Shock horror, the grid start was terrible. Nothing exciting really happened from it and nothing great really happened until the final climb. A group of attackers had got away on the opening ascent and it was Tanel Kangert who was the last man standing out of them. However, he was swallowed up and past on the climb by a flying Nairo Quintana. The Colombian followed an initial attack by Dan Martin and dropped the Irishman not long after that move. However, Martin dug in deep and stayed almost consistently 20 seconds behind the Movistar man. With a lot of small attacks followed by looking around and Sky tempo in the Yellow Jersey group, the duo stayed ahead to finish 1-2 on the day.
Thomas came home in third place after following Roglic’s late attack, before going on to drop the Slovenian and Dumoulin. One of the big shocks of the afternoon was Froome struggling with the reigning champion losing 45 seconds on his team-mate. Bardet also had a “jour sans” and dropped three places in the GC.
It should be a rest day for the overall candidates tomorrow though as a flat day in the saddle awaits.
Pretty dull day for the viewers with only two Cat-4 climbs on the route.
I mean there’s not really much to talk about here at all. The final categorised climb that crests with just under 19km to go could be a springboard for an attack but that’s about it!
There are a few roundabouts to contend with in the closing five kilometres, including one as they just pass under the Flamme Rouge.
As you can see on the video above though, that given the wide roads the roundabouts aren’t really a massive issue. That is assuming we even get a sprint though…
How will the stage pan out?
With Sagan taking a tumble today there is a chance that he will just want an easier day tomorrow, especially when you consider he already has three stage wins under his belt and the green jersey sewn up: if he makes it to Paris. Démare has really struggled these past few days and no doubt will be knackered so will FDJ pull all day for a sprint that he might not win? Ironically with the two better sprinters on paper not in tip-top shape it might actually encourage a few other teams to try to control the break in an effort to set up their man. Maybe Kristoff can nab that win he so desires?
However, I think the likelihood is that we will see a break make it all the way to the line tomorrow as no one will have the energy to chase them down. I’m not too sure if it will be one of those massive breaks that gets let go and the group might be surprisingly small, but you never know. I think it might be 10-12 riders who sneak away.
Time to play everyone’s favourite game again…
It will be interesting to see who gives it a nudge to go in the break tomorrow as the flat route could bring some new names to the fore as the puncheurs take a back seat and wait for Friday. So here goes nothing…
Strong the other day to help pull the break along for his team-mates, the easier terrain should suit him down to the ground. A powerful rider who is often seen at the front of the bunch pacing the peloton, will we see him ahead of the bunch tomorrow? I imagine Bora will be in an attacking mood if Sagan is feeling sore.
Thomas De Gendt.
Mr Breakaway, this morning De Gendt talked about having a quieter day before having a tilt at tomorrows stage as he thinks the sprint teams will be too tired to control the race. He was on the fruitless attempt when Sagan won his last stage but any move that he makes is dangerous. With Stage 19 possibly too difficult for him, tomorrow is his last chance for a win and he’ll go all in.
With Bardet struggling today, Naesen might be given a free role in a stage that suits him as one of the strongest barodeurs in the peloton. He’s barely had a chance to show what he is capable of so far in this race and as a result he might want to put on a good performance. If it comes down to a 5 rider sprint he will take his chances.
Dimension Data have had a terrible race so far with no real result to speak of. They could possibly look to a sprint with Boasson Hagen tomorrow but going on the offensive is their best chance. Vermote is another one of the peloton’s strong men so getting into the flat break should suit him well. When he gets into situations like this he is quite tenacious so expect him to ride in an attacking manner.
No firepower left to set up the sprint and the breakaway maestro takes another Tour stage win. Step up Thomas De Gendt!
0.75pt WN De Gendt @ 100/1
0.75pt WIN Naesen @ 100/1
0.25pt WIN Bodnar @ 300/1
0.25pt WIN Vermote @ 500/1
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think has a chance tomorrow? Will the sprinters come to the fore or will the break succeed? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.