This could be a real pivotal day in both the GC and the KOM competition. With a Cat 1 and a HC climb out on the route, a strong breakaway rider can take 50pts out on the route, and potentially 20 more on the Galibier, if they make it to the top before getting caught. Alternatively, should the break not make it to top of the Galibier, then there is 40pts up for grabs to whoever of the GC group crests the climb first.
So how is that going to affect how we think about this stage and who could possibly win it? Well, you’d have to think all those guys mentioned above will be trying to get in the break (non-GC guys I mean) and we could see a big battle of strong climbers trying to get away.
So, can Simon Yates do it again? It almost looks like it’s Simon Yates from the break versus all the GC men, with Pinot, Landa, Bernal, Thomas just after him in the betting. So how do we think this one is going to go then? Well, it is a right mix with the bookies as regards how they see it going, with the break guys interspersed between the GC men.
I think the break has a good chance of making it through again on this stage. The start isn’t too difficult, so we should get a big group go, and we might see some teams with several guys in there, some guys whose sole purpose is to drive the break along to give their preferred rider the biggest possible margin starting the Galibier.
I think we might see a solid pace up the Galibier by the GC teams, but it might be that no one really wants to waste too much energy on a climb where it’s hard to make up a great deal of time, and so the break could make it all the way. There might be someone try a dig over the top on the 9% section to get a gap and try descending faster than the others to make time, but none of them are great descenders!
So break or GC, GC or break.. It is very hard to call – there are a lot of tired guys out there and there are two harder days yet to come.. If they can eliminate Alaphilippe from the front group early on he could lose minutes and let Ineos, Kruijswijk and Pinot fight it out for the podium spots.
Another likely scenario though is we see Mikel Landa make a move on a stage like this – the two preceding climbs and the final climb to Galibier are perfect for him.. If Movistar put Soler, Amador, Erviti or Verona in the break Landa could bridge on the Izoard and get a tow to the final climb as he did on 15, he was flying on Sunday.
He is still not out of it either and if could take 30-40″ and the two-time bonuses (there’s one at the top of the Galibier) he’s suddenly after taking back a minute and is just over a minute off the podium. He was flying on Sunday and only Pinot was able to catch him as he tired near the end of the climb, but this looks a lot more up his street and the +700 is a tempting e/w bet, he could take the stage win, or at worst be 2nd or 3rd after escaping out of the GC group and chasing home a solo winner..
What about Yates though at just +450? It’s very, very short for a stage where anything could happen, but if he does get in the break, and the break gets enough rope, he probably wins. He is clearly one of the best 5 climbers in the race, the other 4 are back in the GC battle, so if he can start the Galibier with the break, or even ahead of it after leaving them on the Izoard, then he probably won’t be caught.
Apparently, Mitchelton-Scott’s Directeur Sportif said today though that Adam Yates was feeling a lot better and that he was going to go in the break in the next few days. One to keep an eye on for the following days.
Others for the break? Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet haven’t looked like they could take a stage like this – Nibali did show some glimpses of form and ambition getting in the breaks, but fell away tamely, same with Bardet, he looked good taking the KOM on the Soulor on Saturday, but fell away in the end as well..
But he was looking better in the last stage, he could easily have withdrawn, like a lot of others would and tried to reassess his health and maybe prepare for a tilt at the Vuelta. Instead, he came out swinging and could be determined to try to leave this race with something – a KOM jersey would be very nice indeed Romain!
Michael Woods, Dan Martin, Giulio Ciccone, Ilnur Zakarin, and Fabio Aru are others who look interested and capable at least of doing something on a stage like this, but they just haven’t been good enough. Jesus Herrada and Bauke Mollema are two more that could have been involved but they were in the break today so I don’t think they’ll go again tomorrow.
So unless someone comes out of left field and has a blinding day, it’s hard to see past the Yates’s and Landa as being the most likely from breaks to win it. They might be from two different scenarios though given their GC positions, Yates from the early break of the day, Landa to come after him on the Galibier again as he did on Sunday.
The GC men are sure to have their own big battle though, Pinot is going to keep on attacking, he is the one with confidence, momentum, and power at the moment and he needs to keep going hard. Alaphilippe should crack again over the next few days and could slip right off the podium even, and in the process, we’re going to have a massive battle between Pinot, Thomas, Bernal, Kruijswijk, and Buchmann.
I am not sure we’ll see much differences between the top guys tomorrow though, we might see a form of truce on the Galibier and they should come to the finish more or less together. Better to save the legs for the summit finishes over the next two days.
So there we are.. I really think this is going to be the start of three amazing days and we hopefully will see some great attacking and great racing. As for tomorrow, I think it could well be a Yates day, and Simon is the most likely winner, but if Adam really is feeling better, there are a lot of reasons why we should back him. I also think Mikel Landa will play a role in this stage and is an e/w poke too.