TDF Stage 11 Preview: Carcassonne -> Montpellier

Today’s Recap

The crossbar was hit today!

A very strong break got away that included representatives from the main sprint teams (only Jumbo, Katusha and Etixx not represented) and with a lack of co-ordination behind, it was never brought back.  I have to be honest, I have no idea what happened before the last 15km as I was away visiting my grandparents, so I can’t say why Nibali/Landa and Co weren’t there at the end.

Anyway, Orica played the numbers game brilliantly with Durbridge pulling into and up the final climb. Once Durbridge started to swing over, one of our picks and predicted break winner Impey attacked. However, Sagan was his usual imperious self and closed him down. This happened a few times. Much to my disgust!

It was probably sour grapes because Impey never got away, but I was irritated by Kirby’s calling of “The old 1-2 tactic”, because it was more of a 1-1-1, the 2 never came. I really thought Sagan would have won the sprint, but fair play to Matthews who powered home excellently. I guess that’s why I’m not a DS and Matt White is!

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Moving onto tomorrow’ stage.

The Route

After the mountain start today, the riders face a much easier start.

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We’ll probably see a 3 to 5 man break get away almost from the gun, with the sprinters teams managing the gap. There are two Cat 4 climbs out on the route to ensure we get some kind of excitement from the break as the riders go for the points (*cough* prize money *cough*).

The stage finale is relatively straight forward too.

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After the organisers throwing in a few turns/roundabouts in the last 1km in previous stages, we look set to get a drag race here.

The road itself kicks up ever so slightly, but nothing that will worry any of the sprinters.

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The main concern within the peloton tomorrow and the thing that could potentially cause havoc is the wind.

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The riders never stray too far from the coast, but the in-land roads they traverse are very exposed. It’s prime wine growing country, there is vine-cover not tree-cover out on the road.

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Wind direction/average speed/gusts (in km/h) at Albine (near the first half of the stage)
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Same statistics for Cournonterral (near the end of the stage)

As you can see above, the wind seems to be at a constant all day. Furthermore, the direction that it’s blowing in is ideal for cross-tailwinds. This is the least favoured type of wind within the peloton because it increases the speed so much and causes a lot of nervousness. This coupled with the long sections of exposed road could lead to some crazy racing.

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Section of road just after Montagnac (around 40km to go), highlighting the exposed roads.

So how will the stage pan out?

Well, that all depends on the attitudes of the sprint and GC teams.

Two big echelon creating powerhouses in the form of Lotto Soudal and Etixx don’t have as many wins as they’d like at this stage. With Lotto winless and Etixx only having Kittel’s win to their name. They will both see this as a big opportunity to try to get rid of some of the other sprinters. Unfortunately for them, a lot of the sprinters are very good at positioning themselves in the wind. Sagan, Cavendish, Kristoff and Groenewegen would all hope to be there. That is of course assuming that the peloton stays at a reasonable size. If the hammer is really put down we could end up with around 20 riders contesting the finish.

We saw on the first stage that Movistar were very keen and proactive at the front of the peloton in the crosswinds. They could try something similar here. The only issue with the GC guys putting the hammer down is that they have a very tough finish up Ventoux the following day and an ITT the next. But if they sense blood then they’ll go for it!

I’m hoping we do get some crosswind action to liven the day up, otherwise it will just be a case of tuning into the final 20km to watch the sprint.

Stage Contenders

If we get a pure bunch sprint then it has to be Cavendish v Kittel. I can’t split them and neither can the bookies, on form I’d go with the Manxman.

I’m not going to bother listing out all of the possible outsiders but there is one rider who’s progression I like during the race, Alexander Kristoff. He came into the Tour a bit undercooked and not in form but seems to be getting there. He finished an impressive 4th on Stage 6. Unfortunately, he has lost a key lead-out man in Morkov, but still has Haller and Guarnieri who can do a very good job. I’d expect him to get onto the podium soon, potentially go better. Tomorrow could be that day.

If we do get some echelon madness, then look to those who go well in Belgian classics/semi-classics where wind plays a big part.

Cancellara is the type of guy who could go well from a 20-man or so group at the end of the stage. He seems to be felling better after the rest-day, which is evident with this poorly worded tweet.

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Belgian Vanmarcke will no doubt be up there if we get some kind of split in the peloton. If his young compatriot Groenewegen hasn’t made the selection, he could well be given the go ahead. It would have to be pretty selective for him but you never know!

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The same can be said for Dylan Van Baarle. He had a solid spring campaign but hasn’t done much here. Cannondale don’t really have a proper sprinter, Navardauskas is the closest they have, so if things get dicey they could turn to Dylan.

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Prediction

It’s more out of hope than anything else, but I think we’ll see some kind of cross wind action tomorrow. Kristoff is very good in these conditions and with his upward trajectory, I think he can nab a stage win. Even if there are no echelons, he can definitely contend the sprint!

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Betting

One main, all types of situation bet plus 3 wind calamity long-shots.

Kristoff 1.1pt EW @18/1 with Skybet (I’d take the 16/1 widely available)

Cancellara 0.2pt EW @250/1 with Betfair (I’d take 200/1)

Vanmarcke 0.1pt EW @400/1 with Betfair (I’d take 300/1)

Van Baarle 0.1pt EW @500/1 with Betfair (I’d take 400/1)

 

Hope you liked the preview, do you think we’ll see echelons tomorrow? It would certainly make better viewing. Any feedback as normal is greatly appreciated. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

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