A time trial one stage from the finish, it could have been the decider of the race, but that's unlikely now given the lead Froome holds over inferior time triallists. It's not too long, or too short but it could still shake up some of the top 10 placings.
It may be short, but this is going to be a very tricky stage. Although there are lots of long stretches for the TT men to put the power down, there are lots and lots of bends and turns.. I count around 40 in total, which just disrupts the rhythm and the speed, neutralising it a little bit away from the pure time triallists. It's mostly flat, but has a little kick up for 1.2kms with 14.4kms gone at Notre Dame de la Garde, that is also going to disrupt the rhythm of the pure time triallists, as they'll be switching down to the small ring as the gradient averages 9.5%.
Contenders and Favourites
Chris Froome has been installed as the 5/6 favourite and I must say that's a little on the shorter side of what I was expecting, but he does have a great chance of taking the stage alright. He's not won a stage yet and he has a strong chance to take this stage. He is clearly very strong - not as strong as in previous years maybe, but still strong enough to just defend his lead against his rivals.
He is good at these long TTs late in Tours as well - in the Vuelta last year in stage 19, he beat Castroviejo by 44" over 37kms, with Ludvigsson 1'24" back in 3rd.. He looks perfectly suited to this course too with long flat stretches and the 1.2km climb at 9.6%. He will sprint up that faster than all the other TT contenders and will probably descend down the other side faster than most of them too.
Primoz Roglic has had a Tour to remember with his stunning stage win to Serre Chevalier on Wednesday, he was incredibly strong that day. Roglic has unfinished business with TTs in this race, he was one of four LottoJ riders to crash in the first TT in Dusseldorf and finished way down in 65th place, when starting as one of the favourites. The course will suit him quite well, it's not too long or too short, has lots of turns that he can accelerate out of quicker than someone like Martin or Kiryienka and the hill will suit him more than others.
He won the hilly TT in the Tour of Romandie earlier this year, beating Porte, Van Garderen, Castroviejo and Froome, but that had a very different profile to this. He took Thursday off in the bunch, relaxing and joking instead of joining the 53-strong group that went away, and had another rest day Friday, so he could be ready to go hard for this. 3/1 is a bit short too, but I think he has a great chance of challenging Froome for the win here.
Tony Martin couldn't even land a top 3 place in the first TT, a very disappointing result from the World Champion. He started slowly and never really picked up, finishing 8" behind the surprise winner Geraint Thomas. He was also beaten by young pretender Stefan Kung and old man Vasil Kiryienka, but I suppose looking back in hindsight, the warning signs were there, that despite winning the German nationals TT, he had been beaten in every TT he has entered this year.
He has started to look a lot stronger though in the last week, his attack off the front of the break in Sunday's stage was super impressive, he quickly put 1'30" between him and the big break he was a part of in an effort to get enough of a buffer before hitting the final climb. The hill might be his undoing though, he will crawl up that compared to some others.
Stefan Kung came very close to winning on stage 1, but since then, we've barely seen him. He has done nothing really and may well have just been hiding himself away for three weeks in anticipation of this final test. He did brilliantly in the first stage though to finish 2nd, one of the best TT performances of his career. It's been a tough Tour though and BMC have had a disappointing race, I'm not sure what sort of form Kung will be in at the end of these three weeks, can we trust him at just 10/1?
Jonathan Castroviejo has had a relatively easy Tour compared to what it could have been like, no Valverde or Quintana challenging has meant that the rest of the Movistar support team have barely been seen this race. But will that mean he has more energy than others for this final TT?
He won the Spanish TT champs a few weeks back on a hilly course over 43kms, he seems to need a slightly longer course to get going. The hill won't inconvenience a Spanish Movistar rider too much either, and he has done well in TTs at the end of a Grand Tour, his 2nd to Froome in the Vuelta last year springs to mind. I don't like losing twice on a rider who let us down previously, but at 25/1 he might be worth a small interest e/w.
Rigo Uran is fighting for 2nd now with Romain Bardet, he has just 6" to make up on him and it is pretty likely he will do so. That motivation is sure to have him riding the TT of his life here. Once upon a time Rigo won a TT in the Giro (2014) in the vineyards of the Barolo region I think it was, but since then he has been a bit of a disaster in TTs, whether it was lack of form, lack of motivation or lack of interest, he has been appalling in TTs since, averaging around 50th place. He won’t be winning, but he should make up more than enough time to pass out Bardet for 2nd.
Vasil Kiryienka has worked hard this Tour for his leader, pulling at the front in the earlier skirmishes, keeping breaks under control before the mountain goats have taken over. We've seen him peel to the side and almost come to a standstill, he had expended so much energy on some of the climbs, so what kind of shape can we expect to see him in for this TT? I think he’ll struggle and I'm thinking 5th to 10th for him.
Michal Kwiatkowski was dead on his feet on Thursday, he had gone so deep he actually had to stop when he pulled over, he must have been almost blind with the pain. I'm not sure he'll be able to go too hard in this stage so I'm going to pass over him. Michael Matthews and some of the other sprinters who did well in the first TT will not do so well on a longer TT with a hill like this, and besides, he'll be saving his legs for tomorrow. He opened at a crazy 500/1 with PP, but that lasted minutes, he's now 66/1.. 500/1 was worth a shot, 66/1 isn't.
I want to back Roglic, hopefully someone will go 4/1 on him and I’ll have a decent bet I think, otherwise I might go big on him to place with a small bet on him at 3/1 to win too, I think I'll take a little bit of Castroviejo at 25/1 e/w as well.
Free Tour De France Picks:
0.3pts e/w on Jonathan Castroviejo at 25/1 with Paddy Power
Look to take 4/1 if it ever comes available on Primoz Roglic, take 2pts win on him at 3/1 if that’s the best available