We stay in the mountains.
Quite the climbs we have tomorrow with Col d’Aspin and Col du Tourmalet. The Cauterets-Cambasque was last used in 2015 – in fact, the whole stage looks like a replica from stage 11 in 2015 with the same three climbs. On that day, we saw Majka take a 48.5 km solo.
Moving south before turning west where three climbs are waiting.
Where will the breakaway form?
My best guess is the first categorized climb that only gets steeper towards the top.
A steady climb.
Col du Tourmalet
It is a very tough climb, one that takes roughly 40 minutes. Will JV come out and play here?
Descent and valley to Cauterets-Cambasque
Beautiful descent, which is technical at the start but becomes easier as they get down.
A very steady climb for the opening 12 km.
The last 4.3 km are 7.7%, with a section of 700m at 11.8%. At the top the last 200m is 11.7%, last 50m are 15.4%. I doubt we will see big gaps between the favorites on this climb – they have to come before.
Expect rain when they approach the climbs. It will be a cold day. Wind from the NE, meaning a crosswind tailwind on the Col d’Aspin, a tailwind on Col du Tourmalet and Cauterets-Cambasque. Johannessen
How will the stage unfold?
The breakaway will form at the start, let’s see how many want to be in it tomorrow. My best guess is that it forms on the first climb, 6 km at 5%. If it goes there, it has the climbers that will be capable of winning from the breakaway. Otherwise, it will be the diesels who also has the power on the flat to get up the road.
What does JV want?
We saw today, they are still keen on using satellite riders and they are often one of the few teams managing that never fails to do so. Col du Tourmalet is the type of climb where he holds the best cards. That means trying to set up an attack. They need a rider up the road that can descend like a demon, his name is Wout van Aert. The rest stays back and helps set up Jonas. Hopefully, Kuss and Kelderman are on better days but Van Baarle does pack a great engine when the gradients are not too steep. Attack and have Wout van Aert for the descend and valley, hopefully they do some damage.
What does UAE want?
The have police officer Trentin and Bjerg but they did not seem in control – they let Jai Hindley slip up the road. They had to send Soler and Grossschartner up the road as their own satellite riders. That means there is few to chase to set up your captain – especially when one of them gets puncture (Bjerg?). It is clear they can’t control it if they are not willing to spend Bjerg and Laengen early and they should not. On the other hand, they were caught where their pants down today.
What does Bora – Hansgrohe want?
It is a good lead he has, it will be exciting to see how far he can carry it. They used a lot of energy today, with Buchmann and Konrad – they also know it is not up to them to attack. They have some strong riders for the flat, if anyone dares to do what they did. They want to keep the jersey, I’m fairly certain of that. Therefore, tomorrow I do not think we will see the jersey being passed over.
I think Jumbo-Visma will set up a move on Col du Tourmalet. I think they should utilize that Pogacar is currently looking way off his best and make sure to build up a lead. Bora-Hansgrohe are mainly interested in not losing the jersey while UAE need to discover the wheel. Pogacar is still their best option. It is not for certain a strong breakaway goes up the road like today. I think Bora-Hansgrohe can control it quite well.
Hindley – He is now in the leader’s jersey. Don’t let the fact he lost a lot of time on Col de Marie Blanque fool you, it costs being up front all day. Few people can drop Gall and Ciccone like that, he is ready to fight for the jersey. I think he will go well on Col du Tourmalet, he always seems to excel on the tough mountains. There is also just one person he must feel threatened by, Vingegaard.
Vingegaard – I think the team should try to set up an attack as I’ve written. Why? Simply because he is the best here when we reach this terrain. His effort today way no surprise, it is Pogacar who is below his usual level, the injury he got is impacting him. They just need to make sure they have riders in front of him over the top.
S. Yates – kind of in the “best of the rest group”.
Gaudu – kind of in the “best of the rest group”. He has a good punch on the last 200m.
Skjelmose – kind of in the “best of the rest group”. He has a good punch on the last 200m too.
Pogacar – well, well, well. Was it an off day? He rarely has those. Is it the wrist? That is what I’m thinking. I will not write him off until we reach Paris, we saw him last year again and again trying. He does not give up. The thing is, he is right now not good enough to win the Tour de France. He will hope it will be a GC sprint where he can claim back bonus seconds.
Gall – breakaway hope #1. He looked good today.
Ciccone – breakaway hope #2. Another rider who looked good.
Powless – breakaway hope #3. Missed the breakaway today, which means he will likely have a few more matches than the ones trying back-to-back.
Castroviejo – breakaway hope #4. He hung on for a long time. He is in fine shape.
Dark Horse – Pidcock.
⭐⭐⭐ Hindley, Pogacar
⭐⭐ Ciccone, Gall, Gaudu
⭐ S. Yates, Castroviejo, Powless, Skjelmose
Who will win?
Tomorrow is on paper a tougher stage than today. I think Jumbo-Visma will keep setting Vingegaard up as long as he feels like it. With Col d’Aspin and Col du Tourmalet, damage can be done despite Cauterets-Cambasque not being the hardest of climbs. A stage win for the Dane.