65km from Bagnères-de-Luchon up to the summit finish of Col du Portet. There’ll be no neutral roll out and the riders will be gridded based on GC position in an arrow formation so that the first to cross the start line is the yellow jersey.
As expected today’s stage was incredibly fast from the off and with plenty of teams keen to get their riders in the break for what could have been the final opportunity of the race. A farmers protest and some errand tear gas caused a race neutralisation early on but this didn’t seem to deter a group of 44 riders who eventually got up the road after 105km of attacking. Come the Col de Portillon only strongest climber were left and it was from there that the attacks flew. Yates’ acceleration was the most convincing and he crested the climb first, Alaphilippe following around 20 seconds later. The gap was closing on the descent and the pressure showed as Yates crashed allowing Alaphilippe to come round and ride to the finish to take his second win.
The GC guys allowed Sky to control the pace and they all rolled over the line together. A day of relative ease could have some serious implications for tomorrow. The route is completely new and the gridded system could make it harder for Sky to control. Indeed a representative of Dumoulin has said that he’s viewing it as a 65km time trial and it’s likely a number of the GC guys take it up early rather than wait for their domestiques to work their way through the pack.
I think this could be the day that we see Chris Froome hit top form. G Thomas has been great so far but Froome will have targeted this final week and if the Giro is anything to go by then he could well be untouchable during the coming stages. Each climb is tough and a strong pace from the outset will suit Froome who could well attack from the gun.
I think Dumoulin will be his nearest rival and will also be keen to see Geraint put under pressure. All 3 of the climbs are tough in terms of gradient but their relatively consistent and could suit Dumoulin’s ability to pace himself. Like Froome I think Dumoulin is likely to be hitting his best form in this final week having taken it easy between the Giro and the start of the Tour.
This stage needs to be where Movistar try something. On paper Quintana and Landa should be great on this stage but their legs have been questionable at best so far in this race. Similarly this is the time for Bardet to put the hurt on and outside of Sky he’s probably been climbing the best and his descending skills are well known, something that could be vital in maintaining a gap on tomorrows stage. He also has the kind of attacking flair that could work well on a stage like this.
The final man with a chance at winning tomorrow is Primoz Roglic. This is the first time he’s been in contention for a Grand Tour so his legs are a bit of a mystery heading into the final week but going on his current form he should go well. If he can close the gap on GC tomorrow then he’ll back himself to do a good time trial to reinforce his position.
It really will be an interesting one to watch tomorrow. There’s always a chance the gridding system just ends up some kind of confused roll out with GC guys waiting for their teammates but it could also be brilliant. Lets hope for the latter!
In terms of betting there isn’t a huge amount of value going about because it’s almost nailed on to be a GC day. Froome is as short as 2s at the moment which isn’t at all tempting. Instead I’ve gone with Bardet, who I think the final climb particularly suits and who has looked strong in the mountains so far, particularly when the racing is hard for a long period.
1pt on Romain Bardet to win @ 15 (bet365)
If you’re interested I’ve also gone with a fun little treble. Pierre Latour to beat Guillieme Martin should come off based on the racing so far with Latour beating Martin pretty much every time out. Dan Martin to beat Egan Bernal could be a slightly tricky one based on the talent of Bernal but I’m thinking Sky will use him to set pace and will be happy for him to sit up well before the finish. Fuglsang to beat Zakarin should be another interesting one but again one I’m confident of. Zakarin has looked out of shape all race and doesn’t really have any team support to speak of. Team moral in the Astana squad will be high and this will have a huge impact on Fuglsang’s performance (just look at their attempt to attack today)
1.5pts on Fulgsang tb Zakarin and Dan Martin tb Egan Bernal and Latour tb Martin @ 3.36 (unibet)
Thanks for reading, quite likely to be some additions or in-plays for tomorrow so follow me on Twitter to stay updated @eachwayvelo