TDF Stage 14 Preview: Montélimar -> Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux

Today’s Recap

A day where two riders very much set their stall out. Tom Dumoulin took a magnificent stage win, absolutely crushing the opposition and now surely has to be the favourite for Gold at the Olympics next month. He looks so smooth on a time trial bike, a joy to watch!

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Chris Froome finished just over a minute down on the Dutchman but now extends his GC lead, with his nearest rival being Bauke Mollema who’s 1″47 down. The way he’s riding, this Tour is Froome’s to lose. Only by misfortune, either through injury or illness will stop him. He looks simply unbeatable!

I do think Quintana has to be ill, he doesn’t look his normal self. Nonetheless, the battle for the podium does look very exciting, with a lot of riders still in contention and a lot of tough stages left.

Let’s have a look at tomorrow’s stage!

The Route

At first look, the stage appears to be a straight forward flat sprint stage. However, there is a reasonable amount of climbing, both categorised and uncategorised. Nothing crazy, but it’s definitely not pan flat!

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This climbing is particularly apparent in the middle section of the stage, from around 75kms to 150kms.

Aside from that, there is nothing really exciting to note for the stage.

The run in is flat, so it won’t catch anyone out and the finish is probably the least technical we’ve had all race.

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It’s pretty much going to be a drag race after the 3km mark. We might see a more traditional sprint here with a few sprint trains lined up across the road.

So a straight forward sprint day then?

Well, nothing is ever straight forward at the Tour is it, as we’ve seen over the past few days.

The previous stages will have taken a lot out of the riders; crosswind action, a tough mountain finish, plus a demanding TT today. Some of them will be hoping for a club-run tomorrow!

Therefore, we could very well see a break stay away tomorrow.

Sky won’t be overly concerned if a break makes it, neither will any of the other GC teams. It will be over to the sprint teams to control the day. With a very demanding day in the mountains on stage 15, some of them might not fancy it.

Orica and Katusha could well keep their powder dry to look after their GC hopes. I can’t see Etixx doing the same and telling Kittel that they won’t work for him.

LottoS and Dimension Data both have stage wins to their name, will they really want to control it all day?

I think we could see a similar situation to that on stage 10, where a break full of riders from the sprinters teams made it to the finish. The same that was said for that stage can be said for this one. If 75% of the sprint teams get one rider or more in the break, it stays away. Although this is probably weighted towards the “bigger” sprinters teams. At least 3 out of the 4 of LottoS/Ettix/DD/Katusha will need someone in there. The likes of Direct Energie and Bora don’t have the power to bring it back themselves, but they would aid a chase if a couple of the big teams wanted it back.

One thing that does go against the breakaway’s chances is the potential headwind that they will have all day.

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Wind forecast at Leyrieu (around 40km from the finish)

This will certainly make it easier for those behind to keep the riders up front within touching distance.

Breakaway Candidates

The normal teams will try to get in the escape, i.e. Cofidis, Bora etc. and if we do get the situation above then strong baroudeurs from the sprint teams might try to get involved. Like other previews when I’ve mentioned potential break picks I’ll name 3 here, I don’t want to keep you all night!

Adam Hansen.

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The Australian hasn’t been of the front so far this race which is unlike him. He’s been doing a good bit of work for the team and Greipel. If the sprint teams decide to play around he definitely has the ability to finish it from a break.

Oscar Gatto.

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The Cat is another rider who’s kind of cruised through this Tour, although doing a lot of work for Sagan. He’s made the front group on both the crosswind days which shows he’s going well. He has a fast sprint and would be a danger-man if a break goes all the way.

Chris Juul-Jensen.

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The Joker always seems to be in a good mood on Orica’s backstage pass videos. A strong rider, I fancy him to be the type of guy Orica send up the road to cover the breakaway. As we saw on stage 10, they’re experts at sniffing out break days when there should be sprints.

After all this though, the most likely outcome is still a sprint. 70/30 chance I make it. If there was no head-wind then that would increase the breaks chances.

Sprint Contenders

Basically all of the guys that are still here and I’ve gone through them all before so won’t go into too much detail.

Cav & Kittel once again have to be favourites. Cav based on form, and Kittel based on, well, he’s Marcel Kittel.

Lotto Soudal’s train should definitely be a help to Greipel here. They should be able to get organised and deliver him perfectly to the final 150m.

The same can be said for Groenewegen. I’ve been impressed by Jumbo and the way they’ve brought the youngster to the front. He’s just not managed to finish it off. That could quite possibly change here.

Kristoff a.k.a the headwind sprint specialist definitely has to be respected. He’ll be very disappointed after winning the peloton sprint for 4th on Stage 11.

Sagan, Matthews, Coquard, McLay, Degenkolb, Enger and Laporte could all get in the mix too.

Prediction

We’ll most likely see a sprint tomorrow but I’d like to see a break upset the odds and stay away. If it does stay, I say Gatto wins.

In the sprint it will be hard to beat the big two but I fancy Groenewegen to go well for some reason. It’s just a hunch. Not that any of my hunches have went well so far this race! Groenewegen definitely has the raw power to match the best if he’s on a very good day. Furthermore, he will be able to cope with the climbing early in the stage due to his one-day racing background. Tomorrow could be his day to take a memorable win.

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* * * I apologise in advance for tomorrow’s preview. I’m away visiting a friend all day and going out at night so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to watch the stage/write anything. I plan on doing a route analysis and prediction tonight so there should still be something out * * *

Betting

0.6pt EW Groenewegen @33/1 with PP (Available at 28/1 with others that I’d take)

Fun bets incoming…

0.1pt Hansen @300/1 with Various bookmakers

0.1pt Gatto @400/1 with PP/Ladbrokes

0.1pt Chris Juul-Jensen @500/1 with PP/Bet365

 

Hopefully tomorrow won’t be another long day in the saddle but I fear it might. Almost glad that I won’t be watching it all! Do you think the break has any chance? Or am I just being optimistic as usual?! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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