Tour de France
King of the Mountains Preview
This year they are awarding double points to all the HC climbs over 2,000m, namely the Tourmalet, Izoard, Galibier, Iseran and Val Thorens. So there is now a massive 40pts on offer for the HC climbs, and points for the first 8 riders over the top as follows: 40-30-24-20-16-12-8-4. The rest of the points scoring system is as follows:
Category 1 climbs (13 in total): 10-8-6-4-2-1 points
Category 2 (12): 5-3-2-1 points
Category 3 (21): 2-1 points
Category 4 (14): 1 point
Julian Alaphilippe – 7/4
7/4 for the man who won this last year, and is in the form of his life this year. A good bet or not? He has an incredible record so far this season – 9 wins, including Strade Bianche, Milan San Remo, and Fleche-Wallone. He warmed up for the Tour by winning the KOM jersey at the Dauphiné, with a stage win and by getting in the break on stage 8 to seal it. He will get in lots of breaks again, and he will possibly start things off on stage 5, it looks like a stage he will fancy, but also he’ll possibly wait for stage 6 as there are 34pts available out on the road.
Stage 12 could be one he fancies with two Cat 1s, and Stage 15 should see him in the break again, stages 18, 19 and 20 have four of the HC climbs though, with 160pts available on those alone, along with a bunch of points out on the road, the jersey could well be decided in those three stages.
There are only two of the HC climbs at the end of stages, with the Tourmalet and Val Thorens stages likely to be taken by a GC man, but probably not the same one, the points might be shared about. So, will he do enough in the other stages to win it? It might be tighter and harder than 7/4 would suggest, but you know he’s going to be going for it and will beat most riders to most climbs if he does get in breaks.
Warren Barguil – 13/2
Going into last weekend I wasn’t going to give Barguil much hope of taking the jersey this year, he’s had a pretty awful season so far and just didn’t look in any sort of form at all. Ok, he did alright in the Dauphiné, finishing 13th overall, thanks to being in the break on the final stage and taking 47″ off the GC guys, the signs were there that he was starting to show a little something.
It was a huge result for Arkea Samsic who have had a pretty miserable season, it will be a massive boost for them to be parading around the Tour for three weeks with the National Champs jersey on Wawa’s back. With the jersey on his back I expect him to try to be involved a lot in this race, and it might be that he hits it out on some stages for the KOMs from the break, but he could also hold back on some other stages hoping to stay with the GC groups and score well on some of the later climbs when Alaphilippe will be dropped.
It will be fun to watch him though, I think he will mark every single move by Alaphilippe and hope to outclimb him on the bigger climbs.
Giulio Ciccone – 11/1
Ciccone was a revelation in the Giro, he really went after that KOM jersey with gusto, he almost kept the jersey for the entirety of the race. This is a very different situation for him though I would think, I can’t see him being given the freedom he had in the Giro to go on the attack all the time, he will be tasked with babysitting Richie Porte. But, should Richie drop out of contention, then it might be a different situation for Ciccone and he might be given to opportunity to go for it. But will he have the legs after a hard three weeks at the Giro?
Mikel Landa – 14/1
Clearly one of the best climbers in the world, and he’s previously won the KOM jersey in the 2017 Giro, when he put his mind to it he was devastating, a KOM points machine late in the race. And it could be similar here. He might come with a late charge in the final week with those stages in the Alps, but that will depend on if the points had been shared around quite a bit and there’s no one with a big lead.
It might also depend on whether Quintana drops out of the GC reckoning as I said because then Movistar could go fully rogue and attack relentlessly, day after day. If that’s the case, then Landa could be a man on a mission again to take something home for the Movistar team.
Vincenzo Nibali – 16/1
Now, this could be a very interesting KOM candidate – He has said that he is not coming to the Tour to ride for the GC, that he will be stage hunting and possibly going for the KOM prize too. Smoke and mirrors? With this potentially weaker lineup than usual, Nibali might find himself reconsidering his options after the 6th stage, depending on how well he goes on La Planche, he has won up here in the past of course in 2014, on his way to overall victory. If he is in contention, then his KOM bid is probably out the window and he’ll push himself for as long as he’s in with a chance on the GC.
But if he does go for the KOM, then it’s going to be very interesting to see him going in the break on numerous days – but he’s smart enough and experienced enough to pick out the big, key stages with all the points and focus on them.
Egan Bernal – 18/1
This is another interesting one, if Bernal goes full throttle for the GC, he could well pick up max points on some of the 40-pointer HC climbs, including Val Thorens, Tourmalet, and Galibier – there’s 120pts in all for those three alone. He will also finish other mountains at, or near the front, so by default will be picking up points here, there and everywhere.
Whether he will still be close enough to be able to take over the lead by virtue of top finishes in the last three stages remains to be seen, but I think that he has bigger fish to fry and will not be too bothered about the jersey. Again, one to wait and watch maybe.
Then you have the likes of Thomas de Gendt at 25/1, he was second favorite for the KOM at the Giro and made no effort whatsoever to win the jersey, maybe he’s been saving himself for this? I think he will definitely have his sights on some of the tougher stages, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to keep going day after day in order to win the jersey.
And then there’s all the GC guys – Valverde, Quintana, Thomas, Fuglsang, etc. It all depends on how hard they ride those stages with all the HC climbs. If they are ridden at kamikaze pace from the start and some of them turn in to GC battles a long way from home, then the GC men can pick up a lot of the 40-pointers. The Tourmalet and Val Thorens have 80pts for the winners, but also lots of points all the way down.
I marginally favor a non-GC guy getting it, as even if the GC men do battle out a lot of the big 1st Cat and HC climbs, the chances are that the points will be shared around, with different riders winning… It’s hard to see one rider totally dominating all the big climbs, but if one rider is capable of it, it’s probably Bernal, especially on all the climbs over 2,000m.
1.5pts e/w on Warren Barguil at 6/1 with various
0.5pts e/w on Egan Bernal at 18/1 with William Hill