This should have been a 130km route over three climbs and finishing on the 33km climb to Val Thorens, but unfortunately due to adverse weather conditions and the danger of more landslides, the stage has been shortened to just 59kms and is now just a glorified hill climb up to Val Thorens. It is a beast of a climb though, 33kms long, averaging 5.5%, but it does have long sections of more than 7% that will really test them. It is also 2,365m in height, so altitude will have an affect like today again.
So one more stage to go to reshape the GC, and we could still see some changes in the top 10. Bernal looks home and hosed though, that final climb to Val Thorens just looks like another opportunity for him to charge away from the others and put even more time in to them.
If he does that again tomorrow in that last 7kms, no one will be able to live with him. Ineos will look to keep the pressure on all stage as they know they want to get rid of Alaphilippe again and get Thomas on the podium too for sure, and also, they will know now that Bernal can take a stage to cap the race for them.
He’s only +200 for tomorrow again with Betway, but that actually looks like a bet to me, he’s clearly the best climber in the race, Bet365 are probably closer to the price at +150.
Thomas looks limited, and in fact he could be under pressure from Kruijswijk now for 2nd place, Thomas attacked again, but got nowhere, SK was biding his time and still looked strong and fresh. All Tour I’ve been hearing that he is waiting for a big attack on Val Thorens, a stage he has trained a lot on. If he goes and really puts Thomas under pressure, I think he could crack him.
Alaphilippe is definitely going to crack again I think, this climb is just so long, they can crank up the pressure like they did today and when the attacks come he’ll go backwards. That last 7kms or so after the easier section should see them put a minute or so in to him.
Landa has looked on the limit in the last few stages too, I’m not sure he has the legs after a tough Tour and the Giro, and Quintana cracked early today too. Nibali and Uran looked good for a while today in the break, but they were easily caught so there was no major power there either. Uran was true to the word though as I mentioned last night, he went on the attack instead of sitting with the GC men.
Simon Yates looks like the only one who can put it up to Bernal, but as we saw today, even he wasn’t able to stay with Bernal when he turned on the gas near the top of the Iseran, but if he can go in the break again tomorrow, and gets a 2-3 min head start on the Val then he might make it. But as we saw today, when Ineos step on the gas, time gaps fall very quickly. And they will possibly have the added power of G pulling at the front now as well for Bernal, hoping they get rid of Alaphilippe.
A short stage now, it will only take them about 90 minutes, but it’s still hard to look past Bernal on the form he was in today, and the others all look on the limit. Final podium could well be Bernal, Kruijswijk and Thomas.
Just enjoy it, we might not see such a great Tour for a long time.