After three tough days in the Alps, we’re back to a sprint stage, but will it definitely end in a sprint? Possibly not, seeing as there are so few sprinters now left!
<p>A brutal day in the Alps on Thursday saw Geraint Thomas extend his lead over teammate Chris Froome with a sensational Stage 12 win, when almost everyone expected Froome to start taking time back. Vincenzo Nibali crashed out, and 9 riders failed to finish, meaning there are now just 153 riders left in the race with nine stages remaining. Gaviria, Groenewegen and Greipel all abandoned Thursday, making Friday's sprint stage very light on sprinters.</p><p>This stage could see some rouleurs who were hiding away for the last three days looking to get in the break of the day, but even if the break don’t look like making it, there is that uncategorized lump 30 kilometres from home that could shake out a few of the weaker sprinters. It looks to be about 6kms long at an average of 4.2%, enough to get rid of some tired bodies.</p><p> </p><h2>The Route</h2><p>A pretty boring route that takes them west and away from the Alps, heading toward the Massif Central. It descends away from the Alps for the first 30kms or so, there’s a little hill for 2.4kms, then more or less flat all the way until that bump with 30kms to go. The finish is pretty flat, but there’s lots of roundabouts and street furniture that could cause havoc to the sprinters and their trains.</p><p>The weather is something to watch out for, though, it’s forecast to rain and we could see some cross-winds in the closing 60kms that could split the race.</p><p><img alt src="https://images-production-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5b50f14daa35fe00adec3dc2/original-tour-route" style="width:873px;height:495px" /></p><h2> </h2><h2>Analysis and Picks</h2><p>After three tough days in the Alps, the peloton will be pleased to have a semi rest-day today, as the roll over a shortish course toward Valence. The break might make it, they could be let go as there will be a lot of tired bodies after the Alps, and with so many sprinters abandoning today, it’s hard to know who’s going to do the chasing.</p><p>But also, with so many tired bodies, who will want to go in a break for the day? And with so few sprinters, it means that some of the remaining sprinters will never have such a good opportunity to win a stage!</p><p><a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/" title="Free Sports Picks">I’m slightly leaning toward a bunch sprint</a>, but even then it’s not certain that the peloton will contain all of the sprinters, as some could be shelled out if they go full gas up that 4.2% climb with just 30kms left.</p><p>Of the other sprinters, Peter Sagan will have no problems and will be right up there, but it was interesting to me that he was pipped in the sprint in Roubaix by Phil Gil, that shouldn’t happen, and as I’ve been saying for a few days now, Sagan could be getting tired. He also has a lot of personal issues on his mind at the moment, but it doesn’t seem to have affected him too much so far. And he said after Thursday's stage that he has never had such a hard day in a race.</p><p>John Degenkolb must feel like there’s been a 50kg weight taken off his shoulders after his spectacular win for us on Sunday, that has been a long time coming. Will we see him kick on now and get up in the sprints with the best? He hasn’t been far off in the other sprints, top 10 each time, but he won that stage in a sprint from Van Avermaet and Lampaert, not exactly Gaviria and Groenewegen, but he should be right up there in the first 5.</p><p>Arnaud Demare has not had a lot of luck in this race, he’s not really been able to land a blow in the sprints. He came home just 15” behind the GC group in Roubaix, just got dropped late on in the stage, but he was also just outside the placings in the sprint on Saturday, finishing 5th (7th before the other two were DSQ’ed).</p><p>That could be good enough to see him win this now; he shouldn’t have any problems on the hill and could come close. There is an uphill section for almost 1km that ends with just over 500m to go, you’d expect him to be right at the front with his FDJ team, trying to put the other sprinters under pressure.</p><p>Sonny Colbrelli has come close a few times, but they were on steeper uphill finishes than this one. He might not be able to get so close, but should be in the top 6. Alexander Kristoff has hung in there over all the climbs, impressive stuff from the big man, but how will his legs feel after what he’s been through? If his legs are OK, he should make the sprint and could go close too.</p><p>With all the sprinters out, the likes of Edvald Boassen Hagen and Max Richeze will get a chance to sprint on their own now rather than being lead-out men, and EBH could have a chance from a break too if the break does make it.</p><p>Andrea Pasqualon, Timothy Dupont and Thomas Boudat have not really made any impression so far, but interestingly Nikias Arndt was well up there in the top 10 on Saturday, so maybe he’s starting to feel good, and Sunweb could put the hammer down to see if they can thin out the sprinters to give him a chance. <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/" title="Sports Betting Odds">At a very big price of +$3300 he could be our darkhorse outsider</a>.</p><p> </p><h2>Selections</h2><p>2pts win on Arnaud Demare at +$250</p><p>0.5pts each-way on Nik Arndt at +$3300</p>