Another hot day today, and tomorrow is no different. It will just be harder with more climbing meters. Initially, when I’ve looked the stages through, I would say it is an obvious breakaway stage. However, the first half of the day is flat and that is not optimal for the climbers who fancy their chances. For you wondering, why they will be riding the Peyragudes again tomorrow – it is simply because I made an honest spelling mistake several times yesterday. It is today, they finish on Peyragudes.
As mentioned in the introduction, the start is flat. Flatter than today. It makes it difficult for the climbers to get into the breakaway. We will see slingshots and we will see riders hoping the more lumpy terrain after 10 km will be where the elastic snap.
After the first 40 km of flat, another 30 km of flat await. Then the climbing starts. First are two climbs, Col d’Aspin and Hourquette d’Ancizan. Col d’Azpin is 12 km at 6.5% and Hourquette d’Arcizan is 8.2 km at 5.1%. On paper, not difficult but they are options for fuga de la fuga and to add fatigue in the GC competition.
Following is a valley of 8 km more or less. Then the road picks up again. It is the Col de Val Louron-Azet. A harder climb than the previous two but on paper just hard enough to see big gaps in the GC group.
Another descent, another short valley and then the Peyregudes. Another runway run-in to the line hence the steep gradients towards the top.
No wind whatsoever but milder temperatures than what we have been used to.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, the flat start is not optimal for the breakaway. It rarely is. But what we have seen is quite clear. There is no team strong enough to control the stage, perhaps one, but their riders are not strong enough to gain any time. I’m talking about INEOS. They should be quite satisfied with their current placement(s) – and I simply find in unrealistic to see G take any times in the GC on Jonas and Pogacar. With no team to control, the breakway scenario is likely.
I think we will see a similar scenario tomorrow. Sattelite riders are key. UAE are down to five riders, I’m unsure they want to do it. I think it is likely to see WvA up there, he is just so bloody strong. Van Baarle for INEOS? Likely. It will not chance the fact that the climbs are, on paper, just not difficult enough to do real damage. The battle will be fought on stage 18.
Bora – Hansgrohe – Konrad missed the move today, the same did Schachmann. I really do have a feeling Konrad will do a good result in some way. He climbed well today, he has good legs. On the flat, it will be more luck than legs that talk but I have high hopes from him. Schachmann can do well with a flat start. It never really gets steep tomorrow – something perfect for the German.
Bahrain – Victorious – colder temperatures are good for their team. Dylan Teuns and Caruso are never good in the heat. Both where in the breakaway today but in the third week of the Grand Tour it is usual the usual suspects we see in the morning break. I am keen on Caruso. On a good day, few can match him.
EF – we all know how well Bettiol is going. A bit of a surprise he was not in the breakaway today, it was a stage that suited him well. I think Powless has used a lot of energy but Uran also has a fine shot tomorrow, do not underestimate the qualities he has.
Schultz – not in the breakaway today means he will try tomorrow. I have some concers regarding the amount of climbs but he seems to be going well. If he has the legs from Megève, he can get far.
Pinot – the last chance, I would argue, for the Frenchman. I will be very surprised if he is not in the breakaway tomorrow despite the flat start. He just need to be there in the breakaway and he can finish it off himself tomorrow. Küng will help him, I’m fairly certain.
Lutsenko – I think he will try to join the morning move tomorrow. He is a bit of a threat for Movistar (and DSM) but I doubt they will watch who will join the morning break. He has the engine but he has been fairly disappointing. Tomorrow could be the day Astana finally has a good day.
Pogacar – GC contender 1.
Vingegaard – GC contender 2.
Who will win?
Sattelite riders and no domestiques to work. A flat start makes it tough to hit the main move, but I will trust my gut and go for Konrad once again.