Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 7 Preview

Course:

What might finally prove an easy day for the peloton awaits on Stage 7, a comparatively short 143km jaunt from Matera to Brindisi, on almost entirely flat or descending roads. An opportunity at last for the pure sprinters to test their form against those who have already succeeded in the opening week’s tougher finales. There is the threat of crosswinds during the day however, which is bound to make the bunch twitchy, especially as the general classification teams strive to keep their leaders at the front of affairs.

There is a considerably technical run into the finish, which will make positioning paramount for the sprinters, as burning matches to make up lost places is not ideal before a gallop to the line. The final kilometre will be contested at an almost imperceptible gradient, so should not drain the legs during their concluding effort in the hunt for stage honours.

 

Giro d'Italia 2020 Stage 7

Giro d’Italia 2020 Stage 7

Contenders:

It was a truly phenomenal performance by Arnaud Démare to take his second victory of the Giro d’Italia yesterday, having looked completely dislocated from the front of the race with only 600m remaining. A slight lull in tempo and a perfectly judged final corner did him the world of good, but given his immense winning margin, there is no denying he was on a totally different level. It will be fascinating to see if he can repeat this once again, as being the only sprinter with a full team at his disposal, there is every reason to think he shall dominate the battle for positioning during the technical finale.

Having set his team to work for much of the day, it proved to be another disappointing result for Peter Saganwho cannot blame any misfortune for his 8th place finish yesterday. Stage 7 should be an even faster conclusion and does not bode well for the three time world champion, who has looked off the pace during the flatter concluding stages. However, Sagan will benefit from the more complex finish, allowing him to surf the wheels in pursuit of Démare, who he will look to leapfrog as the line rapidly approaches late on.

We are yet to see a fair showing of Fernando Gaviria at this year’s Giro d’Italia thus far, though the Colombian is the fastest sprinter present, at least on paper. Erstwhile race winning form appears to be within touching distance during 2020, hopefully returning to his grasp by the conclusion of today’s stage. He does however suffer from a lack of firepower and convincing leadout, which may well leave him exposed in regards to both crosswinds and the technical finish.

The rider most likely to catch the rest by surprise is Álvaro Hodeg, who certainly has the top-end speed to win the stage, but is an unknown quantity in regards to his current form. The young Colombian started the season well, and being fair to him, has not looked terrible since the restart, but to have not won at the level of his races leading into the Giro d’Italia is troublesome.

A year ago, this would have been a clear chance for Elia Viviani to collect another stage win at his home race, but the switch to Cofidis has failed to replicate the Olympic champion’s finest form. He is one of the sprinters least likely to be bothered by crosswinds and should cope well in regards to positioning late on too, but there has been little evidence to confidently state he will mount a convincing sprint for the day’s honours.

The weather is likely to be the biggest variable during the stage, which could bring several additional names into contention; Rudy BarbierMichael Matthews, Juan Sebastián Molano, Ben Swift and Enrico Battaglin.

Outcome:

1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd Arnaud Démare 3rd Peter Sagan

Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 6 Preview

Course:

Another relatively long day for the bunch on Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia, beginning in Castrovillari and lasting 189km to finish atop a small rise into Matera. Given the immediate ascent from the start, it should not take too long for the breakaway to form, perhaps consolidating its composition by the time the road begins heading downhill from 52km; lasting all the way to the day’s only categorised climb.

The Category 3 Millotta lasts for 4.7km and averages 6.9%, not really straying much from this gradient until it eases slightly in the final kilometre. It is here that some teams will seek to apply pressure upon the pure sprinters, aiming to send them packing before the final 10km lights the touch paper to the day’s fight for stage honours.

 

Giro d’Italia 2020 Stage 6 2020

Contenders:

Peter Sagan is beginning to look a force on the bike once again, maybe not close to his very best, but certainly close to the sort of condition which the vast majority of the peloton will struggle to match. He has the teammates to control the race and keep him well positioned, while the rises in the final run into the finish are well within his abilities, where the slight drag to the line is unlikely to bother him.

Diego Ulissi kept his powder dry yesterday and will now be firmly set on throwing his hat into the ring once more on Stage 6. His form has been extremely good since the season resumed during the summer, though for a rider who performs so well on inclines to the finish line, today’s offering looks too easy for him. Only if Team UAE Emirates set a fearsome pace can he hope of gaining an advantage over his rivals on far from ideal terrain.

Michael Matthews did not perform as strongly as expected on Stage 2, where despite his great showing at the world championships, he was unable to bridge across with Peter Sagan to the move of Diego Ullisi late on. Today is an easier offering than that, though he will want his teammates to set a good tempo on Millottai n order to make life difficult for his rivals, who could also be caught out by the undulating and technical finale.

Arnaud Démare survived the rigours of Stage 4 better than many expected, producing a sprint which was just enough to beat Peter Sagan on the line, but it will take an ever greater defying of expectations to win today. The ascent of Millotta is not favourable for the French national champion, and given his strength yesterday, the likes of Bora and Sunweb will be even more motivated to send him out the back of the bunch early on. He needs to worry about survival before he can dream of victory, but if present in the final kick, there is a great chance of him doubling up.

Davide Ballerini continues to develop this season and his showing on Stage 4 gives good reason to include him in the list of contenders once again. He is likely to find support scarce due to the team’s commitment to the maglia rosa, as well as having to deal with the fatigue of defending the jersey yesterday too, making a stage winning performance a great ask of the Italian.

Others to consider are Andrea VendrameEnrico BattaglinBen SwiftDavide Cimolai and Mikkel Honoré.

Outcome:

1st Michael Matthews 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Davide Ballerini 

Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 5 Preview

Course:

Stage 5 of 2020’s Giro d’Italia will not help those who have already struggled in the opening week, as the peloton are tasked with 225km of undulating road, including a category one ascent ahead of a downhill run into the finish. The day begins in Mileto and finishes at Camigliatello Silano, taking in the climbs of Catanzaro and Tiriolo, after which an extended sequence of riding occurs until the foot of Valico di Monte Scuro.

Classified as a Category 1 ascent, the Valico di Monte Scuro lasts a leg numbing 24.2km and even features erratic ramps at the midpoint which go beyond 20%. It looks a day for the breakaway, so expect a frantic start to make the day’s winning move, then sit back to see who can grind their way over the final climb and descend into the finish for stage honours.

Giro d’Italia 2020 Stage 5

Contenders:

Diego Ulissi has proven to be in great form already and has previously turned in strong showings on long climbs, knowing that a subsequent descent and sprint makes him an obvious favourite at the finish. He might not have had this stage circled ahead of today, but riders often seek to make the most of great form, which could tempt him into action once more here.

Davide Villella suits the day’s course well, offering Movistar the most likely chance to make the breakaway and feature as one of the best on the final climb. His difficulty will be dropping his rivals before the summit, eager to to avoid a potential sprint finish after the descent into town.

Atilla Valter is an extremely interesting talent and shall hopefully be tasked with making it into the key moves on Stage 5. The Hungarian can climb convincingly at this level already, though the depth of quality at a grand tour is another measure of his talents to come, but he should be up to the challenge and is a definite name to watch for in the break.

Geoffrey Bouchard collected the mountains classification jersey at last year’s Vuelta a España without winning a single stage, so perhaps he will find fortune more favourable at the Giro d’Italia instead. He is certainly well enough equipped to feature, yet it still remains difficult to see him taking the honours come the finish.

Joe Dombrowski is forever featured on the list of candidates for lottery like stages such as these, yet the winner of the baby Giro d’Italia has never fulfilled the expectations placed upon him. Rapidly approaching 30 years old, it is surely now or never for the American to find his feet at this level, with Stage 5 a potential springboard to do so.

Tobias Foss is another gifted youngster, perhaps not quite ready to go all the way on a stage like this, but deserves a mention as could feature in the early break and could be given the go ahead to stretch his legs on the Valico di Monte Scuro.

Damien Howson is a good fit for the day’s challenge and should be given greater freedom now team leader Simon Yates has already shipped a race scuttling number of minutes on the general classification. The 24.4km ascent of Valico di Monte Scuro means he can settle into a rhythm once safely navigating the steep middle section, sustaining an infernal tempo which should send his fellow escapees tumbling down the mountain.

Thomas De Gendt can always be mentioned on these long and undulating grand tour stages, as we have so often seen him set off early in the day and never look over his shoulder until the race is won. With the mileage of the Tour de France already in his legs, he can certainly stay the distance, but the question is whether he is truly in his best form quite yet to take the win.

Sam Oomen has looked poised to announce his arrival at the biggest races for a little while now, so why not do so by winning a stage of the Giro d’Italia. As previously seen at Haut Var, the young Dutchman is not far off some of the best GC climbers in the peloton, so the freedom to hit out for a breakaway stage could be a wise move by Team Sunweb.

Jhonatan Narváez might be the man sent into the fray by Team INEOS and their new salvage operation, maybe even given a companion to look after him in the flatter sections of Stage 5, keeping him fresh for the long ascent of Valico di Monte Scuro. 

Outcome:

1st Atilla Valter 2nd Damien Howson 3rd Sam Oomen

Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 4 Preview

Course:

Yesterday’s stage was a reminder that we live in strange times, and that for some big name riders, volcanoes and cycling do not mix well. Stage 4 begins in Catania and travels 140km to Villafranca Tirrena, with a single categorised climb slapped right in the middle of the day, just to ensure there remains the possibility of more drama on an otherwise simple day.

The ascent of Portella Mandrazi lasts for 16.2km and averages 4.6%, offering an incredibly even climb with no sharp ramps of note, meaning it might not disrupt the peloton as much as intended by the course architects; depending on which teams seize control of the bunch at least.

Giro d’Italia 2020 Stage 4 2020

Contenders:

A few seasons ago, the finale on Stage 2 would have certainly resulted in Peter Sagan taking another stage victory, but he was outpaced by an in form Diego Ulissi. He will undoubtedly try again today, knowing that a well executed drilling of the Portella Mandrazi by his teammates could send several pure sprinters out the back door, if not at least blunt them ahead of a bunch kick which he will fancy dominating.

There shall be a similar plan of attack by Team Sunweb on behalf of Michael Matthews, with ambitions of managing to place Peter Sagan into trouble; either forcing him to work hard to stay in contention or dropping him entirely. He is by no means the fastest sprinter here in a typical drag race to the line, but the Portella Mandrazi could provide the ideal ammunition to shoot down the ambitions of the pure speed merchants around him.

If the pace is not has intense as expected upon the climb, then a major benefactor could be Arnaud Démare, who certainly possesses the durability to survive and turn in a stage winning sprint at the end of it all. He is probably the only sprinter here with an entire team at his disposal, which will be crucial on keeping him well placed today, potentially then being utilised to bring the race back together and marshal him into position late on.

After their disastrous ascent of Etna yesterday, Team INEOS might well change tack with immediate effect, something which has became a trait of theirs when tasked with a salvage operation. This might be a rare chance for Ben Swift to lead the charge, a rider who has previously proven to cope well with long or arduous stages, following it up with a sprint capable of matching others highlighted here. His commitment to Sky/INEOS as a domestique makes him somewhat of an unknown these days, yet it will be interesting to see how he performs if handed the task of flying the team’s colours.

Placed in the ‘goldilocks’ zone of being tough enough to survive the climb and fast enough to finish the day off is Davide Ballerini. He has been improving consistently for some time now, demonstrating a greater climbing ability than previously assumed of him, which will certainly make him a threat on today’s stage. If Sunweb and Bora end up in a game of pace setting brinkmanship, then it is unlikely Ballerini will cope well enough to still challenge for the win, but if still in touch over the summit it will be his to lose.

The likes of Fernando GaviriaElia Viviani, Álvaro HodegDavide Cimolai and Enrico Battaglin are all unlikely to find life comfortable on the Portella Mandrazi, and if they do, faster riders will also be present come the finish.

Outcome:

1st Michael Matthews 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Ben Swift

Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 3 Preview

Course:

Stage 3 is a 150km ride from Enna, taking in generally rolling terrain for the most part, with the course having been designed for the peloton to erupt on the road to the summit finish of Etna. This was used a few years ago, where Jan Polanc produced a brilliant performance to win, but today’s ascent differs in that is deemed the harder approach.

The race manual labels the climb as 18.8km with an average gradient of 6.8%, which should mean we see the general classification riders stretch their legs and test the water on day three, especially with extended sections between 9% – 11% nearer the summit.

Giro d’Italia 2020 Stage 3

Contenders:

Geraint Thomas will be aware that he does not need to win today’s stage in order to secure the leader’s jersey, with the focus simply being to finish with the day’s frontrunners, knowing full well that he can deliver real damage during this year’s time trialling opportunities. The Welshman is not afraid of riding aggressively though, and has more than enough in terms of a sprint, to put many of his rivals to bed in a charge for the line.

Jakob Fuglsang suits the ascent of Etna well, where he will seek to settle into a powerful rhythm and take advantage of the early losses from his general classification hopes and exercise his freedom in pursuit of stage honours. He has looked impressive this season, aware that he only needs to stay in contention today, before being able to pounce late for the win.

Simon Yates enjoyed a great showing at Tirreno-Adriatico, and if his form has held well since then, knows this stage finale suits him very well. Given the lack of serious climbing during the relatively short 150km stage, the British rider will be able to invest everything into the ascent of Etna, likely making him the most marked man during the concluding moments. If he can time his attack well enough, it will take a concerted effort from cooperative chasers to reel him back on these steep gradients.

João Almeida is neatly placed in second on the general classification, with a one second advantage of Geraint Thomas, providing the 22 year old prodigy with an incredible chance to take the pink jersey after day three. It is difficult to say if he has the ability to follow the moves if the deciding ascent is ridden aggressively, yet a strong headwind or more subdued finale, could hand him a huge career milestone.

Vincenzo Nibali is a local boy and will undoubtedly love the idea of winning atop the island’s iconic landmark. We have not seen the best form from the multiple grand tour winner yet, though his world championship performance was encouraging and this is an easier prospect in comparison to that. Personal motivation is often a big factor in professional cycling, so do not be surprised if the ‘Shark of Messina’ sits atop the volcano by the end of the day.

There is still a strong possibility of a breakaway or late counter attack managing to make it all the way; Atilla Valter, Ilnur Zakarin, Diego UlissiJack HaigBen O’ConnorFausto Masnada and Tobias Foss all capable of taking the honours.

Outcome:

1st Vincenzo Nibali 2nd Simon Yates 3rd Geraint Thomas

Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 2 Preview

Course:

The first road stage of this year’s race is a short 149km affair with an uphill finish, bound to produce some animated racing as team’s seek to claim the maglia rosa from Filippo Ganna after his brilliant time trial performance. There is not a great deal for the riders to worry about in terms of terrain, with the early inclines looking ideal for the breakaway to form, after which there is plenty of opportunity to reel them back in before the finish at Agrigento.

Concluding with an uphill sprint should make for a great contest, as though it does momentarily reach 9%, the majority is spent at a more manageable 5.3%. The final run to the line is easier still at 3.3%, where the puncheurs are bound to come to the fore and fight for the stage against the remaining sprinters.

Contenders:

Recent showings suggest that Michael Matthews could well be returning to some of his best form and is the sprinter most likely to survive the final climb into Agrigento with enough left to put his rivals to bed. It has been quite some time since we saw the Australian at the peak of his powers, but with a stage win and potential maglia rosa on the cards, this is the time for him to rise to the occasion once again.

It is strange to say it given the lack of victories, but Diego Ulissi is a specialist upon finales such as these, but is often edged out into the podium placings. There have been glimmers of ‘vintage’ Ulissi as of late and he will be extremely motivated by the prospect of the pink jersey alongside a stage win, yet it is tough to see this being hard enough for him to make his talents count.

There is a chance that Peter Sagan might decide to contest the stage honours, as the finale is unlikely to cause him much stress and will certainly be one of the fastest finishing riders left in contention.

If the conclusion is not ridden at too great a tempo, then maybe we might see Arnaud Démare get off the mark with a stage win, especially after looking so strong during the summer. His climbing has been brilliant and he should not be dismissed as easily as many would wish to do so.

Matthew Holmes could be given the task of leading Lotto-Soudal on this stage, as the British rider has enough of a punch to place the faster finishers in trouble during the steeper sections of the final climb, while also possessing a decent turn of pace if required to sprint for the line.

Others to consider are Enrico Battaglin, Ben Swift, Simone Consonni and Davide Ballerini.

Outcome:

1st Michael Matthews 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Arnaud Démare

Liége Bastogne Liége 2020 Race Preview

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2020 – Race Preview

Course:

Bored of the Giro d’Italia already? Well, strange times make for a strange schedule in 2020, meaning that tomorrow sees the oldest monument of all steal the limelight for the day; Liége-Bastogne-Liége. Lumpy, bumpy and lasting 257km, ‘La Doyenne’ remains an energy sapping contest of pure survival.

The route is relatively familiar in its climbs, though tweaks in recent years have taken the shine off the likes of Côte de La Redoute, shifting potential race winning importance onto the steep ramps of the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons instead. Despite lacking any long climbs, the race manages to clock up more than 4000m of ascending, which will only feel tougher with the potential of crosswinds and rain thrown into the mix.

Contenders:

The favourite for many will be Marc Hirschi, who won La Flèche Wallonne with a brutally strong performance, proving that his form has carried over well since Le Tour de France and a podium placing at the world championships. His stage win at Le Tour was tailored perfectly to his talents, which are mirrored once again here, tasking the other riders with beating an in form Hirschi on his favoured terrain. Team Sunweb have impressed with their tactical nous during the restart of the season, and could once again seek to load the key moves with riders and give a further advantage to Hirschi ahead of the concluding fireworks.

It will be a tough ask for the recently crowned world champion Julian Alaphilippe to make this monument his first win in the rainbow bands, having decided not to race since his impressive win at Imola. As is often pointed out, the Frenchman is not one for middling performances, so he will either prove rusty when vanishing out the back door or christen his new jersey in style. The finale’s design does offer him good opportunities to either attack with the ambition of going solo to the line or matching the moves of an elite group and pinning everything on his sprint finish.

Last year produced a great ride from Maximilian Schachmann, who will be eager to go even better in 2020, especially after a world championship road race which saw him active during the latter moments. It might prove best for the German to ride relatively defensively, as if he can match all the key moves without going into the red, he will be tough to beat in a sprint for the line.

Both Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar are lining up for this year’s race, but it does seem like a huge ask for them to replicate their Tour de France form here, especially as fatigue looks to be creeping up on them since the world championships. The former could be dangerous if allowed to go solo late in the day, as will be extremely difficult to bring back once over Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons. Pogačar looked strong in the final moments of La Flèche Wallonne, but simply could not match the strength of those around him as the surge to the line began.

Michal Kwiatkowski seems to have tailored his form well for this contest and offers plenty of consideration, especially given his attacking options and immense depth of team support. Solo, elite group or even a larger sprint all see him near the top of the pile as a favourite. A stage win at Le Tour de France, combined with top ten placings at both the world championships and La Flèche Wallonne, suggest the Polish rider will be eager to get amongst the attacks late on.

Undone by poor positioning at La Flèche Wallonne, Michael Woods shall certainly be motivated to make up for it here and hope to improve on his second place finish from 2018. He should be less fatigued than many of his rivals as a result of missing Le Tour de France and has a team which should be able to support him well into the day’s decisive moments. The Canadian’s greatest issue is that, no matter the situation he could win from, it seems that there is bound to be someone else better suited to taking the win. However, a monument is a draining affair mentally too and a lapse of concentration by the bunch could be capitalised upon rapidly by Woods.

Looking better, but still not at his best, Dan Martin will be hoping to win here again. Richie Porte produced a strong showing at La Flèche Wallonne and could threaten with a solo move. Damiano Caruso is an interesting prospect after an impressive ride at the world championships. Michael Valgren has pedigree at U23 level with two victories.

Outcome:

1st Marc Hirschi 2nd Maximilian Schachmann 3rd Michal Kwiatkowski

Giro d'Italia 2020

Giro d’Italia 2020 – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

For those who pined for the UCI WorldTour during lockdown, heads will now be spinning as we find ourselves plunging manically into a washing machine of monuments, classics and grand tours for the foreseeable future; so no complaining!

Today’s agenda is the Giro d’Italia which gets underway with a time trial of unique design, sending the riders downhill for a large part, which is saying something when it only lasts 15.1km anyway; expect massive chainrings and big average speeds.

Contenders:

Having monstered his way to the rainbow bands last weekend, Filippo Ganna is the favourite on this high speed course, which will suit his immense power output. For the Italian to win, it really should be a simple case of staying upright and claiming his debut win as world individual time trial champion.

Though it was apparent Rohan Dennis was off the pace at the world championships, it was still surprising as to how early he shipped time to Ganna and the eventual deficit he finished by. He generally favours courses much longer and testing than this to really demonstrate his best, but is one of the riders most likely to push Ganna closest for the win.

It will be extremely interesting to see what Geraint Thomas can produce on this course, as his performance at Imola against the clock showed a rider in great form and a definite favourite for the overall Giro d’Italia title. His career transitioned from the track, where his previous pursuit prowess saw him perform well in several high ranking prologues, before moving onwards to general classification ambitions. It is likely that Ganna is being shaped a similar way by Team INEOS and we could see a close fought contest between the two.

Victor CampenaertsMichael MatthewsAlex Dowsett and Tony Martin could be the first riders home after a Team INEOS podium, but none who raced at the world championships against Ganna looked close to the ability of the Italian and his teammates on that ocassion.

Outcome:

1st Filippo Ganna 2nd Geraint Thomas 3rd Rohan Dennis

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21

Course:

Despite predicting the victory of Tadej Pogačar yesterday, it was still a surprise to see him go further still, producing a result to seize the yellow jersey at the final time of asking. Since his national time trial victory in June over his compatriot Primož Roglič, it was clear that there was a huge performance to expect at Le Tour de France and that is exactly what came to fruition.

As a note, it is perhaps most bizarre that this is seen as a shock by many, despite the fact that Pogačar finished third at his debut grand tour (La Vuelta a España) only a year ago, where he won three incredibly tough stages in the process.

Attention shall however be upon the sprinters today, as the finale of this year’s race is concluded by a gallop down the Champs-Élysées as ever, providing the sprinters with one last chance to snatch a victory. There is not a great deal to be said of the course, as the stage takes a familiar form, stretching 122km from Mantes-La-Jolie to Paris.

After the champagne and team photos, the sprinters teams will come to the fore once the laps around the capital begin, lining it up for another mad dash down the famous cobbled boulevard. It will be interesting to see who has survived the recent rigours of the mountains best, as some are likely to have kept their powder dry for precisely this opportunity.

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Contenders:

There is no doubt that Sam Bennett shall wish to seal his debut green jersey victory with a win on the Parisian streets, cementing his place as the fastest man over the duration of this three week race around France. His team will be fully committed to setting the Irishman up for glory here, eager to be crowning his achievement in style on the final day.

Though it was a strong start to this year’s Tour de France by Caleb Ewan he does look to have been hit hard by 2020’s barrage of mountains and limited transition stages to recover upon. Regardless, he did win here last year and is respected because of that fact, yet will need to muster his best in the absence of a convincing lead out train to win again.

This must have been a goal for Cees Bol for sometime now, as his individual capabilities and team’s prowess suggest it is within reach, but can everything finally click into place on the final day? Though Team Sunweb have picked up several victories at this year’s race, there is no hiding how poor their results have been in the sprints, despite extremely convincing team performances to place Bol ideally late on. The cobbled terrain, slight drag and need for a good lead out help to place him as a favourite, but it is rare for everything to finally click on a final stage like these.

To spin the same old record yet again, Trek-Segafredo can look to Jasper Stuyven, Edward Theuns or Mads Pedersen to lead the charge down the finishing straight. As ever, it seems most likely that Pedersen shall get the nod, on a finale which suits him best given the ‘mano a mano’ nature we often see on this iconic sprinting showdown.

Maybe Peter Sagan can finally win a stage at this year’s Tour de France, though there is little to suggest he has the speed to truly threaten others likely to feature. It has certainly been a frustrating campaign for the green jersey, and unfortunately for him, it does not look to be remedied anytime soon.

Perhaps we neatly bookend this year’s race with another victory for Alexander Kristoffwho is apparently still here despite his anonymity as of late, and always goes well on the grisly cobblestones of Paris. Given the need for UAE Team Emirates to protect the yellow jersey, he might be left to his own devices late on, though that has rarely prevented the Norwegian strongman from collecting wins in the past.

Perhaps the most interesting name to mention is Wout van Aert, who might be the tonic Jumbo-Visman require after the capitulation of Primož Roglič on the final slopes of yesterday’s time trial. The reigning Belgian time trial champion performed extremely well, showing little sign of fatigue and would be anticipated to compete well in the rough and ready nature of the Champs-Élysées.

Others to consider are Niccolo BonifazioMatteo TrentinLuka MezgecEdvald Boasson HagenAndré Greipel and Christophe Laporte.

Outcome:

1st Sam Bennett 2nd Wout van Aert 3rd Alexander Kristoff

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 20 Preview

Course:

Le Tour de France reaches its only race against the clock for 2020, where the yellow jersey of Primož Roglič will seek to cement his lead upon the general classification, ahead of the finale parade stage into Paris.

Today’s test is a 36.2km individual time trial from Lure, finishing atop the well recognised La Planche des Belles Filles, a polarised stage which should produce some explosive surges up the decisive final categorised climb of this year’s Tour de France.

Beyond the yellow jersey and final podium spot to be challenged for, the greatest contest could be that of the polka dot jersey, as the fastest ascent of the climb can hand Primož Roglič, Tadej Pogačar or Richard Carapaz the title on last climb of the race.

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 20 Preview

Contenders:

There is enough of a lead for Primož Roglič to ensure he does not need to take any risks on the penultimate day, simply needing to stay upright and produce a performance which is well within the abilities and expectations of the current yellow jersey wearer. He has not always produced his greatest time trials at the end of stage races, but given the nature of today’s course, there is little reason to think he will slip up now. His shape still looks convincing and many will have him down to seal the overall title with a stage win atop La Planche des Belles Filles.

It will be interesting to see what time Tadej Pogačar produces on the opening flat section, as an unexpectedly strong showing could make the timed climb to the summit, extremely interesting in comparison to his compatriot Roglič. The finale plays to his strengths well, but it is difficult to see him being within touching distance of the yellow jersey before the ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles begins. A stage win is possible, but the yellow jersey looks unlikely.

Though ridiculous to suggest he is a revelation, Wout van Aert has surprised many with his ability to shell pure climbers from the peloton, primarily thanks to his incredible durations setting a high tempo at the head of affairs. With the flatter start before La Planche des Belles Filles to build an advantage, the Belgian could very well produce a familiar performance from this year’s Tour de France, and go on to take the stage entirely.

Jumbo-Visma also have the talented Tom Dumoulin to pin their hopes on against the clock, having already earned himself the chance to go for the stage honours, after weeks of working hard in the role of Roglič’s super-domestique. However, it has been a long time since we saw the Dutchman’s best in time trials and a tough Tour de France seems unlikely to have placed him in a good position ahead of today.

In order to make the podium at the final chance possible, Richie Porte will need to turn in a fantastic performance, and hope his rival Miguel Ángel López produces an abysmal showing simultaneously. It is not beyond the realms of possibility however, as Porte is a noted specialist and will favour this uphill finale; having something to fight for beyond a stage win can prove decisive too.

It is tough to gauge the level of form some riders will bring into such a late time trial, but names to look out for include; Daniel MartinezEnric MasJulian AlaphilippeMarc Hirschi,, Nelson Oliveira and Lennard Kämna.

Outcome:

1st Tadej Pogačar 2nd Primož Roglič 3rd Richie Porte