Stage 14: Annemasse to Morzine Les Portes Du Soleil – 152 km
Date: July 15, 2023
Stage type: Mountains
What to watch for: Aurélien Paret-Peintre is from the start town of Annemasse and is likely to try to slide into the break.
Stage summary: The Joux Plane has been described as the nastiest climb in the Alps. Others have more notoriety, but few, if any, are actually harder. It was host to a famous Marco Pantani win in 1997 and, of course, the final climb in Floyd Landis’ unbelievable (and unnatural) solo, 120 km ride back into the yellow jersey in 2006. It has often flown under the radar but has a history of turning the Tour on its head.
Starting near the Swiss border before winding its way into the heart of the Alps, this latter half of the stage is nearly identical to the difficult day won by Ion Izaguirre in 2016. That stage also finished with the Col de la Ramaz and Col de Joux Plane before descending into Morzine, and we saw a large and star-studded breakaway ride clear before duking it out on the Joux Plane itself.
Behind, Chris Froome and his Team Sky train trundled along and kept their iron grip on the yellow jersey.
Could we see the same? It’s likely. The early climbs are good breakaway formation territory, and then the strongest climbers of that group will battle for the stage win. Behind, the GC men will have to be careful on Joux Plane and even more careful on the descent off its backside into the finish.
The descent is fast and dangerous, most because it’s unpredictable. The corners are often blind. What lies around the next bend? A sweeping, no-brakes flier or a nasty, decreasing radius corner? Riders will have to be on their game. Legend has it Sean Kelly once hit 124 km/h on this descent.
Dane Cash’s picks: I wouldn’t be surprised to see this go to the breakaway, with the likes of Ion Izagirre, Mike Woods, and Neilson Powless as potential options. If it comes down to the GC types, Tom Pidcock seems like a great bet for the stage. Even if he gets dropped by the other two obvious favorites (Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard) on the beastly Col de Joux Plane, he might catch back up on the descent and potentially outsprint them.
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