• Gateway to the Alps... Stage 16 brings the peloton to Gap. (AFP)Source: AFP
Mind the Gap... The last two winners in Gap were or became road world champion. Will history repeat itself today at the gateway to the Alps?
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20 Jul 2015 - 3:08 PM  UPDATED 20 Jul 2015 - 3:17 PM

The last - and only - time the Tour visited Bourg-de-Péage, Joaquim Rodríguez won a medium mountain stage that finished in Mende (the previous day's start town); in the 2010 edition, Purito summoned his trademark uphill finishing speed on the Col de la Croix Neuve to best Alberto Contador and Alexander Vinokourov.

That day, El Pistolero gained 10 seconds on Andy Schleck, narrowing his GC deficit to 31 seconds to the erstwhile maillot jaune. Which, three days later on the road to Bagnères-de-Luchon, Contador inherited courtesy of a highly controversial scenario on the Port de Balès journalists (yes, those pesky journalists...) later dubbed 'Chain-gate'. Of course, it was all made irrelevant 20 months later when Bertie effectively lost the Tour in the courts and Schleck was deemed its rightful champion.

We're unlikely to see any such tomfoolery here - though given this is the Tour and the Tour being the Tour, we won't rule it out, either.

"Plenty of guys can get themselves in the breakaway - but if you're tired or not a super climber, you've probably found yourself in the wrong break." - Matt White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director

More likely, this transitional stage that arrives at the gateway to the Alps and the day before the second and final rest day will witness a successful breakaway or much reduced bunch gallop. And if the latter, comprised of sprinters who can also climb. (Nota bene Mark Cavendish and André Greipel: we don't expect to see you here - least not in the first group...)

It's also worth nothing the last two winners in Gap were or became road world champion: In the case of the former, Norway's Thor Hushovd, who won the worlds in 2010, struck gold in Stage 16 the 2011 Tour; and on the same-numbered stage two years later, Rui Costa of Portugal won the worlds the same year he stole a march in Gap.

So, if history repeats itself, Michal Kwiatkowski will emerge triumphant - or the victor of Stage 16 will become our next champion du monde sur route!

Christian Prudhomme, Directeur du Tour de France, says:

"It should be one of the last opportunities left for the long breakaway specialists. However sprinters who will be able to remain within shooting distance in the climbs of the day could also have their word to say. Especially because for the finish in Gap, one of the nicest straights awaits."

Matt White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director, says:

"If you remember, a couple of years ago (in 2011), Ryder Hesjedal and Thor Hushovd knicked off the front on the descent of the Col de Manse, so if you're not a good descender, it's not a good final for you, that's for sure. And it usually doesn't rain in that part of the world in July, but it did a couple of years ago.

"Again, it's another day for the breakaway, and another solid final that will sort the men from the boys. Plenty of guys can get themselves in the breakaway - it's a pretty long, first flat section before the first climb of the day - but if you're tired or not a super climber, you've probably found yourself in the wrong break...

"Who would be good for us? Everyone on our team except for Durbridge and Tuft, I reckon! Any of the others would be pretty handy in a final like that."

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