The roads heading south from Saint-Flour are very up-and-down with barely a flat mile of road all the way to Albi. It is more or less descending all day though, and we should see a great battle between the sprinters’ teams and the break for the honours of the day. The last 5kms are more or less completely flat, so if they have reeled in the break, expect a very fast sprint finish in Albi.
This could be one for the breakaway too, but with the rest day tomorrow and not too many opportunities for the sprinters in this race, I think we will definitely see the pack putting in a big effort to pull back the break in time for a sprint finish.
And if they do pull them back in time for the last 5kms we should be treated to another interesting finish – it is going to be a very fast last 20kms, gently descending past Taix until about 7kms to go where the road drops down at a much steeper gradient for 2kms, before a flat last 5kms. It does slope upwards to the line, but not much of a gradient, under 1.5%.
I think today I give the break a 10% chance of making it, so am going to focus only on potential sprint winners. This is going to be a tough day in the saddle, make no mistake about that, and it could mean that we see some fatigued sprinters at the end of the day.
Peter Sagan is a good sprinter at the end of a day like this, he will get his Bora team to really push it in the last 50kms and try to take the sting out of the legs of his rivals. And even if the fastest sprinters are still in the pack coming to the finish, the way Sagan sprinted on stage 5, he will be a big danger, but he is starting to look tired, stage 8 seemed to take a lot out of him.
Elia Viviani shouldn’t have too many problems today, even though there are four categorised climbs on the day, although the Cote de La Malric with 53kms to go could take a bit of sting out of his legs, averaging 4.7% for 3.6kms. But DQS should take control over the last 50kms, with Lampaert, Asgreen and co. pulling, and Alaphilippe, Morkov and Richeze doing their textbook leadout in the last kilometre to set him up again. He can be forgiven for his poor result in the last sprint as he had a front-wheel puncture in the last kilometer.
Alexander Kristoff was a bit of a surprise to me with his strong 2nd place finish on stage 4 behind Viviani, he got a great leadout from Jasper Philipsen in to the last 200m and was very powerful at the finish in to a headwind. He lost Philipsen in the last kilometer of stage 7’s sprint though and ended up 10th, with Philipsen himself sprinting to 5th place. This is a nice straight last kilometer though so he might stick with him this time and could be close again.
Caleb Ewan looks like a winner in waiting though to me, he got caught out in a bad position on the barriers in stage 4, but actually hit the highest speed in the sprint, just couldn’t get out. He also came very, very close to winning on stage 7, his back wheel jumped around all over the place in the last 50m, he might well have won if he’d had a better surface. I think he will be top 3 again at worst.
Dylan Groenewegen looks like he has got over his crash finally, taking a brilliant win in stage 7, like he did last year. The leadout still wasn’t great from Jumbo, but it was a lot better then previously. His acceleration when he kicked was phenomenal, if he reproduces that again in this sprint he will be top 3 worst, might even win again.
Michael Matthews has been getting better in the last few stages and won the sprint for 4th on Saturday, at the end of the tough stage. He will have the team working for him again trying to tire out the other sprinters, and he looks a good e/w bet at +3300, he might be closer tomorrow.
Sonny Colbrelli, Giacomo Nizzolo, Christophe Laporte, Andre Greipel and Matteo Trentin will also be close, fighting it out for the remaining top 10 places, but it’s hard to see them beat Viviani, Sagan, Kristoff and Ewan based on what we saw on stage 4.
I’m willing to give Ewan another go here though, as long as he’s close to evens I’m willing to keep backing him, he should keep placing in the top 3 and he might strike gold one of these days.
- 1pt win on Caleb Ewan at +400 with Betway
- Matteo Trentin to beat Jasper Stuyven – 2pts at -150
- Ewan to beat Sagan – 2pts at -150