The last sprint before Paris, or is it?
Despite this being a flat stage, think back to what I wrote for stage 17. These stages can fool the sprinters, and with Côte de Bois de Lionge to form a strong breakaway and Côte d’Ivory to scare away the pure sprinters, it is not certain we see a bunch sprint.
Côte de Bois de Lionge is the first climb of the stage, but there are two 1.5 km climbs around 5% before it.
Côte d’Ivory is not hard enough to drop the likes of Girmay, Pedersen or Phillipsen but some of the rest will fear it this late in the race.
The last turn is 8400m from the line. The road is just 6.50m wide.
How will the stage unfold?
Alpecin-Deceuninck seems to be willing to work for Phillipsen and that is a big plus for everyone who has a sprinter. Tomorrow is also a day where I think Lidl-Trek would want to work for Mads Pedersen and Intermarché for Girmay. I think it can be difficult for the pure sprinters (Groenewegen) to stay in the peloton after the last climb. If they start near the front, they should be able to hang on but they may get dropped near the top.
Then there is 28.5 km from the top to the line. Plus, they should have a tailwind/cross tailwind on the climb. After the top, they have a section with a headwind before the finishing straight where the riders have a tailwind.
The breakaway also stands a good chance. As mentioned, there are a few hills early on and if a big group goes, it can stay away. It is the good old game of cat and mouse.
Phillipsen – he should start the stage as the favorite. He has the best legs and the best lead-out.
Pedersen – will he attempt to win from the breakaway or from the peloton? I think the first option is the best option. He and Stuyven are still going well and that is a strong duo.
Laporte – I hope he gets a free card. He is very strong this late in a Grand Tour hence why he took a stage here last season.
Girmay – he has not been as strong as I thought he would be. I imagine he is one of the sprinters still with something left in the legs, he is a good climber.
Coquard – the Frenchman also goes well late in a Grand Tour. Some of the sprinters will have sore legs, he likely won’t.
Mohoric – breakaway hope #1. It is crazt to think he missed so many early breakaways.
Cavagna – breakaway hope #2. The TT was a good sign.
Cort – breakaway hope #3. Rumors are he has something left in the legs.
MvdP – breakaway hope #4. Lead out or to try his own luck?
Burgaudeau – breakaway hope #5. He is going well.
⭐⭐⭐ Phillipsen, Mohoric
⭐⭐ Pedersen, Laporte, Mathieu van der Poel
⭐ Coquard, Girmay, Cavagna, Burgaudeau
Who will win?
I will tip the favor to the breakaway, it is the last shot for many. A win for Magnus Cort.