Tour de Romandie 2018 Stage 4 Preview; Sion -> Sion

Today’s Recap

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.

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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.

The Route

We have the Queen stage with over 3500m of climbing packed into only 150km of racing.

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@LasterketaBurua

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.

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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?

Beats me.

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…

TheBreakawayLottery

The 3 Darter

Andrey Amador.

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.

Rudy Molard.

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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.

Guillaume Martin.

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!

Prediction

Andrey Amador to descend like a stone off of the final climb and hold off the chasing group of GC favourites.

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Behind, Roglic will hold on for the GC title.

Betting

0.5pt WIN on them all;

Amador @ 125/1

Martin @ 150/1

Molard @ 50/1

Giro Tips

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.

 

 

 

 

Tour de Romandie 2018 Stage 2 Preview: Delémont -> Yverdon-les-Bains

This will be a short and sweet preview!

Today’s Recap

An exciting finish to this afternoon’s racing saw a plethora of attacks go and be brought back before we ultimately had a reduced bunch gallop of 50 riders sprinting for the win. Omar Fraile made it look all too easy, producing a powerful kick to distance favourite (after Matthews was dropped) Sonny Colbrelli, with former World Champion Rui Costa rounding out the podium.

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It was one of those annoying punting days where the three riders were in the mix, with Buchmann squirreling off the front for a bit, Roglic being attentive and marking GC riders and Bernal getting up for 6th in the sprint but ultimately no bacon was brought home. Hopefully something that will change over the next few days!

With that said let’s take a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

A tough start to the day with the riders climbing almost from the gun.

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@LasterketaBurua

This should ensure we get a fairly strong break that gets up the road before things get slightly easier for the following 80kms. The main test of the day is the Col des Etroits (5.7km at 6%) which crests with just under 65kms to go. However, it is too far out for any major action so it will come down to the rolling profile of the final lap circuit which will decide the day.

You can view a profile of that circuit here.

The three rises are; 3.5km at 3.8%, 2.3km at 5.2% and 4km at 3%.

They shouldn’t be enough to put the sprinters into difficulty but you never know, some went pop pretty quickly today.

As for the finish itself there are a couple of roundabouts and tight turns in the closing 5kms but nothing too crazy. Although a turn at 400m to go could well prove me wrong.

How will the stage pan out?

On paper, it should be one for the sprinters but the tough start will tempt a strong breakaway and if we get a reasonably large-sized group (6-8 guys) then they might not be brought back.

Furthermore, we don’t actually have that many sprinters here with Matthews, Gaviria/Viviani and Colbrelli the main ones in attendance. Consequently, a lot of the work will be left for their teams to chase – do they have the firepower to bring back a strong group? Probably, if everyone works well.

Tomorrow does have the same feel about it as the stage that Küng won from the break last year.

For the break to stay away the riders involved in it need to be either far down on GC already, or not a threat for the overall come the end of the week.

De Gendt will no doubt be up the road and he already tested the waters today. Others to possibly look out for are Dillier, Poljansjki, Frankiny and Ludvigsson for example.

Yet, I think we’ll see enough of a committed chase and a sprint at the end of the day. Maybe.

Prediction

Whichever Quick-Step rider sprints will take the day and after he looked stronger (wasn’t dropped as early) this afternoon, I’ll go with Gaviria as the winner!

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Betting

Can’t back any of the sprinters with confidence so a wasted 0.5pt on some break hopefulls it is:

0.25pt WIN Dillier @ 125/1

0.125pt WIN Ludvigsson @ 300/1

0.125pt WIN Frankiny @ 300/1

Apologies for the shorter preview. Who do you think will win? Will we see the expected sprint or will a surprise break make it? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de Romandie 2017 Stage 5 Preview; Lausanne -> Lausanne (ITT)

Today’s Recap

Porte made the final climb his Swiss Willunga, but it was Yates who managed to take the win, holding on to the coattails of the Aussie and beating him in the sprint.

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Buchmann came home a very credible third. There was a big time gap back to a large group of GC contenders who will have been disappointed to have to lose time going into tomorrow’s last stage.

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

A tough rolling individual time trial where the overall will be won or lost.

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As is tradition for a TT, I’ve made a Strava profile that you can view here.

Although I somehow seem to have missed 300m compared to the official profile. I think it’s at the end of the stage the distance is missing so it shouldn’t make too much difference. Oh well!

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Aside from the climbing, one thing to note is how technical the route is. The road seems to constantly change direction and it’s only really in the final third of the stage where the riders can settle into a rhythm. Even then though, there are several 90-degree turns in the final few kilometres!

As for the climbing, they do that once they leave the start straight and take a left-hand turn. Taking it as one big ascent, it’s a 6.4km climb averaging 4.6%. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

There are a few false flat drags in between the major rises of which the toughest comes near the top of the climb. That part of the climb is 1.4km at 9.6%. A good amount of time can be lost here on a bad day!

Contenders

With the lack of flat this is a TT for the GC men and the very best climbing TTers.

Primoz Roglic.

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Arguably the GC revelation of the season, the Slovenian is also a very handy time-trial rider. He smashed the recent climbing TT in Pais Vasco but oddly enough he gained most of his time on the flat run to the line. He won’t have that advantage tomorrow so it will be interesting to see how he goes.

Richie Porte. Flying today and former Aussie TT Champ, the BMC rider will eat up the climb. It’s just a question of him holding it together on the descent and run home.

Chris Froome. You can never count out the British rider. He had a similar performance in this race last year on a mountain top finish, before turning out a very good TT ride. He often seems to go well when you least expect it.

Jonathan Castroviejo. Great TTer who’s not been in that great shape recently but did come home just behind the group of GC favourites today. He can turn that around in a TT.

Bob Jungels. Powerful rider who should be there or thereabouts tomorrow. Will probably want one final hit out before the Giro.

Ion Izagirre.

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The rider who apparently had a great chance of winning this race overall before today’s stage, due to his TT prowess. However, like Roglic, he now finds himself chasing and it will be hard for him to win the GC title but he may just sneak the stage win.

Ilnur Zakarin. Joker of the bunch, the Katusha rider has been hit or miss with his TTs recently. Yet, he was attacking today and like a few others, will want to have one last hit out for the Giro.

Simon Yates. Has to be respected after today’s performance and although his TT has improved over the past year, I still can’t see him do enough to win the title tomorrow.

Prediction

Froome turns things around and takes the day.

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While Porte takes overall glory!

Betting

1pt EW Froome @ 10/1 with Bet365 (would take 8/1 lowest)

*UPDATE*

1pt EW Porte @ 6/1

Thanks for reading as always and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win? Next up for me preview wise is the Giro and Chongming Island. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Tour de Romandie 2017 Stage 4 Preview; Domdidier -> Leysin

I apologise in advance…

Today’s Recap

We ended up with a sprint in the end despite Dowsett’s valiant efforts.

Viviani won after a Froome lead-out, beating Colbrelli and Schwarzmann.

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Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

The Queen stage of the race, with three cat-1 climbs in the second half of the day.

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However, they aren’t the most difficult of climbs and the toughest is actually the first one, Jaunpass, that crests with 70km to go.

From there, it is a case of descents followed by climbs all the way to the finish, with very little flat road.

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The penultimate climb of the day is fairly easy, but it does have a three kilometre stretch that averages close to 7%. I would expect some teams to attempt and put the hurt on here.

A long descent follows before the short climb to the finish.

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Officially only 4km long, the road does rise before we get the “start” of the climb.

Attacks should come from the bottom because it’s not long enough to delay until 2km to go etc, or so I hope!

Thankfully the weather seems to be clearing up for the weekend and we should go over all of the climbs that are listed, with the route hopefully remaining unchanged. But you never seem to know in this part of the world!

How will the stage pan out?

As alluded to above, I expect the racing to be on early tomorrow. Most of the climbs aren’t difficult so the day will have to be attacked if the likes of Porte and Froome want to put the others in trouble.

Sky don’t have a great team with them, so the Brit will have to rely heavily on the likes of Kiryienka and Kennaugh. Nonetheless, they have enough firepower to cause some issues.

It is BMC though who have a strong team and in Schar, Wyss and Roche they have three very solid climbing domestiques. Not to mention that Porte and Van Garderen are both high up on the overall and can pull the ol’ 1-2!

So splits early in the day after some teams try to attack the climbs, leaving an elite group of 25 or so riders at the bottom of the final climb.

A flurry of attacks at the bottom of that climb will see the strongest riders get away; Porte, Froome, Izagirre, Roglic and Kelderman.

The first two struggle to gap the other trio as the gradients ease, allowing for an attack…

Prediction

Izagirre and Roglic are considered too big a threat due to the TT, but Kelderman takes advantage of this and takes the win. This is one of the only races this year the Dutchman has leadership at and I’m sure he’d love to take a win before going to the Giro in support of Dumoulin. He packs a fairly decent sprint for a GC rider so also has a chance if a small group comes to the line!

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Betting

 

NO BET.

Apologies again for how ridiculously short this is but I have hit the proverbial preview writing wall and I’ve started to lose interest in Romandie if I’m honest. I’ll try and have something more substantial out for the TT tomorrow as it looks like an interesting day. In the meantime, check out @InsidePeloton96‘s preview   as a way to get another insight of tomorrow’s stage in comparison to what I’ve wrote. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de Romandie 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Payerne -> Payerne

Today’s Recap

All hail King Küng!

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The young Swiss rider took a great win in grizzly conditions as he and his fellow breakee Grivko managed to beat the bunch on the run in to Bulle. Potentially helped by a questionably late gel, the BMC rider held off the Astana man in what seemed a slow motioned sprint.

Behind, Colbrelli crossed the line first to round out the days podium.

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

Another rolling day out in the saddle for the riders, with a reasonable amount of climbing. With a flat finish will it end in a sprint this time?

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@LasterketaBurua

You can view an interactive profile of the stage here.

The majority of the climbing comes in the middle part of the day but there is nothing too serious for the peloton to contend with. They crest the final GPM  at 28km to go and the rest of the stage is made up of shallow descents, false flat, and flat!

There is a roundabout at roughly 2km to go, but aside from that the finish is incredibly easy and not technical at all.

I’m sure the riders will be glad to here that the weather is looking better as well, with the majority of the rain coming in the morning, not the afternoon.

 

 

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Source: Wunderground

Although that was what was forecasted for today and yeah…it wasn’t exactly dry in the afternoon…

So don’t trust any forecast for around here!

How will the stage pan out?

Originally, I had thought that with today’s stage ending in a sprint that tomorrow might be a day for the break. But with the shock result from this afternoon, I’m unsure as to how it might go tomorrow.

We saw today that a lot of the teams were unwilling to commit 100% to the chase in grim weather. Will that change for tomorrow?

I’m not so sure.

So I’ll stick to my original guns and say that tomorrow is another breakaway day.

Nestle Breakaway Milk Chocolate Biscuit 8 Pack 152G

With the two tough GC days ahead, I’m sure a lot of riders will just want to get around safely and we’ll see a relatively large group with a fair few teams represented get up the road.

Break Candidates

Normally I would say that a rider would have to be over 2 minutes behind at this point for them to be allowed to stay away. However, Trek have been pretty poor this week at chasing down the break and they lost another domestique (Hernandez) in today’s stage so they’ll have even less firepower.

Therefore someone who is relatively close could escape if they are deemed to not stand a chance the following two days. Consequently, this makes selecting some breakaway riders even more of a lottery!

I’ll give it a go though…

Daniel Oss.

The guitar playing BMC man hasn’t featured at the front of the race yet which is a bit surprising as he loves a breakaway. A strong rouleur he should be able to power over the climbs tomorrow. The Swiss outfit don’t have a proper sprinter as such so they’ll look to get a rider up the road again and Oss fits that bill perfectly. Maybe he’ll want a hit out before going to the Giro?

Alex Dowsett.

British Cycling National Road Championships Stockton

A strong second place on the opening day highlights that Dowsett is in reasonable shape. He managed to hold on to the peloton much longer than I expected on Stage 1 but he eventually succumbed and lost almost 5 minutes. Like BMC, Movistar don’t have a proper sprinter with them so I imagine they’ll want to stretch their legs tomorrow. Dowsett could well be that man!

Alexander Edmondson.

After his fourth place finish today to follow up his third in the prologue, the young Aussie will be brimming with confidence. Down on GC after stage 1, he or Sam Bewley are Orica’s two cards to play for the break as they shouldn’t be chased. Getting a man up the road will be important for them because a lot of teams were looking at them today to do some work for Albasini. Of course, if they have a rider in the break, they don’t have to! We saw today he has a fast sprint, so might well fancy his chances at another podium finish.

I was going to think of another rider to name but I’ll just leave it at that. After today’s stage, tomorrow doesn’t really grip my attention that much and I’m looking forward to the opener in Yorkshire instead!

Prediction

A break stays away with a few of the sprinters teams represented and Trek unwilling to chase all day.

Oss to *ahem* boss it and win!

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Betting

Small stakes on the breakers. Not having a great time of it at the moment and my confidence is shook! Although Edmondson is awful odds, I mean Oss is borderline but the Aussie is too short after his sprint today so he’ll be replaced with someone else I like…

0.5pt WIN Oss @ 33/1 with Bet365

0.3pt WIN Dowsett @ 80/1 

0.2pt WIN Campenaerts @ 100/1

 

Anyway, thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it be a sprint or will the break stay away?

 

Tour de Romandie 2017 Stage 2 Preview; Champéry -> Bulle

Today’s Recap

It looked for a while as if the weather was going to hold out, but it started tipping it down towards the end of the day. Which made for very grizzly conditions going up the last climb. I’m sure if that made the stage easier or not, as the peloton rode it slightly more defensively than I thought, or if the climb was too easy for any gaps to be made.

In the end, it was Albasini who took a great win (a day too late for me)! With Ulissi and Herrada rounding out the podium.

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A damp squib of a stage on the punting front but I’ll soldier on!

The Route

A “sprinters” day tomorrow in Romandie, which means that there is still a fair amount of climbing involved.

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@LasterketaBurua

You can view an interactive profile of the stage here.

There is a chance that they might move the start of tomorrow’s race off the mountain at Champéry and onto the flat valley below. Either way, it shouldn’t have a big impact on the stage.

We do have some relatively tough short climbs out on the course but they come too far from the finish to cause any stress for the sprinters so we should end with some type of bunch kick again.

As there is nothing useful in the road-book, I’ve resorted again to making a Strava profile, this time of the final 5km. You can view that link here.

I’ve went off what information I could take from the interactive profile made by the same guys behind LasterketaBurua as there is no useful information in the RB as to where turns etc are in the finale so apologies if this isn’t 100% correct. But again, I do trust them so I’m assuming it is correct!

Anyway…

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The closing 2.8km averages 2.29% all the way to the line. Not tough, but certainly a long drag! The amount of twists and turns in the closing kilometre should also add to the excitement.

However, it was the 900m lump that starts just before the 4km to go mark that caught my eye. As Strava sometimes doesn’t cope with the contouring on maps that well, especially when the road runs very close to a contour, I thought I’d check it out on Google Streetview to see if the climb was actually that steep.

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View one…
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View two…

It’s definitely a hill, that I’m sure of… 😜

As for how steep it is, I’m still undecided!

Facing up the road, it looks like quite a tough drag but then when looking parallel to the road it doesn’t seem as bad at all. We’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow I guess as to how steep it actually is. I’m holding out that it is the 900m climb at 7% that Strava promises! My instinct though is that it’s probably closer to a 4% average.

Weather

We’re set for another cold day in the saddle.

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Source: Wunderground

Thankfully the riders will be happy to see that there is only a “chance of rain” in the afternoon, but I’m sure they’re bound to get soaked at some point.

There are plenty of riders far enough down on GC to warrant a break win, but I think that’s unlikely and we’ll more than likely see some type of sprint into Bulle.

Contenders

We don’t have many proper sprinters here so a lot of them should be able to compete on this finale.

Viviani is arguably the biggest name here. He’s been climbing a lot better this year, in fact, the best I’ve seen in his whole career. Tomorrow’s finish might be right on his limit but with the Giro looming, you would expect him to be in good shape. Without a win this season, it’s a great chance for him to take victory, but I just can’t see it. Nonetheless, he does surprise occasionally with a great result.

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Albasini is a man in form and he can certainly roll over any of the hills tomorrow. The up-hill finish puts him on a similar level to the really fast guys and I would not be surprised to see him double up. At the very least, he is a safe shout for a podium

Colbrelli in theory should be the favourite for this race, but he seems to be tiring after his great start the year. If he still has some strength in his legs then he will be tough to beat.

This type of finish would have been bread and butter for JJ Lobato circa end of 2014. After switching to Jumbo, the Spaniard has failed to deliver a win for his team so far but that could be put down to the injury that plagued him at the start of the year. An 11th place in Amstel shows that some form is there, but can you put any faith in the enigmatic fast man?

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Race leader Felline will like the look of the drag towards the finish line tomorrow. Clearly in scintillating form, the Italian is taking advantage of it and looks strong in the lead. If he takes the win and 10 bonus seconds tomorrow, he might fancy his chances at winning this race overall…

What about Samuel Dumoulin? The Frenchman has had a fairly solid year but has only picked up one win so far. One of the most consistent riders on an uphill finish, he certainly has a chance if the form is there.

Van der Sande climbed well to finish 17th today but was disappointed to have missed out on getting close to the win. He is clearly going well at the moment and should be Lotto Soudal’s main charge tomorrow as Hofland seems to have fallen by the wayside. A good outsider.

Bilbao will hope to be up there again for Astana. He was close today in 6th place but with the finish being on the climb this time, I’m sure that will suit his abilities more.

Likewise, it will suit former team-mate Goncalves. A favourite of mine, the Portuguese rider has performed OK in the opening part of the season with his new team Katusha, an 11th place at Strade being his best result. Tomorrow’s finish is one that he would eat for breakfast so to say when he was with Caja Rural and I expect to see him up there fighting for the win tomorrow.

Smith, Swift and Richeze might all get involved as well.

Prediction

A tough stage to predict the winner of as firstly I’m still not 100% sure of that penultimate ramp, but it’s also difficult to tell how the peloton will approach the drag to the line.

I do think we’ll see a reduced bunch sprint in the end and I’ll go for a guy who was disappointed today to take the win tomorrow; Tosh van der Sande to step up to the plate and start fulfilling his potential!

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Betting

0.5pt EW Van der Sande @ 22/1 (would take 16s)

0.5pt EW Goncalves @ 400/1 (would take 150s)

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win stage 2? Tomorrow might be a triple preview day with another Romandie stage and potentially Yorkshire Stage 1 and GC, although I might miss the latter if I’m short of time. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour de Romandie 2017 Stage 1 Preview; Aigle -> Champéry

Today’s Recap

A wet and miserable TT rewarded the risk takers of the peloton. In the end it was Fabio Felline who took a great win. He was putting down a serious amount of power in the closing straight, with the back wheel sliding all over the road. Possible flat tyre? Impressive either way!

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Alex Dowsett was the last rider down the ramp but kept things interesting, only losing by 2 seconds to the Italian, with an impressive ride from youngster Alexander Edmondson to take third.

As for Albasini, he looked to be going okay on the first part of the course, but seemed to lack the confidence in the second half. Probably didn’t want to fall after knowing I had put the curse on him. Oh well!

The GC guys took as few risks as possible, trying to keep themselves upright going into the rest of the week. Let’s have a look at what’s in store for them tomorrow.

The Route

We get the first open road stage of the race on day two and we are already treated to what is arguably the Queen Stage. Although I do think that is still going to be stage 4!

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@LasterketaBurua

An interactive profile can be viewed here.

With only 2700m of elevation gain, it’s certainly not the most wearing day, but the vast majority of the climbing does come in two big sections.

First, we have the Cat-2 climb of Vex that starts around the halfway point in the stage. Averaging a solid 6.3% for 8.9km it will tire the peloton for what’s to come later but I can’t really see it having any impact on the race. If anything, the descent might have a bigger say in the outcome if it is wet and dangerous.

Following the descent there is a long 40km period of flat before a little 2.1km long, 9.1% average kicker. This could see some of the deadwood dropped from the peloton if a team turns the pace on here. If not, the bunch will be grouped together as they start the final climb of the day.

According to the guys @LasterketaBurua the climb is 14.5km long and averages 4.2%, but that’s it topping out with just over 1km to the finish line.

As we get nothing in the road book at all about the climb I’ve made a Strava profile for the whole thing. View that here.

Interestingly, the rider who holds the Strava record for the climb is Adrien Costa (30 minutes) who set that back in the junior race of Pays Vaud back in 2015. I’m sure that will fall tomorrow!

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You can split the climb into three parts, with some false flat and shallow descending in between.

The first section is 5.5km at 5.4% but this does include some double figure ramps. Three km of said false flat/descending follows before the second section; 3.2km at 5.8%. We then have almost a kilometre of descending before the final kick up which is 1.3km at 7.7%. A flat-ish run to the line then follows.

Will we see a solo winner, or a group of GC favourites come to the line?

Weather Watch

Looks set to be another grim day for the peloton, a recurring theme this week!

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Source; Wunderground.

Thankfully it’s supposedly only raining at the finish line tomorrow in Champéry (above forecast), but the riders will certainly be cold and wet either way. Hopefully the organisers won’t need to change the route!

The same can’t be said for the climb of Vex as there is a good chance we’ll have sleet on it and that could make the descent dangerous. I don’t think it will have a massive impact on the day if it is included or not.

How will the stage pan out?

It will all come down to the final climb and how aggressively the riders approach it. With only one other mountain top finish, I’m sure the better climbers will want to put as much time into their competitors with a long TT looming.

The weather will play as big a part as any with some riders feeling the cold more than others, and potentially underperforming.

However, I just don’t think the final climb is hard enough to create some serious time gaps. The toughest section is the 1.3km (@7.7%) segment that comes near the end of the climb. We could see some strong attacks here from the likes of Porte and Froome but will they really distance everyone on it? I’m not so sure.

The flat run in to the line could scarper any moves that were made on the slopes, but of course it could work conversely where those behind don’t work together.

Ultimately though, I think the stage will be won either from a late attack on the flat closing 1.5km or in a sprint between GC favourites.

So I’ll throw some names into the proverbial hat.

Proverbial Hat of Contenders (Outsiders)

Jarlinson Pantano.

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A man ahead of the times in bad weather…

But no, in all seriousness Pantano has all the credentials and abilities to go well tomorrow. He’s been climbing strongly in support of Contador all season but now has his own chance to chase a result. Or does he? There is a chance of him riding for race leader Felline, but I think Trek are best to keep their options open. Packing a fast sprint, he can certainly win the stage from a reduced group.

Diego Ulissi.

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The climb is possibly just on the limit for the Italian, considering the length of it, but with its relatively shallow gradients he could hang on. Not afraid to attack or hold out for the sprint in that situation, it will be interesting to see how he plays it if he’s still there!

Wilco Kelderman.

Going to the Giro in support of Dumoulin, Kelderman hasn’t had many race days so far this year, only 11 in fact! Two of those were at the Ardennes and he’s slowly regained his race speed and form. He put in a fairly solid TT today and will want to test himself at some point in the mountains. Tomorrow could be as good a day as any!

Prediction

I’ll go for Mary Poppins himself, Jarlinson Pantano to take the win! We’ll see an attack on the final ramp by some of the favourites and Pantano will mark it out, with Felline behind. The Colombian will then win the ensuing sprint. Valverde’s not here to beat him this time!

Tour de France stage 15

Betting

1.5pt EW Pantano @10/1 with Bet365

0.25pt EW Bilbao @80/1

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. I hope we get an unaltered stage and an exciting days worth of racing! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.