Mâcon – Saint-Étienne
Saturday 13th July, 199kms
It starts relatively benign for the first 43kms, but then the climbing starts and it is up and down all day long from then on. Five Cat 2 climbs and two Cat 3s, averaging around 4kms each, averaging about 8% in gradient will test the legs of everyone and we could see a day that the GC men and their teams back off and let to the breakaway.
But you will need to be a very strong rider to win on a stage like this one, the climbs come relentlessly all day, with two tough Cat 2s between the 128km and 148km mark, then another tough, but uncategorized climb with 38kms to go. Then there’s the little kicker up the Cote de la Jaillere with just 13kms to go, it may be just 1.9kms, but averages 7.9% and that’s where the stronger riders will try to make their move and escape to victory.
Needle in a haystack time, but I’m going to go for some of the names I’ve picked already this week, I feel they are some of the most likely break candidates and some of the stronger guys for a day like this and feel I need to stick with them…
Break lottery first – it could be a day that tempts out Greg Van Avermaet, CCC need to start finding some results, and he’s probably their best chance. Last year he got involved in a break on stage 10, to Grand Bornand won by Alaphilippe, a very lumpy day, he seems to start to come alive around this point of the race, he finished 4th that day.
This is a bit Ardennes-like, he shouldn’t be too troubled by the climbs, and I could see him attacking away to a solo victory on that final climb. Not only that but if it does come back together, he could be one of the strongest guys for a finish like this, we could have a double chance with him.
Looking back again to that stage 10 last year, other riders that were involved in the big break were Rein Taaramae (finished 3rd), Serge Pauwels (5th) and Lilian Calmejane (6th). Rein Taaramae I’ve already mentioned a few days ago, TDE will be looking for men in the break on a day the break has a big chance and I think both Taaramae and Calmejane could try to get in it. At +30000, Taaramae’s on my team.
Lilian Calmejane is coming close to his home town of Albi, the next stage finishes there. The stage he won in 2017 was also stage 8 and it had a very similar profile over a similar distance. He should have plenty of support out on the road and he knows the roads well, have to be on him with all that coming together. He’s +5000 at Betway which is a great price.
Alexis Gougeard also tried to get in the break on stage 5 but missed, but he also looks like a likely candidate for this stage, AG2R might have to go a little bit more on the offensive now that Bardet is struggling. Gougeard is going well this season and won a similarly lumpy stage solo in the Circuit Sarthe in April. He also won the Boucles de L’Aulne in June solo too by over a minute, on a circuit that had numerous short climbs of 6-8% gradient. He’s a massive +30000 to boot too.
The bookies have made Alaphilippe the favorite once again, but he’s too short for me at +800, can reassess in play to see if it will come back together.. he is keen to get his jersey back though, which he would do with the bonus seconds on that final climb and at the finish. If it does come back together, Sagan, Matthews, Colbrelli and Van Aert could all be involved again, but I’m going to take a chance that tomorrow we’ll see the break make it and we have some very nice odds running for us.
1pt e/w on Greg Van Avermaet at +2200 with Bet365
0.5pts e/w on Lilian Calmejane at +5000 with Betway
0.2pts win on Alexis Gougeard at +30000 with Bet365
0.2pts win on Rein Taaramae at +30000 with Bet365