Who will win on the first big summit finish of the 2019 Tour de France?
<p>A day after the TT has shaken up the GC once again, the riders who lost lots of time on Friday get a chance to try to make some of it back with a tough stage that finishes on top of the Tourmalet, a legendary Tour de France ‘Haute Category’ climb, being used for the 87th time.</p><p>The stage starts out easy enough for the first 45kms or so, with just a few bumps in the first 18kms to get over, they will just help with establishing the break of the day, rather than stressing the GC men. Soon after they pass 45kms though the road starts to rise as they approach the Category 1 Col du Soulor.</p><p>The Soulor is 12kms long at 7.8% average, with some steep 10-11% sections around half-way up for 3kms. This is where we should see some teams like Ineos or Movistar push the pace to thin out the pack. That’s followed by a 21km long descent, but once at the bottom the road starts climbing immediately and continues to do so for the next 36kms, gently at first for 17kms or so until Luz-Saint-Sauveur.</p><p>That village marks the start of the Tourmalet climb, it’s 19kms long at an average of 7.4%. It’s a pretty steady climb for 16kms, but gets steeper in the last 3kms, hitting gradients of 10-11%. It stays steep all the way to the line.<br /> </p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://www.procyclingstats.com/images/profiles/ap/af/tour-de-france-2019-stage-14-profile-47abf82b59.jpg" style="width:800px;height:357px" /></p><p><strong>Contenders</strong></p><p>It could be a close-run thing between whether the break makes it on a day like this or whether the GC men’s teams go so hard on the Soulor and the Tourmalet that they reel them in before the top. I’m leaning more towards it being a GC day, it’s a short stage at just 117kms, so if Movistar, Ineos, Astana, and Mitchelton Scott want to they will be able to keep the break on a pretty short leash and mop them up late on.</p><p>From the GC there are probably 10 guys who can win this stage, and not surprisingly they are all near the top of the betting. <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=5051&book=Betway" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Betway </a>opened their book on this stage on Wednesday, and admirable feat three days before the stage, and if gave us an early indication that they too see it as a GC day.</p><p>Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas had been made the +600 co-, with Egan Bernal just behind them at +650, but since Geraint Thomas stormed to 2nd place today he has been cut to just 3/1. Thibaut Pinot was a very angry man after losing time in the crosswinds on stage 10, he was shaping up to be one of the biggest challengers to Thomas and Bernal following his finish on La Planche on stage 6 and his attack with Alaphilippe on stage 8 which bagged him 26.</p><p>He was in great climbing form earlier this season too, winning the stage to Grand Colombier in the Tour de l’Ain and finishing 4th on that Queen stage in the Dauphine. This stage could come down to a bunch of 6 or 8 guys slugging it out in the last few kilometers and could come down to a sprint finish, and Pinot is one of the best finishers here on a finish like this. He did a great TT today, the legs are good and he will have fire in his belly to try to take some time back.</p><p>Geraint Thomas only needs to watch and mark and follow now that he has such a commanding lead over his main GC rivals, but Thomas is hungry and likes to win and will know the significance of winning the first summit finish of the race can have on his rivals. Not just the possible time gap and bonus seconds, but the psychological damage it can do.</p><p>He probably thought that he'd be riding into the yellow jersey pretty soon, and might have been a bit defensive tomorrow, but that plan might have to change now that Alaphilippe is starting to become a real threat and holds a healthy lead over him.</p><p>Ineos are sure to go very hard in the last 5kms, with Poels, Castroviejo, Rowe, and Kwiatkowski ripping the legs off their rivals, before a possible late attack from Thomas in the last kilometer. It will have to be a very strong attack though I think to get away from Yates, Quintana, Landa, Kruijswijk, Porte and the like, and it might be once he’s pulled back, he reigns it back a little and lets the likes of Pinot fight out the finish.</p><p>But this stage is also a good looking one for Egan Bernal, it’s the first opportunity for the young Colombian to shine in the high mountains. Winner of that really hard stage in the Tour de Suisse to St Gotthard, a climb that averaged 7.4% for 12kms, he kicked away from the rest with 2.7kms to go after a great job by the team and kept pulling it out all the way to the line.</p><p>But will he be let go? Will team orders dictate that he works for Thomas and chase down rival attacks? It is likely, so it makes it hard to back him at that price, although he won’t be far off, he could well be in the top 3.</p><p>Mikel Landa is a different proposition for how this stage could be won though, he won’t win if it comes to a sprint finish among the favorites, so will have to attack early. But where will he attack? He is over five minutes back on GC so might be given a little bit of rope, he might even attack on the Soulor, bridge to Erviti or Soler who might have gotten in the break and kick on on the Tourmalet. I wouldn’t put it past him.</p><p>But it might all depend I guess on how Nairo Quintana is feeling - he was looking really good up until earlier this week but he's got caught out in a few splits and crashes which have cost him unnecessary stress and aggravation, and his TT today was really poor - he now sits almost 4 minutes down on Alap. He is another though who should love this climb and could well attack from a long way out too. But we rarely see a Quintana attack work to good effect in the last few years, he just doesn't have the punch and acceleration (or ambition it seems) he used to have.</p><p>All too often in the past Movistar left their moves too late in a race, but they struck early and hard in the Giro with Carapaz on stage 13 coming after Landa and gapping his rivals, maybe they are learning to be a bit more aggressive... Will Nairo be able to oblige? I'd love to see him dancing away from them all and putting Ineos under pressure, we might even see Bernal being forced to go after him, but it's hard to see it based on his performances in the last few years when it mattered most.</p><p>Adam Yates has been pushed out from 14/1 to 22/1 now after his disastrous TT today, he has gone from a genuine podium hope to being almost 4 minutes down in one day. He needs to get aggressive now though and he too won't be far off on this climb, if he can hang in there with the front group to the last kilometer I think he has the ability to kick away from them to win.</p><p>He has got a great sprint on a 10% finish like this, an example being when he outsprinted Bernal and Dan Martin to the top of Vallter 2000 in the Tour of Catalunya in March. The mood in the team would have been buzzing after Simon's (and Impey's) win and the brothers often bounce back in the face of adversity, so we could see Adam fight back tomorrow, and 22/1 is too big to ignore.</p><p>Dan Martin is another who could attack late on this stage, maybe taking advantage of a bit of a standoff between Ineos and the other favorites, if he gets a small gap with 2kms to go they might not catch him.</p><p>Could it also be the day we see Jakob Fuglsang start to fight back? He was very good earlier in the season, and was superb in the Dauphine, finishing a very good 2nd on Pipay. He was also very strong in the Tirreno stage to Recanati, which, although a lot shorter, the finish was a similar gradient. He finds himself outside the top 10 now, four and a half minutes down, he needs to start making up time fast. He looked very tired at the finish to me today though.</p><p>Enric Mas will be watching and marking Bernal wherever he goes, but can he do anything himself? He finished a superb 9th in the TT today, he's clearly got good legs, but will he now be asked to try to help keep Alap in yellow, or will they try to protect his white jersey? Or will they play two hands? Will Mas go up the road while Thomas and Ineos keep an eye on Alaphilippe? Or vice-versa, will Alaphilippe attack and force Ineos and the rest to waste energy chasing him down?</p><p>There are others who will try to win it from far out, be it in the break or by attacking on the Soulor maybe and hoping to get a bit of a headstart. Ilnur Zakarin is one who springs to mind, he should like this climb and maybe after a tough opening week he's starting to find his legs - he finished just 6" slower than Bardet today, so he put a bit of an effort in it seems to maybe test the legs. I got him at 50/1 two days ago, he's still 40/1 with <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4702&book=Bet365" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Bet365 </a>though and that's worth a small interest.</p><p>But I think it will most likely be a GC day, and I think it's a day we see the French carry on their strong run with another stage win - only this time it's Thibaut Pinot I fancy to finish off the stage after a strong ride at the front of the race. Adam Yates might not be far off either though. Let's just hope for some fireworks though, would be great to see all those guys who have lost time take the fight to Ineos and Alaphilippe. Will be interesting to see though if Alap can hold on in there on a climb over 2,000m and hold on to his yellow jersey though.</p><p><strong>Recommendations:</strong></p><p>1pt win on Thibaut Pinot at 6/1 with <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4716&book=Ladbrokes" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Ladbrokes</a></p><p>0.5pts e/w on Adam Yates at 22/1 with various</p><p>0.25pts e/w on Ilnur Zakarin at 40/1 with various</p><p><strong>Matchbets</strong></p><p>Dan Martin to beat Bardet and Guillaume Martin to beat Kreuziger - 2pts at 5/4</p>