A crazy stage filled with everything and it was certainly one of the most exciting I’ve watched in recent years. It was a stage that I’m sure even a non-cycling fan would be able to sit down to and enjoy for 5 hours.
In the end Uran managed to win a 6 rider sprint while effectively on a fixie. That just topped off a remarkable day!
Day-long escapee Barguil finished second, while Froome nabbed third to pick up some bonus seconds and extend his GC lead over closest challenger Aru.
Of course, we had some very unfortunate crashes that took out some big names. However, that’s part of racing and it is nothing more than unfortunate. The riders push as fast as they want and are safe with, if they want to take risks, that’s up to them! It might be a slightly unpopular opinion but I see nothing wrong with yesterday’s stage lay-out; going downhill is as an important skill as going uphill. If not, why not just set up some turbos and see who can do the highest W/kg for an hour?!
Anyway, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
The riders will be glad to ease themselves back into racing after the rest-day with a fairly simple stage tomorrow.
There are only two Cat-4 climbs out on course but the first one is generously given that classification as it only averages 3.3% for 3.5km. The second is slightly tougher but even then it is only 2.1km at 5.6%. Not exactly tough for the peloton!
As for the finish itself, there are a couple of roundabouts at roughly 3km to go but they won’t be too much of an issue.
There are then two left-hand turns in the closing kilometre which could throw a spanner in the works for the lead-out trains.
The first one isn’t too sharp a bend but it is made tight due to some road furniture, effectively blocking off one side of the road. Or at least making the longer way around harder to go!
The narrowing road should ensure that the bunch is relatively strung out coming out of the turn. Which in theory will make the second left-hand corner easier.
I just hope that they’ve got rid of those gates! 😜
It will then be a 500m drag race to the line and we should see the fastest rider sprint for stage victory. Or should we…
How will the stage pan out?
It should be a sprint stage but post rest-day racing always produces some kind of odd result every now and then. Remember what I said in my Stage 7 preview…
With Kittel being so dominant, I’m not sure many of the other sprint teams will want to contribute to the pace setting. They’ll let Quick Step do the majority of the work, hoping to tire them out and take advantage of it later on in the stage. However, there is a chance that QS could call their bluff. The German already has three stage wins to his name so there is no pressure on him to win again. He didn’t look too great in his win on Stage 7, looking down at his power meter a lot, suggesting that he wasn’t feeling as strong. With a commanding lead in the Green Jersey competition the team also has room to ride defensively. Potentially give Martin an easier day after his crash yesterday?
Kittel starts as the clear favourite but he is beatable. Especially now that Trentin is gone, that could be crucial for him. Although in fairness, his lead-out wasn’t firing on all cylinders anyway and he has three stage wins to his name.
Greipel has been close but he hasn’t looked like winning any stage yet. Nonetheless, the experienced German has to be respected in a Grand Tour sprint. Will he be able to pick up a win tomorrow to keep his streak going?
Bouhanni might actually have a chance if he positions himself well. I still rate him as a fast rider and his acceleration could be key tomorrow to sprint out of the corners. Nonetheless, he’ll no doubt find himself 10 bike-lengths behind and that will be that.
Boasson Hagen arguably has the beast lead-out here now. So, so close to a win on Stage 7, Dimension Data were excellent; especially van Rensburg. The other sprinters will be aware of his strength now though so he might find it more difficult tomorrow.
Groenewegen will be there or thereabouts again. Two 5th place finishes for him so far, but he’ll be expecting more. He is fast and the finish does look to suit him. Can he make the step up and take a grand tour podium or even better, a win??
Kristoff has a great last man in Zabel and should be dropped off in a great position. He seems to be getting better as the race goes on, returning to his form of previous years? If so, he has the speed to win!
Matthews finished fast on Stage 7 but I’m still unsure if he has the raw-speed to compete on a pure flat sprint. His powers of recovery might be better than some of the proper sprinters, but he did have a big day out yesterday and I think that will take its toll tomorrow.
Colbrelli, Cimolai and McLay will be fighting for top 10 spots.
I’d say the chance of the break sticking are better than any sprint stage so far, but it is still only a 10% chance at most. There will need to be some strong riders up the road and ideally be a 6-7 rider group.
I’ll throw a couple of names into the proverbial hat, sticking with some home-talent…
The Frenchman is a young sprint talent who’s getting his first taste at Grand Tour riding. However, Direct Energie seem to be going with Petit for the big bunch sprints, with Boudat left to take opportunities from the break. Hailing from Langon, which is 80km from the finish in Bergerac, I imagine that a lot of his friends and family from home will be out to see him race. What better motivation to get into the morning breakaway than that?! He might not have the experience, but he will be tough to beat in a sprint if the break makes it all the way to the line.
A rider who was in the break on the first open road stage (with Boudat), he and Phinney nearly managed to hold on until the line, getting caught in the final few kilometres. Wanty are clearly motivated to try to get a rider into the move every day on the flat stages and that will be no different tomorrow. If he’s as aggressive and strong as he was on Stage 2 then he has a chance. His breakaway companions will certainly be Offredo him…
I’ll get my coat.
We’ll probably still see a sprint and Kittel will probably win, again!
I think that Kristoff could be his biggest challenger though. Although he only finished 4th on Stage 7, he showed some signs he’s riding back into good form. In search of a contract for next year, a good result tomorrow would certainly help that!
Definitely not lumping on Kittel tomorrow and almost tempted for a no bet, however…
0.8pt EW Kristoff @ 10/1 with William Hill
0.1pt EW Boudat @ 350/1 with BetVictor (would take 250s lowest elsewhere)
0.1pt EW Offredo @ 600/1 with Bet365 (would take 500s elsewhere)
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Can anyone beat Kittel? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.