This looks like a day for the breakaway – a lumpy start, a Cat 2 climb after 60kms and three Cat 1s inside the last 75kms, it will be a day that many will have marked down as one they want to target. Being prime time Sunday afternoon viewing and a day ahead of the rest day, plenty of guys will give it everything as they know there’s a good chance of the break making it all the way.
So we had a pretty spectacular day today, with a lot of riders really suffering, despite the stage being only 111kms long, a lot of guys were in the red already on the Soulor, some 60kms from the finish and a lot of GC men cracked pretty early on the Tourmalet. Today they climbed 3,500m, tomorrow they climb 4,700m, but there are no super-high climbs here, the highest being around 1500m. A good +600 winner for us today with Pinot doing the business, hopefully we can land another winner tomorrow.
Betway priced it up early again and they made Bernal the +400 favourite, but then Bet365 opened up with him at +1600 so Betway quickly copied them and pushed him out to +1600 too. That’s an interesting one to think about, I guess they were thinking that Ineos will go all in on Bernal now and he will be let off the leash to try to save the Tour for them. He might have to go early to try to take back as much time as he can, maybe those steep sections 6kms or so out, but it’s unlikely he’ll be given much rope, there are too many strong guys there who are not going to want to let Ineos back in to this race.
Simon Yates is the +700 favourite, and that suprised me a bit I must say. Ok, he looked to have great legs when he won stage 12, he always looked pretty much in control and even had the kick in the end to win that not many people expected (he was the outsider of 3 in the betting).
What is interesting though is that he backed off today once Adam was out of the running – they were beside each other starting the last 10kms or so, but Adam finished almost 10 minutes ahead of Simon, Simon must have just spun it gently up the Tourmalet to save his legs for something.. And Matty White has been saying that they saved Simon for the final week to support Adam, and that his legs are now really good, would be a shame to waste them sitting
there nursing Adam home.. So I am beginning to see the logic in their pricing him up so short.. they expect him to get in the break and to be given some leeway, and he is likely to have a team-mate or two with him like Trentin to help build the break’s advantage.
Second favourite is Thibaut Pinot and you’d have to think, based on how he finished it off today that he’d have a big chance of winning two in a row. He looked calm and confident all day, the team looked confident, pulling from a long way out and David Gaudu was immense for him in the last 6kms or so, killing off a lot of rivals. With legs so good, I think he needs to keep the pressure up tomorrow and try to make back as much time as he can before they start heading to the Alps.
Vincenzo Nibali is +1200, and you’d think that as he looked keen today, but never really was given the chance to build a sizeable lead he’ll try again pretty soon? He didn’t probably use that much energy at all really, he had to work hard for a while, but he had a lot of help in the break and he backed off pretty quickly when they knew the break was doomed.
Julian Alaphilippe is also +1200, and it really wouldn’t surprise me to see him not only hold on to yellow tomorrow again, but to attack and take stage as well! When will it end for Alaphilippe? When will we see him crack? Who knows, but today, it was Mas and all his team-mates cracking, and Quintana, Martin, Bardet, Thomas etc. and not Alapolak. If he can hang in there on the final climb, he could well win that sprint.
Mikel Landa is +1400, but although he was the last man standing for Movistar, after all the work they did, he never did anything – he didn’t attack, he just followed wheels, and ended up a mediocre 6th, very disappointing for his backers at such a short price. Not sure he’ll do much better tomorrow.
Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett, Manu Buchmann, Rigo Uran and Jakob Fuglsang are all probably going to be around the top 10, solid, but unlikely to win a stage finish like this, although Buchmann and Kruijswijk did look strong today and will be looking for time.
Warren Barguil looked really good to me today, he attacked at 9.5kms to go and it took the peloton in full flight 4kms to catch him.. but he stayed on to take an impressive 9th instead of going out the back door. If he was to attack again on this final climb he might be let have a little bit of space again, they didn’t chase him down immediately today.
But that is if you were to think it is going to be a GC day.. and I think it will actually be pretty close, and I’m actually favouring the breakaway. Ineos clearly do not have control of the race any more, Movistar are unlikely to do what they did today and waste loads of energy for nothing, and Groupama and Jumbo might save their legs until the final climb and try and do what they did today and put their rivals under immense pressure to try to crack them. So, we might not get a strong, concerted chase.
And we might get a big group of guys go up the road with riders from a number of different teams. And they could get 5 or 6 minutes as the GC teams block the narrow roads early in the stage. And they might just make it.
So break candidates – Vincenzo Nibali and Ilnur Zakarin put a big effort in today so I don’t think they’ll be going, although they did knock it back and got retaken by the peloton with 22kms to go, so took it easy on the Tourmalet – it wasn’t as hard a day as it could have been. Nibali is the kind of guy that now that he has the bit between his teeth and tested out the legs, could go for several stages of hard effort. But he’s a bit short to me, he still isn’t showing himself to be in brilliant form.
Jesus Herrada could be one for this stage though, he still seems to have ok legs, finishing 34th today, but he will not be able to compete with the GC men, the only joy he will get from this race should be from the break. It’s the last stage near the Spanish border, there should be lots of Spanish fans on the road again and they could roar him on to victory.
Maybe it’s time for Astana to let some men go up the road again? Fuglsang is not going to to win the GC, time they accepted that. Maybe they should send the likes of Omar Fraile or Gorka Izagirre in the break this time? Gorka rode pretty well today, finishing just 27th, Fraile was with the GC group for as long as he could but dropped away on the Tourmalet. I’m going to give Gorka another go at a decent price of +8000.
Simon Geschke looked keen today, but didn’t make the break, he said after the stage though that “My legs were actually really good… It would be nice to go in the breakaway tomorrow & do what I came here to do.’ – So at +30000, he’s going to be one of my men tomorrow
It’s another impossible one to call tomorrow – not only from the winner point of view, but even how it will pan out and whether the break or the GC men will take it. I’m leaning more towards the break though as I said and will throw a few darts at that at big prices and see how we get on.
Bennett to beat Valverde – 3pts at 5/6