It looks to be an even harder version of stage 10.
Where will the breakaway form?
We start off with some climbing. We have two climbs, 4km at 6% and 2 km at 6%. Then the road falls some more before two shorter climbs. We’ve seen how long it can take to form the breakaway, my best guess is the two first climbs. That means having a good 10-15 minute effort is vital.
Where will we find the contenders?
Three difficult climbs. The first two are the easiest, Col de la Croix Rosier is the toughest. These are closer to 15-20 minute efforts. We have bonus seconds at the top of Col de la Croix Rosier, does this interest Pogacar?
The run for home.
Mostly downhill and flat.
20 degrees, sunny and not too much wind. Perfect weather.
How will the stage unfold?
So the breakaway will form and plenty will want to be in it. It is the same type of climbs as we saw on stage 10, those 10-15 minute efforts. We will see if Jonas and Tadej once again will have to attack to feel safe. I feel it is a stage where riders just outside the top-10 (Bilbao stage 10) want to get up the road here. Then again, it is important to remember these are not mountains – these are hills they are going up.
So the breakaway is likely going to be huge. I expect 15-25 riders. Therefore, numbers can play a role. They did not do so on stage 10, despite Schultz setting a fierce pace for Neilands.
The three climbs are not going to be a strength for everyone, so someone would like to benefit from attacking early. Once over the top of Col de la Croix Rosier (5 km at 8%), the riders have 28 km left. Staying away is not impossible but we’ve seen it can be brought back. You need a diesel.
So, the joker here is Pogacar. We have eight bonus seconds on Col de la Croix Rosier (5 km at 8%), is this something that he wants? He knows he will likely just earn three seconds but you can never tell. I think it will be very difficult for them to control it.
Conclusion: It should be a day for the breakaway. Expect the same type of riders as stage 10, just remember, the selection process near the finish is tougher. It is in my book just a tougher version of stage 10.
Wout van Aert – it is rare to see him get cooked. He is one of the few riders, who can just keep going and going. The heat must be the reason for him not making the breakaway, it surely was not the legs. He will keep trying until he gets that stage win – as he should. It is likely his last chance, otherwise the terrain starts getting too difficult.
Skjelmose – another rider who showed he has fantastic legs on stage 10. Was it the heat? Likely. He is still living in Denmark, it’s hot here above 25 degrees C. He should be liking the start and the shorter climbs to find the winner of the stage is not too long or too steep. He is good enough to challenge for a stage win here.
Lafay – attempted the breakaway on stage 10. You never quite know if he is still going well tomorrow, he is very inconsistent. Given how he has performed this year, I think he will be going well tomorrow. We are also near his home region.
Champoussin – another rider who has looked good but not hit the breakaways just yet. He needs a bit more luck. When we start getting into week 2 and week 3, it is the strongest riders who tend to be in the breakaway, and honestly, I think he is that right now.
Latour – looking lively and looking good. I expect him to be in the mix for a strong result. He was 2nd on Puy de Dôme, the legs are working fine.
Powless – he has had a few easier days. Honestly, fighting for the KOM jersey and spending that much energy on stage 10 would have been stupid. Tomorrow, he should be up there. Colder weather and medium mountains.
Jorgensen – the American is just going to get better. I think he is one of the few capable of riding solo from the top of Col de la Croix Rosier.
Johannesen – I think he should look for the medium mountain stages and rely on his quick finish rather than going for the upcoming mountain stages. He should really like the terrain tomorrow and the colder conditions, he showed on stage 6 the legs are good.
Mohoric – he followed all the wrong moves and attempted one himself on stage 10. I’m fairly certain he is capable of getting in the breakaway and fighting for the win, he did well on Puy de Dôme.
Pogacar – does UAE want to spice things up? I will not write it off. That means Pogacar is willing to pull some GC men to the finish line and still beat them in a sprint. The bonus seconds could be a thing he is considering.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Wout van Aert
⭐⭐⭐ Mohoric, Skjelmose
⭐⭐ Latour, Jorgensen, Johannesen
⭐ Pogacar, Champoussin, Powless, Lafay
Who will win?
I think tomorrow is the day Wout van Aert wins.