Tour de France 2017 Stage 12 Preview; Pau -> Peyragudes

Today’s Recap


I’m all for having sprints in the Tour as every rider needs some type of terrain to showcase their talents, but I’m definitely glad we don’t have another one tomorrow.

With regards to what the other sprint teams were doing today, I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. No guts or courage to try something different. Instead Katusha and Lotto Soudal were happy to help pull all day and they were duly rewarded with 12th and 7th place finishes respectively.

Of course Kittel won again, he’s just too good at this moment!


Groenewegen finished fast to come home second, with Boasson Hagen rewarding his strong lead-out with a third place. A good day in one sense as I tweeted out to back EBH in-play as I thought the technical run in might suit his team and it did, but I would loved to have seen something more gutsy from the sprint teams.

A big “fair-play” though must go to Bodnar who held off the bunch for oh so long, only to be caught within sight of the finish line.

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

The Route

After three rest-days, we finally have a stage that might entice some action.


A long day out in the saddle, the riders will have to contend with some rolling roads for the first 55km of the day before they hit the first categorised climb. However, it won’t really be until after 120km that things get serious. The Col de Menté averages a very steep 8.1% for 6.9km. This is where we could see some of the GC teams come to the fore, maybe hoping to apply some early pressure but I think that’s unlikely. Instead, it is more likely to be where the break splits up, especially if we have a larger group.

Once over the summit the riders will tackle 10km of descent, along with 10km of valley roads before the road starts rising again up the Port de Balès. Officially 11.7km at 7.7%, the riders will actually be climbing for ~20km at 5.7%.


Considering the riders descend almost all the way from the summit, there are only a few flat sections, to the foot slopes of the Col de Peyreseurde, it will be interesting to see if any riders attack early.

The Peyreseurde itself is shorter than Balès and is a lot more consistent, making it more suited for riders who are able to get themselves into a steady pace. Will we see some attacks? I sure hope so and I think we will, it’s just a case of when?!

The descent from the Peyreseurde is very straight forward, I’m sure the riders will be glad to know that, and they’ll hope to carry as much speed as possible into the tough final 3kms. A final kilometre at 13% is a brutal way to end the stage and with all the climbing that comes before riders can blow up massively here and lose a lot of time.

How will the stage pan out?

A classic 50/50 stage where the breakaway could stay away, but there is also a chance that the GC teams control it for the final few climbs and hope to get some bonus seconds.

There are faults with both plans though.

Firstly for the break, it will no doubt be a massive fight to get into the move and I wouldn’t be surprised if we only see the elastic snap after an hour of racing. The issue that lies here is that it will more than likely be strong rouleurs who make the move, with the flatter start being difficult for climbers to get in. No doubt there will be a few who sneak their way into it but it will certainly be tough. The steep gradients of the climbs make it hard for a rouleur to win so in a cruel twist of fate, while the break might be easier for them to make it into, it will be harder for them to win!

There are obviously riders in the peloton who can do both and they’ll be eyeing up this stage.

As for the GC riders going for stage victory; it depends on Sky’s attitude. If they are in their usual controlling mood then there is a good chance we’ll see a GC winner. Froome looks strong just now and is growing into the race but will he feel ready enough to attack the stage? I’m not sure. It is an easy day for Sky to control if they want to, with the tough climbs coming in the second half of the stage.

The crashes of Bardet and Fuglsang today might have a negative impact on the GC riders willingness to go for the win.

Furthermore, with a crazy stage coming the following day, I think we’ll see the break take it tomorrow. So time to play everyone’s favourite game again…



Names in hat time, so I’ll highlight a few possible contenders like always.

Andrew Talansky.

Amgen Tour of California 2017 - 5

One of those riders who might not be allowed away if he is to protect team-leader Uran, but on the other hand he could be sent up the road to help later on. If the break gets a big lead then Talansky is a strong enough climber to take the win.

Diego Ulissi.

The UAE rider has been very quiet so far this race, maybe saving his energy to attack on a stage? The steep gradients tomorrow should suit the punchy Italian and he is in relatively good form, finishing 2nd at the recent Italian National Championships. Although the length of the climbs might be tough, but he has went well in hard stages at the Giro in the past. Meintjes has struggled a bit on GC so far, and I think UAE will allow Ulissi to go on the offensive tomorrow, will he take his chance?

Fabio Felline.

Another rider who hasn’t been able to take his own chances so far due to having to help team-leader Contador. Yet, the Spaniard hasn’t been great this Tour (as was almost expected) and I think we’ll see Trek adopt an aggressive approach to the rest of the race. Felline isn’t known for his mountain climbing, but like Ulissi he is good on the punchy stuff. He’s a strong rider who’s having a great season and a good result tomorrow would take that even further.

Philippe Gilbert.


Talking about riders who’ve had great seasons…Gilbert has had an incredible 2017 so far and he is surely targeting a Tour stage win at some point. He was active in the break on Planche des Belles Filles and was actually the last man standing, putting in a very impressive display of climbing. Tomorrow is a whole different ballgame but he is certainly not a rider to be discounted. Like many others, it all depends if he’s given the freedom and doesn’t have to work for his team leader. He did a lot of work today pulling at the front of the bunch, stretching his legs for a good hit-out tomorrow! Or that’s what I’m making of it anyway. 😜 A wild card given the climbing talent here but you never know.


Break stays away by around a minute and Diego Ulissi takes a memorable victory.

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0.4pt EW Ulissi @ 100/1 (Boyles – 4 places)

0.25pt EW Talansky @ 150/1 (Ladbrokes/Coral/PP/Betfair)

0.25pt EW Felline @ 150/1 (Boyles – 4 places)

0.1pt EW Gilbert @ 300/1 (PP/BF)


Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will the break survive all the way or will we see a GC battle for the stage win? I’m just hoping for a good day’s racing! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.









Giro stage 12: Noale – Bibione

Today’s Recap

Definitely not as easy a day as some thought. A big crash and the only categorised climb ripped the race apart, with only GC contenders left at the front over the summit.

Amador attacked, Jungels countered. Then some stalling behind saw more riders rejoin. Ulissi drove clear of the group behind up the final climb, catching Amador and Jungels. The latter drove the group, trying to get as much time over the rest of the GC favourites behind. Ulissi sprinted for another fantastic win, his second of the race.


*I apologise in advance if this is shorter and more blunt than normal, I’m terribly hungover*

The Route

Flat. Very, very flat.


This is one of those stages where if you miss the first 180km, don’t be too concerned!

The most interesting part of this stage will be the circuit that they cover in the finishing town of Bibione.

The finishing circuit

It’s a very technical closing circuit, with lots of 90-degree turns that will kill the momentum of the riders. Positioning will be crucial in the final lap. But so will bravery, because if the riders are willing to take risks through the corners then they can save a lot of energy/drop those behind. This is particularly true if the person behind isn’t as confident and loses the wheel.

Weather Watch

Another reason why the risk-takers of the peloton will more than likely be rewarded is due to the weather forecast. Like much of this Giro, we’ve been given some chance of rain at the finish line. However, it seems various outlets are confident of this, which makes it seem more likely! *Fingers Crossed*

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Forecast for Bibione

The rain will make the closing circuit even more difficult for the riders, with more precarious corners etc.

Some of the riders will not like the look of this.

Who are the stage contenders?

Let’s start with the only sprinter left in this race who’s won a stage: Greipel. The fastest and most powerful rider left (after Kittel’s withdrawal) on paper he should be the favourite. However, as the cliché goes, nothing is ever won on paper. I don’t think Greipel will win tomorrow. Mainly due to the inclement weather conditions as Greipel goes missing when the conditions get tricky. I said something similar for the Stage 7 preview. We didn’t get the rain that time round, I’m more confident  we’ll get it this time. Greipel won’t podium.


Nizzolo was second that day and has to be considered here. He won the bunch sprint today, so is clearly going well. I’m just not convinced by his lead-out.

Demare probably has the longest lead-out left. They didn’t get it right on Stage 7 and a few of them went down/are unknown quantities after today’s crash so I’d avoid him. I also question if he would want to risk a severe injury, considering this is the Giro and not the Tour. Therefore…


Someone who will take risks tomorrow is Modolo. Again, like the Stage 7 preview, Modolo has all the credentials to go well here. He’s an excellent bike handler so will be able to manage the sharp turns perfectly. Furthermore, in Ferrari, he has an exceptional lead-out man for this type of sprint. Modolo has to start as joint-favourite at least for this (with Nizzolo) in my opinion.

Who else can compete?

Ewan looks the most suitable candidate. His criterium based background will hold him in good stead for tomorrow. Being young as well, he’s not as afraid and has a larger incline to take risks.

I guess the likes of Hofland, Trentin and maybe Ruffoni, Arndt and Belleti could get involved.

Leigh Howard also might fancy a go at it (after his impromptu fishing trip today). He won a crit-style race at the Clasica de Almeria earlier in the year.


Modolo wins. The master of the tricky finale.

Ferrari will once again give him an excellent lead-out and he’ll get the first Italian sprint win at this year’s Giro.


Ewan and Nizzolo will round out the podium (in that order).


Pretty simple stage betting wise. There is no way that the break will succeed as it’s the sprinters final chance before we get to stage 17 (maybe) or the final stage into Torino.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 22.13.35

When I tweeted it out he was available at 10/1. He’s now priced at 9/1 with Betway, but is lower elsewhere. I’d say he’s value down to 5/1.


Hope you enjoyed today’s racing as we’re more than likely in for a snooze-fest tomorrow! I plan on being productive and writing the bulk of my preview tomorrow during the race, so it will just be a case of waiting on odds, so it should be out a lot earlier! Apologies again for the shorter length, I’m hungover and there’s not really that much to say. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.