TDF Stage 19 Preview: Albertville -> Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc

Today’s Recap

Should have just stuck to that Twitter preview then!

Froome rode the classic negative split tactic, clawing back time on his rivals, and smashing them by the end. A comfortable 21 second win over Dumoulin once the dust settled. That’s the Tour well and truly over, but I think we all know that its been over for a while.

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Aru, Porte and Bardet all recorded very good times, coming home within a minute of the Brit. They all look to be going in the right direction heading into the next two stages.

Poels and Kelderman went for club runs today, but were not as slow as TVG who seemed to crawl round the course.

Onto tomorrow’s mountain top finish.

The Route

A short sharp, tough day out in the saddle.

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Another stage where a fast start is inevitable. The Collet de Tamié isn’t even categorised but it’s a tough climb; 8.1km at 7%. I’d give it a Cat-2 ranking, Cat-3 at worst.

The sprint point comes not long after the climb, and although Sagan has the Green Jersey competition wrapped up, I would not be surprised to see him try to join the break. Just for fun!

The next 50km are dominated by periods of flat broken up by one mountain, the Col de la Forclaz, but by two seperate passages of it. The first comes in at 9.8km with an average gradient 6.9%, with the latter being a shorter sharper incline (5.6km at 7.8%). After the second passage, the riders are soon onto the toughest test of the day.

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It starts off tough and gets tougher, with the second half averaging over 9%. We might see some GC fireworks here, but with the way Sky have been riding then I can’t see it.

The route then tackles a long descent, broken up by a false flat drag, before the start the final ascent of the day.

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A testy climb, it’s toughest section comes right at the start. Riders could be distanced here if the pace has been high on the previous climbs. We then get a section of “calm” with gradients of around 4% before it kicks back up in irregular sections all the way to the line. This will definitely cause some damage in the GC group, but will they be fighting for the stage? That is the question.

There is a risk of rain at some point throughout the stage, but who really trusts weathermen these days?!

How will the stage pan out?

Froome’s dominance today means that the GC battle for first place is well and truly over. The battle for the podium is getting even more exciting though! Will those who looked strong (other than Froome) today keep it together for a GC showdown on the final mountain. That would require BMC/Astana/AG2R to keep it together. The first two could manage it but the way Froome is riding, they could end up losing the stage to him. A lot of effort and risk for a chance of it all going up in the air. I don’t think they’ll do that. Froome himself already has two stage wins so he won’t be as concerned with getting a third. Therefore Sky won’t chase hard, they’ll just ride tempo. Sky will let a break get away as early as they can so that Rowe and Stannard can control the race.

So as we’ve seen often in this Tour, I think it will be a break that makes it to the finish line.

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With the incredibly hard start to the stage it will only be the strong riders who get away. The stage does have the potential for some of the GC teams to try to get a rider who is in contention for a top 5/10 away in it, however, with Sky’s strength it’s almost a pointless move. I don’t think they’ll bother that early on. Instead, they’ll look to get teammates in the break and maybe try something on the last two climbs of the day. Look for a couple of representatives from a few of the big teams. However, the break might have a large advantage by that point, I think it will, so those riders in turn will hunt for stages.

Candidates

Like my other previews, I’ll highlight 3 riders that I don’t think many others will mention that could give it a go if circumstances are right.

Mikel Nieve.

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I’ve said this countless times before, I hope Sky send someone in the break tomorrow. It would endear them to the general cycling public that they’re all not “robotic” etc., plus getting someone in the break and to go for the stage win shows that they want to reward their domestiques by giving them their own opportunities. Froome has the race sewn up, he only needs a few strong guys with him. Poels is strongest so will stay with Froome, while Thomas and Henao are maybe just too close on GC. They’ll need Rowe, Stannard and Kiry to control the early stage. Landa hasn’t looked great. Process of elimination leaves the Spaniard. He’s shown at the Giro earlier this year that he goes very well in the final week and can pull off some great performances. If he does get in the move then he’ll be a serious threat as well because he’s evidently on great form being the 2nd last man for Froome over the past few stages.

Steve Cummings.

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The Brit has had a very solid Tour so far, taking a memorable stage earlier on in the race. Since then he’s been fairly quiet, doing a lot of work for Cavendish and EBH. He did a monster turn on the front the day the stage finished into Berne. The form is clearly still there. If he’s targeted this stage then we could be in for a treat! The steep gradients might not suit him down to the ground but he’ll definitely give 100%.

Simon Geschke.

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A bit of a left-field pick this one, but he did win an excellent mountain stage last year at the Tour. This stage could be too much for him, especially as he’s not done anything all year really. However, if he manages to get into the break and it splits up, then he could cause a surprise! He will enjoy some of the steep gradients, that’s for sure.

For other candidates look towards the likes of Nibali, Rosa, Zakarin, Majka, Kelderman, Barguil, Rolland et al.

Prediction

More out of hope than anything else, Sky put someone in the break tomorrow, and that man goes on to win the stage. A memorable win for Nieve, who will build on Sky’s already remarkable Tour!

Behind, we’ll see a GC battle. Froome and Poels will mark any attacks, but we might see a reshuffling of the top 10. Bardet/Porte/Aru all seem on an upwards trajectory.

Betting

All these prices are quite early on, hunt around later for better prices.

Nieve 0.45pt EW @ 150/1 with PP/Betfair (I’d take 100/1)

Cummings 0.2pt EW @100/1 with Betfair

Geschke 0.1pt EW @300/1 with various bookmakers.

 

Hope you enjoyed the preview! How do you think the stage will pan out? Is it a case of another race on two fronts, or will the GC guys take stage glory? As usual any feedback is greatly appreciated, thanks for all your kind words so far, it means a lot. 🙂 Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

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