Never in doubt, was it? Ha!
Bernal took an incredibly strong win (with possibly some help from his minute-man that happened to be his team-mate along the way), edging out a motoring Roglic who finished just 4 seconds behind the Colombian in the end after being 12 seconds behind him at the split. A resurgent Porte rounded out the podium and is a sign of what is to come from him later in the year.
The result means that Roglic is still in the race lead with Bernal only 6 seconds down and Porte 27 seconds back himself.
All to play for going in to tomorrow’s stage. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.
We have the Queen stage with over 3500m of climbing packed into only 150km of racing.
However, it the toughest ascent of the day is actually the very first one that the peloton will tackle, starting the climb after only 8kms into the stage. Ovronnaz averages a leg breaking 9.5% for 9.1km but surely it is too early for anyone to try anything here, especially with a long section of flat that follows the descent.
Three climbs then come in quick succession, with the first of them being the second most difficult climb of the day. Again though, with 75kms from the peak of that climb to the finish it is hard to believe we’ll see any fireworks here.
The last climb of the day Collons (13.1km at 6.5%) crests with 27km to go and it will tempt attacks from the peloton.
As you can see on the profile above, there are 3kms of much shallower gradients in the middle of the climb before it starts to ramp back upwards again towards the top, with the last 5kms averaging roughly 7.7%.
The descent is long and technical which means that gaps can be made by those who are more confident going downhill, consequently making it as good a place to attack as the climb. Thankfully for the riders, it looks set to be a dry day.
With roughly 6kms of flat to the line after the descent, it will take a strong rider to hold off a chasing group behind unless of course there is no co-operation in said group.
How will the race pan out?
This is one of those stages that could go a multitude of ways and it almost seems too hard which could lead to negative racing. Furthermore, with Roglic clearly flying it will be very hard for anyone to dethrone him, especially when you consider he is a very competent descender himself so a rider will need a good lead off the last climb. You then have to consider that he has the strongest domestique in the race, Kruijswijk, who just happens to be sitting 4th on GC himself, to help bring back any attacks.
Before the stage today Izagirre said in an interview that the rider who won the TT would win the race overall and I tend to agree with him. Bernal is incredible, but he will need a stupendous day to beat Roglic. He and Sky might know that and given that it is a tough stage to control anyway, they might turn their head to stage hunting.
I think we’ll see a strong group of riders go clear on the first climb that will fragment later on but survive any GC surge from behind. So once again, it is time to play everyone’s favourite game…
The 3 Darter
The Costa Rican is a strong all round rider who can go well on the flat and in the mountains. He was probably Movistar’s GC leader coming in to this race but he disappointed in the prologue and wasn’t great today either. However, his plans might have changed and he could be eyeing up a stage win from the breakaway instead. I would be surprised not to see Movistar on the attack tomorrow as they have a squad here geared up for that sort of thing. Amador has shown in the past at the Giro that he can cope well on tough mountain days but he can also descend like a stone. He will worry some if he gets into the morning move.
Took a breakthrough win in Paris Nice earlier in the year that was coming, after he has been knocking on the door for a good result over the past couple of seasons. He’s a very punchy climber who can cope with steep slopes so the opening climb should be good for him to make the break. Molard possesses a good kick so in a small sprint to the line he might have a chance.
I’m a big fan of the Wanty rider and he is slowly developing into one of the best Pro-Conti climbers. Last year he took an impressive third place in a stage at the Tour and followed that up with the GC win at Alfredo Martini. 2018 has been a solid year for him so far with a win in Cycliste Sarthe before being a bit under the weather scuppered any chances of a good result in the Ardennes. If he has bounced back from that illness then he has the potential to put in a good performance tomorrow.
If we do get a GC fight for the stage win then someone slightly further down the order might profit from Roglic / Bernal / Porte looking at each other but that is a bridge I will cross when it comes tomorrow!
Andrey Amador to descend like a stone off of the final climb and hold off the chasing group of GC favourites.
Behind, Roglic will hold on for the GC title.
0.5pt WIN on them all;
Amador @ 125/1
Martin @ 150/1
Molard @ 50/1
I’ve been thinking for a while about either charging for tips (£5) during the Grand Tours or the blogs as a way of subsidising all my time and effort that goes into daily previews. I have left a poll on my Twitter feed that you can vote on if you would be interested in anything. The blogs would stay the same but just without the “Betting” section, which would obviously be left for others. I’m leaning more towards just the tips but then again, we all know how shite my Giro was last year and I don’t want any extra pressure! Mr Wong will probably come crawling out of the doldrums…
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see a break make it all the way or will the GC guys battle it out for glory? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.