Tour de France 2018 Stage 11 Preview: Albertville -> La Rosière Espace San Bernardo

Today’s Recap

Damp squib GC wise with no-one really testing the water, it was more a case of them all looking at it from the picnic blanket. Nonetheless, we did see some guys lose time already which is not great.

As for the stage win there was no-one stopping Alaphilippe today, he was truly sensational. He was one of the main riders driving the early attempts to get into the break and he didn’t stop all day. Eventually going solo on the foot slopes of the Colombière after bridging to and dropping Taaramaë, he continued to increase his lead over the rest of the breakaway and had plenty of time to celebrate by the time he reached the line.

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Ion Izagirre won the two-up sprint with Taaramaë for second place on the day. A special hat-tip must go to Van Avermaet who went on the attack today just like he did back in 2016 and he managed to extend his lead in the yellow jersey. Can he hold on to it after tomorrow’s stage? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

Second day in the Alps and we have the shortest stage of the three and a carbon copy of Dauphiné stage 6.

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The organisers have managed to pack four categorised climbs into 108.5km of racing, including two HC-Cat efforts, totalling a tad over 4000m of elevation. That’s an awful lot, maybe too much. It is a bit of a weird day but in terms of average gradient the climbs are almost inverted with the toughest ascents coming at the start of the day.

Facing an uncategorised drag from the gun it isn’t long until the riders start climbing proper and they face the Montée de Bisanne.

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At an average of 8.2% for 12.4km it is pretty tough to say the least but the second half of the ascent is the toughest. Several kilometres where the gradient is above 9% might see plenty in the peloton struggle.

A long descent follows before they start climbing again.

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The Col du Pré and Cormet de Roseland can pretty much be rolled into one. The Pré is another long climb which averages 7.7% but it is again the latter two-thirds of it that are more difficult with an average of roughly 9%. A short descent and plateau follows before they hit the easier Roseland. Given what they have covered already, the 6.5% average will seem easy!

A long 20km or so descent then sees the riders hit the final climb of the day.

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The hardest part of the climb comes in the middle third but with an easy 4.5km at roughly 4.7% at the end of the stage, will we see any GC riders try to go early? If not, then it will be hard to drop anyone later on.

How will the stage pan out?

A short stage could mean some GC attacking from the gun but as we saw today, everyone was being very cagey and defensive on the climbs. Not that they could do much as Sky set a strong tempo to try to deter attacks. We’re really none the wiser as to the bigger GC picture from today aside that the guys dropped this afternoon came out of the rest day a little shaky.

Sky looked ominously strong this afternoon and took a stranglehold on the race. If they wanted to bring back the break then they could have but they played a good tactical hand by letting Van Avermaet increase his lead, hoping that he can stay in Yellow for at least another day. This doesn’t put as much pressure onto the British outfit to chase but they theoretically have Thomas in yellow who sits close to 50 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. They’re sitting very pretty at the moment.

A lot of people will have hope that the shorter stage tomorrow will entice crazy GC attacks but we saw today no-one was willing to risk anything, it is too early in the Tour for that. I think it will be a similar scenario tomorrow with the GC riders waiting until the final climb to give it a go.

Therefore it is up to Sky to chase the break down if they want the stage win. They are very good at utilising their resources well and we have seen a shift in their mindset over the past season and they don’t necessarily want to go for every stage. I think they let the break go tomorrow with all eyes on Alpe d’Huez on Thursday.

So time to play everyone’s favourite game…

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Damiano Caruso.

It was a solid effort from the BMC rider as he stuck with the GC favourites group up until the very end of the Colombière when he was dropped along with the likes of Majka and Mollema. With Porte no longer in the race then BMC are hunting stages and Caruso looks like one of their best options for tomorrow. He sits 11 minutes down on GC so is not an immediate threat and will be given some leeway. Furthermore, he has the advantage of racing this stage in the Dauphiné so should know what to expect out on the road. Can he seize the opportunity now that he has the chance or his own goals?

Gorka Izagirre.

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Having his best ever season, the newly crowned Spanish champion watched his brother up the road today and will possibly want in on some of the action tomorrow. Nibali clearly isn’t afraid of sending some of his stronger domestiques up the road and I think we will see something similar with Gorka. If he is on a similar level to those Spanish championships then the final climb is perfect for him as the Bahrain rider packs a very good sprint from a reduced group and he would fancy himself from the break.

Daniel Martinez.

With Uran losing time toady I expect EF Education to go on the attack tomorrow and they have two potential stage winning candidates. The first of those is the youngster Martinez who transferred from Willier in the winter. A strong climber and great talent he might use his slight anonymity to his advantage if up ahead. Although I don’t know how anyone is able to keep a low-profile in a bright pink jersey! He’s showed some strong GC results this year already but can he take that elusive win?

Pierre Rolland. 

The experienced Frenchman is bound to find himself in the breakaway over the coming few weeks so why not start with tomorrow?! He has arrived at this race in good form with a solid 8th place showing overall in the Dauphiné. Now with the opportunity for more freedom, he will hope to replicate that level of performance on stage 11. He broke his several season GT winning duck last year when he won a stage during the Giro and that will certainly have given him a lot of confidence. I’m sure the French public would love back to back winners.

Prediction

Another GC stale-mate, at least for the stage anyway, as everyone waits for Alpe d’Huez. Instead, we will see Damiano Caruso winning the day, after taking advantage of some new-found freedom in this race.

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It wouldn’t be a bad place to pick up your first WT level stage win!

Betting

I don’t fancy some of the guys I’ve listed at their current odds so at the moment I’m just going to go with…

0.5pt EW Gorka Izagirre @ 200/1.

Will post anything else up on Twitter later if I fancy some other riders not listed here etc.

 

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think wins tomorrow and why? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de France 2018 Stage 10 Preview: Annecy -> Le Grand-Bornand

Rest-day Recap

Despite the chaos of many mechanicals and several crashes, the majority of the GC riders got through the cobbles unscathed. It was only Porte who abandoned and Uran that lost a reasonable amount of time. I’m sure most would have been happy with the outcome!

As for the stage win, a trio of riders escaped in the closing kilometres and went on to contest the finish. Degenkolb was left to open up the sprint from the front but he proved too strong for Van Avermaet and Lampaert, taking his first Grand Tour stage win since the 2015 Vuelta.

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It was nice to see him on the top step again after it looked for a while that he would never return to his best after the crash.

With several mostly flat stages behind them, the riders attention turns to the mountains tomorrow as we enter the Alps. Let’s have a look at what awaits them.

The Route

No case of easing yourself into it here as we have 4200m of climbing in only 158km worth of racing.

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The day features five categorised climbs but the lowly Col de Bluffy pales into insignificance compared with what is to come. I would expect a big fight to get into the breakaway and we might not see the move go until the Col de la Croix Fry (11.3km at 7.1%). From there it is a long descent before the road kicks up rather nastily with the very tough looking Montée du plateau des Glières. Averaging a painful 9.7% for 6.8km, the main crux of the climb is actually 11% for 6km!

A little plateau follows before a descent to the uncategorised Col des Fleuries (5.5km at 4.7%) which starts with 74km to go. Don’t expect much to happen over the next 30kms or so as riders and teams will regroup before the fireworks in the final 40km of the day.

Romme : Colombiere

Taken alone the Romme and Colombière are difficult climbs but when they are combined together with only a 5km descent in between then they become very difficult. In the space of 22kms the riders will climb a total of 1400m. The descent will only offer a very limited time to recover, especially if you are already on the limit and someone decides to push on. Taking both the climbs together and removing the descent then it is 17kms at 8.2%. With the steeper gradients coming near the top of the Colombière it is a perfect place for some GC riders to launch attacks and distance some rivals.

Once over the top 12kms of descent await the riders before a flat-ish run to the line.

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The descent will be fast with the average gradient being roughly -6% for the duration of the 12kms. There are some tight hairpin turns but they seem coupled together.

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The final 2kms are mainly flat and the riders will have to be very wary of this turn that comes with just 1.5km to go. It is tight and as we saw earlier during the race those corners are never ideal. Thankfully, we shouldn’t see a massive group arrive here together. The last 1km drags up ever so slightly at 1.2% but the final 200m are at almost 8%. A nice little kicker to settle the day!

How will the stage pan out?

The first real mountain test of the Tour and it comes after the first rest-day. We’ll no doubt see some riders perform above expectations and some perform worst. Who will suffer the infamous jitters?

The age-old question of “break or no break?” for the stage win once again arises. It really is in the balance.

I tried to do some research on mountain stages after the first proper rest day of GTs. There were 6 definite mountain days, with one of them (Vuelta 2017) borderline but probably not given it only had a couple of climbs at the end of the day. Four of the six stages finished with a GC rider winning and it was only Giro 2016 (Ciccone) and Vuelta 2015 (Landa) that saw a break stay out. Even then, the latter was the only surviving member of the break with GC riders filling out the rest of the top 10.

That means Giro 2013, Tour 2014/2015 and Vuelta 2016 were all GC days when there was a mountain stage after the rest day.

Something to think about: a 66:33 split in favour of the GC contenders winning.

Given the current GC standings relative to Thomas, almost everyone will still think of themselves in contention for the title or podium come Paris at this moment in time. Only Van Garderen is really out of it. It could in theory lead to some defensive and tactical racing if everyone just wants to mark each other out, especially with the tough two days to come.

However, I think we will see some aggressive racing tomorrow between the GC guys as they will want to test the waters as to who is going well and who might have come out of the rest day not feeling in tip-top shape.

The Romme/Colombière double ascent should be tough enough to cause some splits if a team or two decides to push the pace on. Although Sky aren’t actually in the yellow jersey, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them ride tomorrow as if they were; taking control of the bunch and not letting the break have much leeway. As much as I want other teams to take control early, it will be Sky that decides if the break makes it or not because no one else has the firepower to keep a lid on things until the final two climbs, unless of course we have an alliance between a few squads.

Sky are notorious for going well on the first mountain stage of the Tour; in 2012 Froome won on Belle Filles with Wiggins third; in 2013 Froome and Porte finished 1/2 on Ax 3 Domaines; in 2015 Froome and Porte once again finished 1/2, this time on La-Pierre Saint-Martin.

They’ve actually not been as great recently with them allowing the breakaway win in 2016 (although Froome won a tougher mountain stage the next day) and Aru winning on Belles Filles last year. Have they changed their approach? Possibly, but I think Froome will want to lay down a marker to everyone else in the race but more importantly to his team-mate Thomas, and show him that there is only one leader in the team.

We also then have the Movistar trident to consider. Is it too early for them to go on the attack? Absolutely not. They need to be as aggressive as possible to wear down the Sky train so I fully expect them to go for it tomorrow.

Right, I’m nailing my colours to the mast and going for it to be a GC day and as I’ve rambled on for a while now I’m only going to name two guys who I think might be involved in the finish tomorrow.

MyTwoPicksWorth

Rigoberto Uran.

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An incredible second last year, Uran has been a bit off the pace this season but he has been slowly riding himself into form for this Tour. In 2017 he won a mountain stage that had a sprint to the line and will no doubt back himself for tomorrow if he arrives in a small group. He was the unfortunate GC rider who crashed at the wrong time on Sunday and it meant that the pace was on and he lost over a minute and a half to his rivals. That will have hurt him as the team rode fantastically in the TTT to put him in a very good position overall. Uran is a competent bike handler who is also attacking when he needs to and I think we’ll se him give it a nudge tomorrow.

Dan Martin.

 

Already a winner at this race on stage 6, the Irishman finds himself the furthest back of the GC contenders mainly due to a crash on stage 8 that saw him lose 1’16 to the rest of the peloton. A very attacking rider, Martin was flying in last year’s Tour until he was involved in Porte’s crash that ultimately put him out of contention due to riding with injury for the following 2 weeks. He still managed to finish 6th overall then, not a bad result! This year he has struggled but from the limited bits that we have seen from him since then he seems to have found his mojo again and looks the lively Martin that we all know. He won’t want to wait a few days to test the waters and given that he is quite far back from the rest of the contenders, he might just be given the freedom by them to go on the attack. There won’t be many who can match his kick up the small ramp to the finish.

Prediction

Dan Martin to take his second stage win with a perfectly timed late attack. Some GC riders will falter tomorrow but I have no idea who, it should be a great watch!

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Betting

One of those stages where it is probably best to back something in-play but for the sake of the blog and the spreadsheet:

1pt WIN Martin @ 14/1 (can get 20/1 on the exchange – would recommend)

1pt WIN Uran @ 33/1 (can get 44/1 on the exchange – would recommend)

Both of those prices are with 365 but they are pretty similar elsewhere. I would obviously recommend going on the exchanges if you can as the odds are much better there!

Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think is going to win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

La Course 2018 Preview

La Course 2018 Preview

After the great racing we saw on the slopes of the Izoard last year, I’m completely ignoring the shambles that was the second day of racing, La Course once again returns to the mountains this year.

In 2017 we saw Annemiek van Vleuten take a dominant win after putting three-quarters of a minute into second-placed finisher Lizzie Deignan on the ascent, with Elisa Longo Borghini rounding out the podium.

LA COURSE By Le Tour

 

It was a case of what might have been for the Brit though as she did the majority of the pace setting early on, hoping to set up team-mate Guarnier. However, she turned out to be the strongest in the Boels camp. Would she have beaten van Vleuten had she sat in the wheels? Probably not, but it would have been a lot closer!

The reigning champion is here to defend her title and after just smashing the Giro Rosa to bits, she will be very confident of doing the double. First though, let’s have a look at what awaits the riders tomorrow.

The Route

With 2500m of climbing in only 112.5km of racing, this is going to be a tough day in the saddle for the peloton. Especially when you consider that the majority of the climbing comes in the last 40kms.

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The two early climbs of Col de Bluffy and Côte de Saint-Jean-de-Sixt won’t be decisive in the outcome of the race but they might see some early attrition take place. Although I think this would be unlikely given they know what lies ahead. Instead, they might be a good place for the break to form and teams to send riders up the road so that they can work for their team leader on the two monster climbs to come.

Col de Romme and Col de la Colombière are two tough Cat-1 climbs when taken alone but given that they come back to back with only 5km of descent in between then they are going to be hellish – close to 1400m of elevation gain over 22kms.

Romme : Colombiere

Taking away the 5km of descent then it is really 1400m of gain over 17km, which makes the average gradient of the climbs roughly 8.2%.

Expect to see some big gaps tomorrow!

Once over the top of the Colombière the riders will have close to 12km of descent and 2kms of mainly flat roads between them and the finish line.

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The descent itself will be fast as the average gradient for the 12km is close to -6%, with it being on a standard two-lane mountain road the riders should have plenty of room to judge their lines. There are quite a few hairpins littered throughout the descent and they mainly seem to come grouped together.

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A sharp turn with 1.5km to go could see some mishaps as the riders will be carrying a lot of speed into it but they should be able to smooth out the corner by taking it wide. Nonetheless, we saw what happened in the men’s race when the peloton had to turn back on itself. Thankfully, I don’t think we’ll see a big group of riders arrive at this point together!

The final kilometre averages 1.2% but the final 200m of the day features an 8% ramp. A nice little finish for a sprint showdown, if we get a small group of riders arriving together.

Giro Legs vs Fresh Legs

In the male side of the sport we often see the benefit of riders who have been at the Tour de France with their results in San Sebastian the following weekend after the Tour is finished. Will those from the Giro Rosa see a similar trend in results?

I’m not sure and given that there has only been today in between the Giro finishing and La Course starting, I think some might struggle. Today can almost be viewed as a traditional Grand Tour rest day apart from some of them will have to travel the almost 700km from their bases in Italy to Annecy by car. Doesn’t sound like a great rest day to me! Some will have bitten the bullet and travelled straight away after yesterday’s Giro stage in the hope of a more chilled day today. Other teams with better budgets might even have flown their riders to Geneva and got a transfer from there.

Ultimately I’m not sure how the one-day turnaround will affect the riders and I don’t think many of them will know either. It could make for some unexpected results!

I say that but there are only a handful of riders who can actually win this race.

Contenders – Giro Rosa Riders

Annemiek van Vleuten.

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A dominant display in the Giro Rosa saw her take home pink by over 4 minutes to her nearest rival, collecting 3 stage wins along the way. She comes into La Course as the red-hot favourite and you would be hard pressed to find many people thinking that this is not her race to lose. The mix of tough climbing and fast descent plays perfectly into her abilities as a rider. I would not be surprised to see her drop everyone on the Colombière and solo to the line. Have the past 10 days exertions taken a lot out of her legs though? That is the important question that we won’t find the answer to until during the stage.

Amanda Spratt.

If van Vleuten isn’t at the pointy end of the race then Mitchelton have a great second option in Spratt. The Aussie exceeded my expectations at the Giro where she finished the race third overall and managed to win a stage too. A versatile rider, the diminutive Spratt will relish the back to back climbs. If we see a tactical race unfold then she is the perfect rider to send on the attack while van Vleuten sits behind and marks everyone out of the race. Give her 30 seconds on the Colombière and she will be very hard to bring back.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio.

Forever the bridesmaid it seems, the Cervelo rider was unfortunate to just come up against a very strong Mitchelton Scott team at the Giro. However, I think she will ultimately be happy with a second place finish overall. On the two summit finishes in the race she was the only rider able to keep remotely close to the Mitchelton riders and she suffered on Zoncolan from having to make the pace. In a race where she can draft the wheels a bit more, then she has a good chance of sticking close to them. If she takes a few risks on the descent I would fancy her chances in a small sprint finish to the line. I think that is her best chance of winning – sounds easy, right?

Brand, Guarnier, Ludwig, Merino and Santesteban are all names to throw into the hat but I think they will fall short. They are top 5/10 candidates though.

Contender – The Fresh Rider

Anna van der Breggen.

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The elephant in the room for this race, the Boels rider is one of only a few riders coming here who wasn’t at the Giro Rosa, the other notable rider being Ferrand Prevot. Van der Breggen has had another ridiculously strong season, winning 4 WWT events: Strade, Flanders, Liege and Fleche. Not a bad record! She arrives in France after taking a few weeks off of her road bike, competitively anyway, while she was instead taking part in the mountain bike world cup event in Val di Sole. That didn’t go spectacularly well for her as she finished over 8 minutes down on the winner. Nonetheless, back on the road she should be in her preferred terrain again. Her form is unknown but that hasn’t stopped her smashing it before, she won in Flanders for example after a few weeks away from racing. She is van Vleuten’s biggest challenger here.

Prediction

I’m looking forward to seeing a very intense Dutch battle on the roads tomorrow with two of the biggest names in the sport going head to head. Giro legs vs fresh legs, who will come out on top?

I’ll go Giro legs and Van Vleuten to double up!

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I think with van der Breggen not targeting the Giro, she thoroughly has her sights set on the latter part of the season so will be slightly undercooked here. I might be wrong, but she won’t be close to where van Vleuten is at the moment.

Coverage

Despite ASO’s best intentions of not really giving us any information at all for the race, aside from some barebones stuff, the race is actually going to be shown live.

It is scheduled to be shown on Eurosport 1 (here in the UK) from 9:15 to 12 (BST). Not sure what the plans are for the rest of Europe but I assume it will be the same. If you can’t watch it at that time of day then I’ll be tweeting intermittently about it as it conveniently falls on my day off from work.

Thanks as always for reading and any RTs etc are much appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow and why? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de France 2018 Stage 9 Preview: Arras Citadelle -> Roubaix

Today’s Recap

Nothing much happened all day until a crash with roughly 17km to go saw several riders go down. Dan Martin was the biggest GC name to go down and he looked battered and bruised when he got back on his bike. Despite a furious chase from his team who got a helping hand from Cofidis, he would ultimately lose 1’16 to his GC rivals.

In the sprint it was Groenewegen who doubled up, making his effort to the line look very easy – he time it perfectly!

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Greipel produced a solid effort to come second with Gaviria rounding out the podium in third. The less said about Kittel the better, he was awful, no cohesion with his team-mates in the finale.

Onto tomorrow!

The Route

The day every spectator has been waiting for since the route was announced and seemingly the peloton have had the same idea given the lack of action over the past couple of stages.

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It’s cobbles time and the riders will face the largest amount of pavé that has been included in the Tour for a long time: at 21.7km of the stuff.

 

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The majority of the cobbles come in the second half of the stage and they will no doubt lead to nervous racing within the bunch. Some of the sections will be familiar if you’re a regular watcher of Paris-Roubaix (who isn’t?!), such as Mons-en-Pévèle. I could try to decipher which sectors are going to be the most important but given previous history of cobbles in this race, it could be any of them!

Expect some gaps to form at just under the half-way mark as the riders face 4.4km of cobbles in roughly 6kms. From there it will be action throughout the day with the last sector finishing only 6.5km from the line.

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Given the technical run-in from the last section, I definitely don’t think the organisers intend on a large group coming to the line together. Disappointingly the riders don’t finish inside the Velodrome but instead the finish on the road that is parallel to it. I guess something has to be kept special for Paris Roubaix.

The cobbles and route aren’t crazy compared to the Hell of the North but given the large number of GC riders we have here, they don’t have to be. Some of the overall contenders will no longer be in contention after tomorrow, whether that be through crashes or unfortunately timed mechanicals.

Team Tactics

There are plenty of classics specialists in the peloton who could theoretically win the stage tomorrow but their main role throughout the day might be shepherding their GC man/men. We then have guys without GC men who will definitely be trying to go for the win, then riders who have GC riders but are given a free card. It is just about trying to figure who falls into each category. So below I’m going to try to split some of the contenders into the three categories…

Riders with no GC guy at all: Boasson Hagen, DémareGreipel, Politt.

Riders with a GC guy who might be given freedom: Sagan, GVA, Thomas*, Any QS rider, Kristoff, Stuyven, Degenkolb.**

*Included Thomas here even though he is a GC rider as given his history on the cobbles he should go well. Doubt he gets asked to work for Froome too.

**I think only one of Stuyven/Degenkolb will be given freedom with the other working for Mollema.

Riders with a GC guy who are apparently working for them: Vanmarcke, Phinney, Valgren, Naesen, Rowe, Theuns, Colbrelli, Dubridge, Hayman, +more that I’ve probably missed.

So I’m only going to consider riders from the first two categories for the win.

The Belgian Cobble-trotters

Quick Step arrive with a team that might not be as stacked as their spring campaign but it is not far off of it! They have Jungels for GC, who himself won the junior Paris Roubaix, so it will be interesting to see how many riders they dedicate to his cause. No doubt Declerq, Gaviria, Richeze and Alaphilippe will offer their help but he will probably need the guidance and support of one of the following…

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Niki Terpstra – Winner of this year’s Tour of Flanders, it is hard to deny that the Dutchman is a class act on cobbles. He’s a bit of a divisive character in the peloton but there aren’t many guys who you would rather on your team for this stage. With his success in the Spring, will he be asked to stay behind and work for his GC man? Or will it be the opposite and he’ll get given the go ahead?

Yves Lampaert – As you probably know, I’m a big fan of Yves and it was great to see him win the Belgian championships recently. It is good to see him stepping up and showing the quality that people saw when he was a junior – touted as a half Boonen/Museeuw combo. Often the workhorse, he might be rewarded with a free card to play tomorrow. The Belgian champion winning a cobbled stage at the Tour would be a sight to behold.

Philippe Gilbert – The rider with the most to gain, he could move into the Yellow jersey with a stage win. His quest to win five didn’t exactly go to plan in the Spring and he often ended up playing the good team-mate role, sandbagging the back of groups while his squad rode away up ahead. There’s no doubt in my mind that he will be allowed to do as best as he can tomorrow but will it be enough?

So Gilbert will definitely be given a free card and I think the fact Lampaert is now Belgian Champion helps him massively in the QS pecking order. Therefore, I think Terpstra will be the designated guardian for Jungels. Maybe. It could, and most likely will, just be decided out on the road.

The Two Cobbled Kings

Van Avermaet.

Currently in yellow, the Belgian has made it very clear that he is going for the stage tomorrow and will be allowed to do what he sees fit. Porte even confirmed that after today’s proceedings with the rest of the BMC squad to help him. Van Avermaet didn’t have a great spring campaign and often found himself marked out of races when he wasn’t able to drop everyone. He looks stronger here and I would be surprised not to see him at the head of affairs. Will he be able to beat his nemesis?

Peter Sagan.

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Already a winner in Roubaix this year, Sagan could have the Green Jersey all but sewn up if he takes the stage tomorrow. Not many will be able to match his brute power over the cobbles so it will need to be a tactical race for him to not be in a winning position. Unfortunately for him, I can see that happening.

The Outisde Picks

Yves Lampaert.

Following on from above, I think tomorrow will get very tactical near the end of the day and having numbers at the head of the race will be of a massive benefit for a team. No doubt Quick Step will be in that position. Lampaert will be the least marked of their trident and he might just be able to slip away and take the stage. We’ve seen in the past that if he gets a 20 second gap then it will be very difficult for anyone to bring him back.

Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Slowly building himself into the race, the Dimension Data did a monster turn on the front of the bunch for Cavendish this afternoon. Tomorrow should be all about him and the team will be behind him 100%. After struggling a bit at the start of the year his form has picked up, nabbing a few top 10s here and there. He still hasn’t shown similar form to what he had at this race last year but that could change tomorrow, the route looks perfect for his attributes. If he arrives in a small group of 3 or 4 then he would be a big favourite in the sprint.

Prediction

I’m going for a Jasper Stuyven win though!

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I’ve had this day circled down for him after surprisingly seeing him finish in the front group on stage 5, a day that wasn’t ideal for him so the form must be there. Other than that he has been keeping quiet and I think with one eye on tomorrow. During the spring campaign he was the most consistent rider, managing to finish in the top 10 of E3, Gent Wevelgem, Dwars, Flanders and Roubaix. Not bad! Stuyven is one of those special riders who can power away from people and hold his own in a solo tt, see his win in Kuurne as an example of that. However, he also possesses a fast sprint from a reduced group and he would fancy his chances of a result in a 4-5 rider gallop.

As for the GC riders, who knows how it will go. I wish them all the best of luck!

Betting

1pt EW Stuyven @ 28/1 

0.25pt EW EBH @ 33/1

0.5pt WIN Lampaert @ 18/1

All with Bet365

Using that saved Kittel 1pt on a more sensible bet.

Buy Me A Beer

Back with the shameless self promotion but if you have enjoyed the opening 9 days worth of previews then you can kindly donate the price of a beer/coffee to me through this link. Helps keep me topped up through stages like the past two days. Thanks in advance if you do decide to do so.

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de France 2018 Stage 8 Preview: Dreux -> Amiens Métropole

Today’s Recap

Most boring stage ever. Although I would be lying to you if I said I watched all of it. I tuned in for the brief echelon action then switched off until 1.5km to go. That new Fortnite season isn’t going to play itself.

Groenewegen produced a superbly powerful effort, timing his full sprint to perfection and winning comfortably in the end.

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Gaviria and Sagan rounded out the podium and continued their battle for green but they were no match for today’s winner. Onto tomorrow!

The Route

Another day for the sprinters? Some might have different ideas, it is Bastille Day after all!

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Nothing much to report here and although the riders travel through some exposed areas of land, the wind looks like it will be too weak to cause any splits. If anything, it might be a bit of a headwind throughout the afternoon. Fingers crossed again though.

stage-8-finish

The riders will have to brace themselves for a technical finish though with several roundabouts and turns to be tackled in the closing 10 kilometres. It shouldn’t actually be too bad though with the majority of it being on wide roads.

As you can see on the video the most techincal parts are at roughly 4km and 3km to go, so there is still time to move forward after then.

Even the last turn at 600m to go is actually through a roundabout but that itself has plenty of room.

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See, nothing to worry about! Unless of course we get some light rain that is forecast for late afternoon/early evening.

The last 600m are dead straight and rise ever so slightly, around 1%, but with a litte bit of a tailwind behind them it should just seem like a normal flat finish.

Bastille Day

There will probably be a big fight between the French riders to get into the morning break in the hope that the sprint teams mess their chase up or fancy a day off. We saw during today’s stage that a few of the bigger squads actually got a rider in one of the initial moves and I wonder if we will will see something similar. If the likes of Bora, Quick Step and Jumbo are represented then the break actually has a really good chance of staying.

The headwind for the majority of the afternoon doesn’t help them though and it will be a tough task. It will need a group of 7 or 8 for it to stick. Will the peloton allow that size of group to get away? I’m not so sure.

Sprinters

Having a strong lead out will help in the tricky-ish finish but it is not as paramount as I first thought it would be. Those who can latch onto the wheels can certainly do well too.

Gaviria Groenewegen Sagan is the big sprint fight at the moment and they do look a class above everyone else.

Gaviria has the advantage of the best lead-out, Groenewegen arguably looks the fastest and Sagan, well, Sagan is Sagan.

The type of finish would be perfect for Kittel but who knows what Marcel will turn up tomorrow. He was out of position today but the wider roads in the closing 2kms do give him a chance to move back. I still don’t think we have seen the best of him this race. I hope he goes well tomorrow.

Démare will be there or thereabouts again but he has been quite disappointing so far this Tour, as will Greipel and Kristoff but I just don’t think they have the speed to win.

Others could be in the mix but I really can’t be bothered to repeat myself for about the 4th time this week!

Prediction

Groenewegen probably doubles up but I’m going stick my neck on the line and go with Kittel. Tomorrow is his day to remind everyone what he can do by delivering a stunning, tail-wind aided, 350m sprint. Mainly because he started too far back and had to go early. It’s a Kittel classic!

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Betting

1pt Kittel win @ 8/1

He can’t be trusted with the full 2pts. Was tempted to go for some breakaway shots but the headwind has ruined that idea.

Sorry for the shorter preview but I’m shattered from work and today’s stage didn’t exactly excite. Will be back to normal tomorrow! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Tour de France 2018 Stage 7: Fougères -> Chartres

Today’s Recap

Close, so close to a 125/1 winner but it was not enough.

Dan Martin launched a brutally strong attack with roughly 1km to go and no one was able to catch him up, the Irishman learning from leaving it too late in 2015.

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Latour was a little blocked in when Martin attacked and he couldn’t chase straight away. He then leapt out of the peloton with around 650m to go and lived up to his “The Grinder” nickname given too him by Carlton Kirby, slowly closing in Martin. Unfortunately for him (and us) it was not enough, finishing a second behind him in the end. Valverde easily won the sprint for third place a further two seconds behind. The results on the day mean that Van Avermaet is still in Yellow for another stage.

Interestingly there were some minor GC gaps but the major losers on the day were Bardet (+31) and Dumoulin (+53), who both pretty much lost time due to mechanicals and the effort to chase back on, although the latter got a 20 second penalty for excessive drafting of his team car. With plenty of racing still left though it isn’t disastrous but it is less than ideal.

After not having a chance the past couple of days, tomorrow should be one for the purer sprinters in the peloton. Let’s have a look at what is in store for them.

The Route

A long day in the saddle with 231km awaiting the riders, a classic transitional stage if I do say so.

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Nothing really to talk about here, just tune in for the last 10kms.

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There are a few roundabouts to deal with in the closing 10 kilometres but the road is wide so we *shouldn’t* see any issues, hopefully. The big fight will be for the turn at just under 2km to go where the riders will have to tackle quite a sharp right as they navigate a windy bit of road.

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Last1.8km

The last 1.8km is like a half-pipe, with what will be a very fast descent leading into a ramp on the other side (600m at 4%), before things flatten out for the final 150m.

How much speed will the carry onto the rise, and how much will it take out of the sprinters? Those are the key questions for tomorrow – neither of which I know the answer to.

I was looking out for some strong winds out on the route but that doesn’t look too likely. The wind is coming from the north later on in the day so teams will still have to be attentive for potential splits. As we all know, the weather forecast can change in an instant and a 25km/h wind could cause some echelons, not the 15km/h that is currently predicted. Here’s hoping!

Gaviria vs Sagan

The riders have both taken home two stage wins so far in this race and they will once again battle it out tomorrow.

Gaviria has the advantage of having the best lead-out train in the race and both of his stage wins have come from being left in the perfect position. It should be a similar story in that respect but the finish makes it more difficult for him. He can climb well for a sprinter and has shown an explosive kick on drags to the line before, but he isn’t the World Champion. Both of Sagan’s wins have came on uphill finishes and the 600m at 4% will be music to his ears. This is the Tour and he is super strong in these types of efforts.

Anyone else?

Groenewegen looked strong on the stage 4 finish but he was trapped in many boxes. The uphill finish might not be great for him tomorrow, however, a good result is needed soon.

Démare on form should be there competing for the win, he just needs a bit more luck. Greipel will be knocking on the door of the podium, as will Colbrelli who has really shown himself on these efforts in the race so far.

Prediction

Sagan. Easy.

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The riders will take the first 200m of the rise at speed but the final 400m will tire everyone out. This is a perfect finish for the World Champion.

Betting

2pts WIN Sagan at 7/2 with Bet365. Possibly get better odds on the exchange or elsewhere later.

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Tour de France 2018 Stage 6 Preview: Brest -> Mûr de Bretagne Guerlédan

Today’s Recap

The stage reaffirmed what we already know: Sagan is the man.

Despite the best efforts of the morning break things were controlled well by BMC and a few other teams and with no one wanting to take a risk with an early attack, things were left until the final climb and sprint to the line. Gilbert opened the taps up at the bottom and had a little bit of a gap was closed down first by Simon and then GVA. Maybe if the Cofidis rider hadn’t pulled then the former World Champion might just have stayed away. GVA came to the front to control things and started the sprint from too far out but he had no other choice really. Consequently, it was perfectly set up for Sagan who came around the yellow jersey with ease and managed to hold off a late charge from Colbrelli (again) fairly comfortably.

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Gilbert refound his legs again in the closing metres and managed to sneak a third place. A case of what might have been for him if he had waited until the sprint? With the way Sagan rode the last kilometre then it would have been very hard for anyone to beat him today though. A special shout out must go to Sky as they effectively set things up perfectly for him by controlling the final 10kms.

Will we see a similar result tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

A day with less vertical gain than this afternoon but it features a tougher climb at the end: the famous Mûr de Bretagne.

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This stage is all about the final 20kms or so. As per usual, I’ve made a profile that you can view here.

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The road drags for around 3.2km (3% average) before the riders tackle the Mur for the first time. The crest of that first ascent comes with 15.5km to go – too far out for an attack? Once over the top the road heads downwards before kicking up again where the bonus second sprint just happens to be conveniently placed. That point comes atop a 1.3km climb which averages 6.3%.

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Nothing too crazy but it could stretch things out if it is raced at a pace and if some riders want to go for those seconds.

A long but shallow 8km descent follows the rider as they take a turn off the main road and onto a slightly narrower stretch of asphalt. With only 4kms to go a small bump (1.3km at 4.3%) awaits the riders as they skirt round the outside of town before a small descent and the rise up to the finish.

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As you can see, the steepest ramps come in the first half where there is a section of 700m at 11%. It then gradually starts to flatten out as they approach the finish. When the race was here in 2015 we saw some probing attacks on the steeper slopes from Vuillermoz, Yates and Geschke but they were never given much leeway as Froome dragged them back to heel and set tempo. Vuillermoz then sensed his moment as the gradient just started to ease with 700m to go and flew the coop as everyone looked around. We could well see something similar happen this year.

However the main difference is this year they face the ascent twice and there is more climbing in the closing stages, 540m over the 23km according to Strava.

How will the stage pan out?

Will we see the GC teams ride the first ascent hard in an effort to try to rid Sagan from the group? Will we see a slow pace with everything being saved for the finale?

I don’t really know what will happen, this is a difficult one to read.

Looking back at the past two finishes here in 2011 and 2015, the first group home on those days has been 9 riders and 27 riders respectively, although in 2011 there were almost 40 riders who were within 10 seconds of the winner but there were significant enough splits in the group to warrant time gaps.

Given the harder approach this year, I think we might see a group of 20 come to the line together, if not fewer and we might see some splits. All of the GC riders will need to be attentive.

Also, on current form there is a very good chance that Sagan will make it up the climb and go for the sprint. He was 4th here in 2015. Will the two ascents take it out of him? Not many will fancy dragging him to the line anyway.

Yellow Jersey Battle.

Realistically the top 8 on GC at the start of tomorrow’s stage could take yellow at the end of it. This means that they are more likely to attack but it also means that they will be marked more by their opposition. We saw that today when Gilbert was barely given any room by Van Avermaet as he didn’t want to relinquish the jersey. I think we’ll see the Quick Step duo attack again but they won’t be given the freedom to go for the win, maybe.

I think we once again could see a bit of an outsider take home the win, just like Vuillermoz did in 2015, so I’m going to suggest a couple of names. Remember, this list is not extensive, there are of course stage favourites like Sagan, Valverde, Martin, Alaphilippe and Gilbert but I don’t need to tell you anything about them!

Breton Boys

Warren Barguil.

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One of the stand out riders of last year’s Tour, he has had a bit of a dud season so far in 2018 with no real results to shout home about. Local to the area though, he will desperately want to impress and tomorrow offers him a better opportunity than today. The steeper climb should suit his abilities well and if he gets the jump on the peloton then many won’t chase him because he is no danger for the overall. He’s got quite a handy sprint on him too so if a group sneaks away somewhere other than the final ascent of the Mûr then he will take his chances in a 4-up sprint etc. Either that or he just rolls home in 23rd.

David Gaudu. 

Not here to go for any form of GC placement, the former Tour de l’Avenir winner has been given a free role to chase stages. Having already shipped a handy 6’49 on the opening few days, I would be very surprised to see any GC contenders chase him down if he gives it a dig. We’ve seen in Fleche Wallonne that Gaudu can go very well on the steep ramps so the opening kilometre of the Mûr will be music to his ears. He will probably have to arrive alone but you never know, he is an exceptional talent.

Prediction

Neither of them to win though and I’ll go with an Ag2R to rider to make it “back-to-back” victories. That man is Pierre Latour.

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We’ll see a few attacks that will be brought back before Latour launches the final killer blow. He’s been in sparkling form this year so far and his win in the French TT championships was nothing short of spectacular – that early season form is clearly back. Finishing attentively in 13th place today would suggest he is over the opening day crash that saw him lose 2 minutes. Ironically, that will help him win tomorrow as he is not an immediate threat on GC and with Bardet and Vuillermoz hindering any chase he will arrive solo to the line.

Betting

1pt WIN Latour @ 125/1

0.5pt WIN Barguil @ 80/1

0.5pt WIN Gaudu @ 100/1

All with Bet365

Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Tour de France 2018 Stage 5 Preview: Lorient -> Quimper

Today’s Recap

It finished in a bunch sprint, just, after the break of the day were caught just under 2kms to go. The frantic chase to catch them combined with the wide open road saw some riders go down as people tried to move up, with Zakarin being the main GC loser, shipping a shade under a minute.

The sprint was really messy but it was Gaviria who came out on top again thanks to some great work from Richeze, with Sagan and Greipel rounding out the podium.

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Will the fast Colombian be a feature tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

A day where a lot of things could potentially happen, it looks as if the route has taken inspiration from the Tour du Finistère but has made the parcours a lot more difficult. There are no massive climbs or anything overly challenging gradient wise, but the constant up and down on narrow roads might make things nervous.

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As you can see on the profile, the final 50km of the day are very undulating and include two Cat-3 climbs along with many small uncategorised rises. Potential places for a counter attack depending on the race situation? Interestingly, the time bonus sprint comes at the top of a hill, the Côte de la chappelle de la Lorette which itself averages a very punchy 9.1% for 700m.

I’ve made a Veloviewer profile of the final 15km that you can view here.

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The first rise on the road is the Bonus sprint point and it features ramps of almost 15% on narrow roads. I’m intrigued to see if any of the GC contenders will try to push on and take a few seconds. Will it be worth the effort or will they even get the freedom to do so?

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A small descent and another short ramp follow before several kilometres of flat and descent. After that we then reach the second and easier climb in the final 15km.

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At only 4.7% for close to 1.3km it shouldn’t cause too many issues but it will depend on how splintered the peloton is as to how easy it is to control. The wider road should help in that respect.

The fighting for position will be very intense once we are into the final 2kms as the riders will want to be near the front for when they turn off the two-lane main road onto a narrower one-track street.

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470m at 8.2% sees the riders into the last 400m where the road itself constantly rises and falls ever so slightly as they twist and turn towards the finish line.

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The last corner comes at roughly 200m to go and given its quite sharp nature and road furniture on exit, I don’t think the organisers expect a big group to be coming to the line together. Being in second or third wheel at that point gives you a great chance for the win.

The final kilometre is the exact same as in the Tour de Finistère so you can have a look on the video above to get an idea of what it is like.

How will the stage pan out?

One of those days where a lot of things can happen.

We could see the break go early and stay away to the line if there is no one of real danger for the overall in it, or if BMC are happy enough to let the jersey slip. Although with the team in difficulty for next year then I don’t think that will be the case.

Dependent on how tough the day is race we might actually have some small GC time gaps at the end of the day if people are caught behind splits on the run in, similar to what we had in the Giro stage that Wellens won, albeit that was a much tougher final climb. We might even see some GC attacks if someone is feeling lively: Yates and Valverde could be two protagonists as they are the type to go for it on this finish. The bonus seconds might turn out handy at the end of the race.

Which brings me nicely to the time bonus sprint at the top of the steep 700m hill. Will we see the aforementioned GC guys go for it there? If they do then the race will be incredibly stretched out and difficult to control with only 12km to go once they pass through the point. A small escape group might form there and make it to the line.

If not, it will come down to a gallop up the finish hill with some no doubt trying to string it out on the steeper opening part, hoping to put the faster riders into difficulty. In theory, the likes of Colbrelli, Matthews and Sagan should be able to fight for the victory with the latter starting as the big favourite for the day. However, if the pace has been high on the earlier climbs it might take the sting out of their sprints. Likewise, if we see a massive attack on the final ascent it could be difficult for them. I wouldn’t put it past Sagan being that guy to attack though!

I could name countless riders and the different situations in which they *might* win but I’m going to keep it simple and just go with two. So in the words of Ciara…

One-Two Step

Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert.

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There’s no point even separating the two of them here because they are both a very similar type of rider for this finish. Both of them are incredibly explosive and pack a punchy effort in the sprint just after a climb. After their success in two of the four stages so far I think Quick Step will want to continue their dominance at the race tomorrow by trying to take the yellow jersey, again. There is a possibility that they might save their efforts for the Mur de Bretagne on Thursday but this is Quick Step we are talking about: they only know how to win! It will be interesting to see how they approach the finale and if one of them attacks early. I think we might see Gilbert used as an early attacker on the time bonus climb, with Alaphilippe waiting to go all out at the finish. Or the other way round, who knows!

Prediction

Gilbert to be rewarded for his season so far where he has been a super team-mate for others by taking the win and spending another day in the yellow jersey.

TOUR DE FRANCE - STAGE ONE

Betting

Tweeted out my picks when the market went live and prices have shortened a little but would still take what they are at now.

1pt WIN Gilbert @ 20/1 (now 18/1)

1pt WIN Alaphilippe @ 20/1 (now 16/1)

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

Tour de France 2018 Stage 4 Preview: La Baule -> Sarzeau

Today’s Recap

The classiest TTT team came out on top at the end of the day with BMC taking home the victory and Van Avermaet moving into yellow.

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The margins were small between the stage favourites though with Sky (+4 seconds), Quick Step (+7 seconds), Mitchelton (+9 seconds) and Sunweb (+11 seconds) rounding out the top 5.

In fact, most of the GC contenders will be fairly happy with their team’s effort and we don’t have anyone massively out of touch yet thanks to the splits on the opening day. Quintana at 2’08 is probably the worst off but he is just over a minute behind Froome. All still most definitely to play for and we will no doubt see the GC picture shaken up even more on a couple of stages this week. First though, let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

Another day for the fast men of the peloton.

Tour Stage 4

195km of flat, albeit ever so slightly rolling terrain as the riders head in land before turning back towards the sea again for the second half of the day.

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By far the easiest run in of the race so far, the riders only have to contend with one roundabout at 4km to go and the rest is on one road with little deviation.

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The final 1.3km is on an arrow straight road with the gradient dragging at an ever so slight 1.4% average. Although the final 500m are flatter compared to the first 800m. The riders will have to be wary of a nagging cross headwind on the run in – you don’t want to launch your sprint too early.

Contenders and Pretenders

We’ve been through the sprinters before and it would be tiresome of me to name them all and list possible reasons for them winning again. So I’m not going to do that. This is a long Tour after all. Instead here are a few tidbits to take from stage 2, if we can take anything again considering the crash.

Sagan is a joy to watch on the bike and his skills are to marvel at. He always seems to find himself in the right position at the right time and he proved to have the speed to finish it off on Sunday. The easier finish tomorrow might not be as good for him but he’ll be up there.

Colbrelli was so close but he just didn’t have enough and he should feature in the top 5 again.

Greipel and Degenkolb were disappointing, as was Kristoff. Interestingly, Degenkolb stated after stage 2 that they were actually going to try to go for the sprint with Stuyven. He could certainly be an outside pick for tomorrow – he has an underrated sprint on a slight drag.

Demare looks good but he gambled and went early. Having his lead-out fully intact tomorrow will help him out, he just needs to be patient.

That’s all we can take from Stage 2 really as everyone else was held up or involved in the crash!

No beating about the bush here, straight into the prediction…

Prediction

I think tomorrow is the day for Groenewegen to step up.

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He and his Lotto Jumbo lead out train have failed on the opening two sprints, mainly because they have been too far back on the tricky run-ins. This is unfortunately a negative of their “leave it fast and late approach”. However, with tomorrow being an arrow-straight closing few kilometres with very little road furniture then their style should thrive. Groenewegen looked to be closing fast on the opening day but he just started miles behind. We’ve seen so far this year how strong he is in the sprints and tomorrow he will show that again, taking the biggest win of his career.

Even though the run in is “easy” we could see a couple of surprise results because of all the jostling around. This has happened a few times this year already when Guardini came second on the opening day of Abu Dhabi. Therefore, I would like to keep an eye on Stuyven too.

Betting

2pts WIN Groenewegen @ 6/1 with Betfred (would take 4/1 lowest but plenty of else in between elsewhere)

0.25pt EW Stuyven @ 250/1 with Bet365 (would take 150/1 lowest)

Going slightly above my 2pt a day rule but if I stick with that from now then it will be 50pt staked throughout the Tour include GC bets.

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will come out on top tomorrow? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth

Tour de France 2018 Stage 3 Preview: Cholet -> Cholet (TTT)

Today’s Recap

Another chaotic sprint and that corner with just under 2km to go that I warned about in my preview yesterday proved to be at the centre of it. There was no room for some riders to come up the inside like they wanted and were forced outwards as the corner was more than 90-degrees and we unfortunately had a crash that took out a few of the stage contenders. Thankfully it was at a slightly slower speed so no one seems too injured from it.

That left a group of only 14 riders at the head of the race going under the Flamme Rouge to contest the stage win.

Démare tried to catch everyone off guard by going slightly early but Sagan was alive to it, brushing off Degenkolb as he latched onto the FDJ rider’s wheel. The World Champion then accelerated out of the slipstream and managed to hold on for the win, edging out the charging blog pick Colbrelli who finished a wheel length behind, with Demare coming home in third.

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That result means Sagan is in yellow going into tomorrow’s stage. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

A rolling 35.5km team time trial and the first “GC day”.

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Although there are a few roundabouts and turns to contend with in and around Cholet, the majority of the route is on a wide-open main road. Expect this to be a fast one!

Saying that, there are plenty of smaller roundabouts out on the route but most of them are relatively straightforward and they shouldn’t cause too many issues. The only thing teams will need to be wary of is their change-over as the timing will become more important near the roundabouts.

As is tradition with any sort of time trial I have made my own profile on Strava/Veloviewer that you can view here.

Cholet TTT 3D

The course features many short drags, but the first of which comes after only 1km and averages 2.7% for 2.1km. Nothing too tough bit it will make the teams ponder their pacing strategy a bit more. The next comes at 16km and is 1.8km at 3.3%, with the final major incline starting at just over 25km, with an average of 3.8% for 1.6km but it does include a steeper section at the bottom with 700m at 6.9%.

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The final 10km are mainly downhill so it will be a fast and frenetic run in.

Weather wise it appears that all the teams should face similar conditions, with a consistent 20km/h wind coming from the north north-east.

Contenders

It’s going to be a bit of a weird watch tomorrow with three of the favourite teams for the stage heading off within the first five outfits down the ramp. Of course, the squads will head out at 5 minute intervals with them going in reverse Team GC order, although Bora will be out last as Sagan has Yellow.

Mitchelton Scott.

First team down the ramp the Aussie outfit sacrificed bringing Ewan with them to the Tour so that they could focus on this stage a little bit more, choosing to have a group of strong rouleurs to help Yates as much as possible. That has somewhat backfired a bit after the opening two stages which have seen the Brit on the deck twice, with Impey and Durbridge both falling today as well. Will that have an impact tomorrow? Unfortunately we and probably them too, won’t know until they are out on the road. Matt White sounded confident in a post stage interview today stating that they will be up there fighting for the win but I’m just not sure after this afternoon. They were podium challengers but I think they will be happy with a top 5.

Team Sky.

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Second down the start ramp, Sky will be looking to take as much time as possible after Froome and Bernal’s bumps in the opener, we could even see Thomas in Yellow for the second year in a row. Sky absolutely smashed the 35km TTT in the Dauphine where the averaged a crazy 57.456km/h, putting 38 seconds into second placed BMC. Their outfit at this race is arguably even stronger and they won’t have many passengers. I would expect Rowe to fall away at some point but aside from that they will most likely come home together. Will that extra fire power help them? Given the nature of the course and the quality of their team they start as the stage favourites.

BMC.

It’s a TTT which means that the American team will inevitably be up there fighting for the win. They will miss the likes of Dennis and Scotson but they do have a very strong and well-rounded squad with them. One of the best drilled outfits in the peloton they will be fully up for this. Having the slight advantage of time checks on the two teams mentioned above, albeit they don’t start that much later than them, should help them pace their efforts a little better. Could we see Porte claw back some crucial time on his rivals?

Team Sunweb.

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The current World Champions will start 9th from the finish tomorrow so they should know time finish times of Mitchelton, Sky and possibly BMC by the time they set off. This will be a massive advantage to them as they will get an idea of the other teams pacing and where time could be gained/lost. Their squad is made up of a lot of strong riders, including three of the six who won that world title. In Suisse they placed an impressive 4 riders inside the top 12 in the final TT so they are clearly in good shape. Can the World Champs be classed as an outsider? They will be there or thereabouts.

Quick Step.

The only other team who I can see contending for the win/podium are the Belgian outfit. Back in the day they were experts in this discipline but they seem to have lost their way a little over the past couple of years. However, we’ve seen the might of their lead-out train so far in this race – they just need to keep that up for another 30km! They don’t have many great individual TT riders but as a unit they are very strong with a bunch of solid rouleurs. A win might be out of reach but they would be delighted with a podium.

Prediction

This is a tough one to predict but I’ll go with the classy TTT team here, BMC to take the stage and Van Avermaet to go into Yellow. It will be very close between them and Sky though!

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Betting

2pts WIN BMC @ 11/5 with Bet365 (Would take 2/1).

Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.