By David Hunter
Carcassonne > Quillan 184km
Another tough looking stage.
The opening kilometres are uphill, it’s more like a nagging false flat than anything else. Given how they’ve already been racing, this will hurt the legs and make it a break for the strong men. To get up the road you’re going to need a huge amount of power, something that many no longer have after 13 stages.
Côte de Galinagues is a tough little climb, 2.2km at 8.5%, but the opening kilometre averages over 10%. The entrance to the climb is over a narrow bridge, positioning is important for this one.
Col de Saint-Louis is the final climb of the day and it’s a hard one. Officially 5.4km at 6.4%, but the opening 2.5km is very steep. The crest comes with 16.6km to go, all of which is downhill. First over the climb will likely be the winner of the stage.
This is a day for the breakaway, there is no doubt in my mind. The battle to get up the road will be crazy, this is one of the last stages the puncheurs have a chance of winning, they won’t want to miss out.
Getting in the right move will require strong legs, but also a lot of luck. People watch these stages and think how did they miss the break? Making the move that goes away is just very, very hard. Those who ride for a strong team have an advantage, especially if they can get multiple riders up the road. The day Mohorič won is like this stage, things get very tactical and it’s not always the strongest rider who wins.
Basically, we’ll see attack after attack, and the break will eventually form, probably around 45 minutes into the stage. Then things will settle down and the finale will begin with around 60km to go. Those who aren’t the best climbers will try and attack the front group as they know they need a gap for the final climb. We’ll then see if the better climbers can catch them on the climb. The roads in the final 60km are narrow, perfect for those who want to go early.
Back in the GC group we’ll see attacks on the final climb, there is a chance of putting some under pressure, but I doubt we’ll see gaps between the top 5.
Wout Van Aert – he’ll start this stage as the big favourite, his form is clearly on the up. His win on Wednesday was magnificent, but he wants more. Van Aert is exactly the type of rider who can make the break, something he’s done on multiple occasions already in the last two weeks. If he gets up the road the others will fear him. Expect to see his breakaway colleagues look to him to shoulder much of the work, which will make this stage a hard one for him to win.
Deceuninck – Quick Step – they’ll want multiple riders in the breakaway. Their best options are Alaphilippe, Asgreen and Devenyns for a stage like this. They’ve enjoyed an incredible race so far, but they’ll still want more. All three riders I’ve mentioned are good enough to win this type of stage. They also have other riders to help get them in the break, something that gives them a big advantage.
Magnus Cort – his type of stage. He came into the race with brilliant form, and he always seems to improve during a grand tour. Winning won’t be easy, but he’ll be one of the favourites.
Bahrain – they have three brilliant options for this stage: Colbrelli, Teuns and Mohorič. The Italian is in the form of his life, this is a brilliant chance for him to win his first Tour de France stage. Teuns and Mohorič already have a stage win in the race, but they’ll want another one. Bahrain are enjoying a brilliant run of results, they’ll be hoping to get multiple riders in the break and get another win.
Michael Matthews – he must be getting a touch frustrated. His form is good, but he doesn’t have the win he dearly wants. This is a great finish for the Aussie, but if he makes the break no one will want to take him to the line.
Jasper Stuyven – he’s been so close to winning a stage in the Tour, but he’s just fallen short each time. He was 2nd to Mohorič in the first week, another day where he almost got it right. Stuyven is an incredibly talented rider, the win will come, but will it be tomorrow? He’s the type of rider who can make the break, then look to attack before the final climb. Having teammates behind to block would boost his chances of winning.
Valentin Madouas – now that Gaudu is out of the GC picture he has freedom to chase a win. His form this year has been awful, he’s looked a very poor version of himself. I doubt he can turn it around and win this stage.
Michael Valgren – he was climbing very well at the Dauphiné, and this is a stage that suits him well. Both he and Cort are good options for EF, this stage is like the one Cort won in 2018, where both made the break for Astana. Can they do something similar tomorrow?
Omar Fraile – he’s been climbing well in the race; this is a stage he’ll have marked in red. He and Aranburu are great options for this one, Astana could do with a stage win.
Alejandro Valverde – we’ve not seen much of him yet, I imagine this will start to change. He’s here to help his team, but also prepare for the Olympics. I think he’ll be wanting to attack in the next week, possibly starting with this stage.
I’ll go for another Deceuninck – Quick Step win, but which rider? It’s going to be a win for Kasper Asgreen.
Mark Cavendish does it again for David! Danek from Canada is the happy winner of a Cycle Pal Care Package. We’ve been in touch via email. Hopefully, Cavendish can get through the next stages and unlock another Care Package on Champs Elysees!
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