This is the shortest road stage in 30 years of the Tour de France at 65 kilometres, but with 38kms of brutal climbing right from the start, expect fireworks!
<p>Just to mix things up a little more, the ASO have introduced another gimmick to this year's Tour. There is going to be a staggered handicap-style start to the race, but instead of the higher GC riders going off last like in a TT, they are setting off first. The top 20 on GC will go first, followed by the rest of the peloton in four groups, depending on where they sit on the GC. And who knows what's going to happen once the race starts.</p><p>Unlucky Tuesday with our Bauke Mollema pick, he was in the 2nd group on the road behind Alaphilippe, the winner, but didn’t sprint for the place for us, he came home 4th. It was a crazy stage with protests and tear gas attacks and a monster break of 47 riders going away from the peloton. The GC men all came home together so it’s still game on for the next 4 stages.</p><p> </p><h2>The Route</h2><p>Just 65kms, 38kms of which are climbing, about 10kms on flattish roads, the remaining 17kms descending. The race starts out from Bagneres de Luchon and heads west all day, but a straight line it is anything but. The race zig-zags its way up and down the three hills, and it will probably feel a lot longer than 65kms to the riders, especially those out the back who will be racing to make the time cut.</p><p>The final climb of the day will be the decisive one though, the Col du Portet is a nasty, twisting, steep climb that averages 8.7% for 16kms, but there are lots of steep black bits on the way that average 9%, 10% and more, including the last kilometre which averages 10.2%.</p><p><img alt src="https://images-production-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5b57926f4afd5b008dc955cb/original-tour-route" style="width:870px;height:493px" /></p><h2>Analysis and Picks</h2><p>This is a new one for all of us, so how do you even begin to predict what’s going to happen? The staggered start is going to be interesting, and as we all probably expect, and I’ve even heard the same from a pro, Movistar are sure to try to go from the gun here to blow things up.</p><p>Movistar have Landa and Quintana in the first group, with Valverde in the second group, so I can see Movistar having 3 guys in the leading group pretty quickly and going full gas from the start. Sky also have Froome, Thomas in the first group, but Bernal is in the third group and the rest of them are a long way back, if Movistar go full gas from the start, Bernal might not catch up.</p><p>Lotto Jumbo have Roglic and Kruijswijk too in the top 10, so it is in their interest probably to team up with Movistar and try to derail Sky, Roglic could put time in to them and go very close with that TT at the end.</p><p>As it’s uphill straight from the start it could be hard for domestiques and lower ranked riders to make their way up and attack, and with so much at stake with so few days remaining, I think it will be a GC day.</p><p>So who will come out on top? <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/more-sports/" title="Free Sports Picks">Froome and Thomas have been so strong, they could easily win this stage</a>, despite maybe being under attack from the off. They can follow, they can let others burn themselves off and then finish it off. We know Froome can get stronger in the third week of a Tour, but what effect will the Giro have on him this time in the third week? And what about Thomas? He doesn’t have form in the third week of a GT, so it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to them.</p><p>Landa will probably attack early, forcing the others to chase. If he can get Kruijswijk or someone to go with him they could well build up a decent advantage and make it all the way. Landa has form with long-range attacks in the third week of a GT, and after a tough start to the race, he could be coming good at just the right time. We also saw Kruijswijk is not averse to a long-ranger, he almost held on on Alpe d’Huez after something like 70kms solo.</p><p>Or it could be Quintana that goes, as he too has done damage from long-range in the past. Remember that amazing stage in the Vuelta in 2017 when Contador attacked inside 10kms of the 110km stage and Quintana went with them and they flipped the race on its head as Froome and Sky were caught sleeping. Like Landa, I think he’ll be up for it from the start. He did a long-ranger in the Tour de Suisse, and maybe he was practicing for it Tuesday.</p><p>And Romain Bardet could also be an aggressor and an instigator, as he too wants to move up to the podium spots. He sits 3’21” down, or about 90” off the podium, and if he can make a big move, with the right companions, he could make up some time.</p><p>Tom Dumoulin is apparently really looking forward to this stage. His DS says he’s going to treat it like a 65km TT, so I think he will go from the gun and try to put the others under all sorts of pressure. If he can drop a few, podium is probably secured, but also, he could drop Thomas and/or Froome early on and it would be game on for the remaining 40kms. The first climb is pretty steady, the last climb too, if steeper. No one will pull with Thomas and Froome as they are top 2 in the GC, so they could be under a lot of pressure.</p><p>Primoz Roglic and Dan Martin could be the two rogue agents here though, sitting, watching, waiting, and ready to pounce on the last climb. Roglic has been happy to do that so far, and attacked on the final climb on the stage to Mende, gaining some time.. He could do the same here and take the stage win and bonus seconds, which would bring him closer and closer to the Sky boys.</p><p>Dan Martin has been on the attack a lot in this race, maybe he’ll try again Wednesday. He has the legs, he has the punch to attack and the gradient of the final climb should suit him too. He could be a likely candidate to spice things up on a stage like this.</p><p>Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang has had a disappointing race so far, but Astana have won two stages now with Fraile and Cort landing back-to-back stages. He too might be interested in lighting up this stage to try to move up the GC, but he hasn’t shown enough to me to say he’ll be winning this stage.</p><p>And then you have the likes of Warren Barguil, Rafa Majka, Mikel Nieve, Adam Yates, Guillaume Martin, David Gaudu, Pierre Rolland, Daniel Martinez and Julian Alaphilippe who might be able to stay with the GC men on the climbs but it will be hard to get away unless we get a little bit of a lull in the action as the GC men take stock and look at each other for a while. And then Barguil could be one to watch for as he’ll be after the double KOM points at the finish, I don’t think Alaphilippe will be involved so he could move closer to the jersey.</p><p>So a very hard stage to read, but <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/" title="Sports Betting Odds">I’m going to pluck for a few</a> that I think might have a good chance of featuring and could take off on the final climb.</p><p> </p><h2>Selections</h2><p>0.5pts each-way on Mikel Landa at +$1400<br />0.3pts each-way on Warren Barguil at +$4000<br />0.5pts win on Primoz Roglic at +$1400</p><p> </p><h2>Matchbets</h2><p>Tom Dumoulin to beat Romain Bardet – 2pts at 8/11<br />Jakob Fuglsang to beat Ilnur Zakarin, and Rafal Majka to beat Adam Yates – 2pts at +$150</p>