked on the climb toward Le Corbier, and the Shark took off alone. Nibali was thrilled to win the stage (click on the image for a larger view).
Nibali looked like the Nibali of last year's Tour de France on the final climb. As I noted in yesterday's post, our prediction was a bit bold. The Alps were simply tougher than we thought. Reality and our prediction are compared below.
- Stage 19: 4h 22' 53" (actual), 4h 03' 33" (prediction), 19' 20" fast (-7.35% error)
- Stage 19: 8.749 m/s (31.50 kph or 19.57 mph)
- Stage 20: 3h 15' 50" (prediction)
I've been waiting all month for the Alpe d'Huez climb. Tomorrow should be fun!