I was disappointed to wake up this afternoon to see a 20-rider breakaway up the road and none of the picks represented. Even more disappointed when scrolling through the Le Tour Race Centre feed to see that Bauer and McCarthy were involved in an earlier move, oh well!
The breakaway stayed together over the last climb and we were treated to a very tactical battle in the final 40km.
Countless attacks went and were brought back but we did see a split over a slight rise which cut the group in half. From there, we had even more attacks but it was a roundabout inside the final 3km that decided the race. The majority of the front group took the left side, whereas Arndt and Boasson Hagen took the right, much shorter side.
The Norwegian picked up the pace just as Arndt was reaching his limit and swung over. Using a friendly moto he got a 5-10m gap and that was the race over from there! After all his close calls so far this race it is good to see him take the win.
Arndt held on to finish second, with Keukeleire winning the reduced bunch gallop for third.
With all the GC riders rolling home together, let’s have a look at what’s in store for them tomorrow.
A pan-flat TT apart from one very short and sharp climb.
The route is a very interesting one as the climb only makes up just over 5% of the stage. However, being an average of 9.5% for that 1.2km it will probably take the riders closer to roughly 12% of their total time.
The climb is steep and will certainly ruin the rhythm of the TT specialists. I wonder if we’ll see any bike changes before it? Personally I would say it is not worth it but you never know!
Aside from the climb, the course is more technical than the opening TT we saw in Düsseldorf. The roads are narrow, particularly along the Corniche, with the riders having to contend with a few tight turns and roundabouts. However, there are plenty of long straight sections for the powerhouses in the peloton to put the Watts down.
It will be a close battle between the TT specialists and the all-round GC riders for the stage win.
Quite often in a TT the changing weather throughout the day will play a part in deciding the outcome. However, it appears tomorrow that all the riders should have dry conditions with the later starts possibly benefiting from a drop in wind speed. Although that depends on what source you look at!
After crashing in the opening TT, the Jumbo rider has since turned things around and took an excellent stage win a couple of days ago. An excellent rider against the clock he should be there or thereabouts but I think he might have actually preferred a harder course with a longer descent!
The last TT in a Tour means Froome normally turns up. He crushed Dumoulin last year in the closing time trial and the same can be said for his effort in the Vuelta TT where he put 45 seconds into joint stage favourite Castroviejo. The route looks ideal for the Brit with power sections where he can, erm, put the power down, but the climb should be suited to him too. The only issue is that he hasn’t looked great this Tour so far, yet he finds himself in Yellow. He’s the type of rider who will want to win a stage on his way to winning the race overall and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the top step tomorrow.
Second place in the opening TT, the Swiss rider did very well to set a fast time when everyone else around him seemed to be struggling in the wet weather. He’s been anonymous since then but has possibly been saving himself for this effort. Tomorrow’s route looks similar to recent closing TT in the Tour de Suisse where he was second behind a flying Dennis. Can he repeat that performance tomorrow?
After failing to make a dream start to his race back in Düsseldorf, Martin has dabbled in a few breakaways since then. The climb is really steep for a guy like him, we saw what happened to him on the steep slopes during his solo breakaway. However, at only 1.2km long he will fancy his chances of powering up it. He should finish in the top 5 but I’m not too confident in his form just now.
If Froome and Landa want the best info as to how the course rides at race pace then they’ll need a team-mate earlier in the day to go full gas. Given how well he is currently riding, Kwiatkowski could be that man. The course looks a perfect distance for “Kawasaki” and he will probably want to honour his national champions jersey by giving it a good go. The only concern is that he might decide to have an extra rest day considering all of the work he has done so far.
The Spaniard is another rider who has had a quiet time this Tour, possibly with an eye on tomorrow’s stage. A great time trial rider he will be challenging again for the win.
As for an outsider who could challenge, I’ll once again highlight Bauer. The New Zealand TT champion got into one of the early moves today so his form is still there. Having taken it easy on the opening day, I think he might give it a nudge tomorrow. It will be tough for him to win but he could possibly sneak onto the podium if he gets lucky.
This one is tough.
I’ve chopped and changed my mind between some of the riders listed above several times so far. Making cases for and against all of them and not really coming to any concrete/confident conclusion.
If he gets to go full gas then I really think Kwiatkowski has a chance of taking a stage win and be truly rewarded for all his work over the past three weeks!
Bit of a lottery, and the 9/4 on Froome looks tempting but he’s still too short given his not so dominant performances recently.
1.35pts EW Kwiatkowski @ 20/1 with Ladbrokes/Coral (1/4 odds for 3 places)
0.15pts EW Bauer @ 500/1 with various
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.