A start and finish in basically the same place, a 177km loop north of the city that takes in an easy Cat 4 after 96kms and a more or less flat last 80kms before a likely sprint finish in Nimes. There is one little lump to get over with 18kms to go, it looks to be about 4% average for 3kms, it could see some sprinters struggle, then there’s a 6km descent followed by a flat final 5kms so it is likely to finish in a bunch gallop.
There’s a sharp right turn with 3kms to go, then a roundabout with 2.5kms to go, 1.7kms to go, and bizarrely with 200m to go, but the road is pretty wide so it shouldn’t cause too much trouble.
Contenders and Favourites
Another sprint, will we have the same three guys involved again? It’s very likely, the three that filled the podium in the last sprint are by far and away the best sprinters here. Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff are just on the periphery, they just don’t have the speed to beat the top three, and even though Michael Matthews looks like he is interested in the Green Jersey again, even if he sprints again, he just doesn’t have the speed to beat the top three.
Sonny Colbrelli and Giacomo Nizzolo are 5th to 9th placed guys every stage and in the last sprint we had Jens Debuscherre make an appearance for Katusha and Jasper Philipsen actually outsprint Kristoff.
So who wins this time? Well, Viviani is still searching for his second win, he was frustrated and shocked by Wout Van Aert, he sprinted with a flat tire in stage 7 and just wasn’t good enough to beat the top two in stage 12. His leadout in 12 was pretty poor though, and if anything, now with Alaphilippe continuing to put big efforts in to retain the lead, and the rest of the team working for him or just to drag Viviani over the mountains, I don’t think their leadout will be any better this time. They put a lot of effort in to trying to control the race early on today, with even Viviani having to put in a big shift pulling on the mountains. They could be very tired tomorrow.
Dylan Groenewegen has suffered to get over the mountains and he has lost a key part of his leadout in Wout Van Aert. The team also should now be focused almost 100% on Steven Kruijswijk as he has a big chance of a podium and possibly even the overall win. Teunissen is a good man to have on leadout, but they haven’t exactly worked great together in some stages.
On the contrary, Caleb Ewan will have the whole team at his disposal, as their focus is all on stage wins. Ok, Wellens is still going to be trying to win the KOM jersey, but he can put that aside to work for a few kilometres at the end of this stage. He’ll have Jens Keukeleire (who even knew he was in this race?!), Thomas de Gendt, Tiesj Benoot, Maxime Monfort (who even knew he was in this race either?!), and his main men Roger Kluge and Jasper de Buyst to give him a leadout royale coming through those roundabouts in the last 3kms. And with the monkey off his back, I expect Ewan to finish the job and land him and us a second stage win.
Groenewegen and Viviani should fight it out for 2nd, keep an eye out for the Betway specials, I got 5/1 on they all finishing in the first 3 about 5 minutes before the start of stage 12, that’s a bet worth taking again I think if they put it up.
- 2pts win on Caleb Ewan at 3/1 with Betway