Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 4 Preview

Course:

The sprinters can put their ambitions away on Stage 4, as the 160.5km ride from Sisteron culminates in the summit finish of Orcières-Merlette, an almost unprecedented high altitude conclusion after only three days of racing. Some of the climbers have already stretched their legs to see what they have got, and while others are keeping their powder dry for a three week battle, plenty will see Stage 4 as their sole chance of claiming the yellow jersey en route to Paris.

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 4 Preview

Contenders:

Adam Yates came close to victory on the second day of racing, but was thwarted by Alaphilippe on the Frenchman’s favoured terrain, today’s challenge will play into the British rider’s hands much more beneficially. There is the opportunity of a debut grand tour stage victory and the yellow jersey itself, which for a rider as combative as Yates, will prove irresistible.

There is little reason to suggest Julian Alaphilippe will not defend his yellow jersey by winning the stage itself, as he has an undeniable penchant for winning in the most flamboyant fashion possible. He will have the joy of following wheels (if he chooses), and given his potent kick, he could wait until the death before snatching another win with a perfectly timed attack; if he can be patient on a day like this.

Swiss wonder talent Marc Hirschi announced himself upon the biggest race in cycling, though his statement performance on Stage 2 was a long time coming, the prodigal rider has plenty more to offer as previous victories as U23 World and Continental champion prove. If the belief that a moderate group of general classification contenders will decide the day’s outcome among their ranks rings true, then Hirschi is one rider with the ability and freedom to attack unopposed.

Primoz Roglic rarely turns down the chance to grasp a race by the throat, which given the undeniable fact he will be in the mix at the front of affairs, means the Slovenian is bound to put a dig in to test the waters. However, as a man who has ambitions for the overall victory, he needs to consider whether the efforts required to win Stage 4 will be worth it, as unlike others mentioned here, a win would not necessarily deliver the yellow jersey upon his shoulders.

Though somewhat banged up as result of the opening day’s misfortunes, Thibaut Pinot should have the kick required to fight for the win on Stage 4’s summit finish. In comparison to his performances at the recent Dauphiné, today does not appear testing enough to place him on the front foot, but that could simply offer him the chance to test his form without the risk of losing too much if he does fall short.

From the pack of other general classification hitters; Egan BernalTom Dumoulin, Mikel Landa and Miguel Ángel López are more than capable of storming to victory, yet shall be more interested in the long game at Le Tour de France.

Rounding out the rest of contenders, from breakaway or late moves on the final ascent; Richard Carapaz, Lennard Kämna, Emanuel Buchmann, Guillaume Martin and Sergio Higuita are all seated awkwardly between GC goals, team orders and personal ambitions.

Outcome:

1st Adam Yates 2nd Primoz Roglic 3rd Guillaume Martin

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 3 Preview

Course:

Sometimes the kilometres do little to separate the expectations of the day from the reality of it, in other words, if you expect Julian Alaphilippe to win, he is probably going to win. Putting yesterday to one side, Stage 3 is a 198km route from Nice to Sisteron featuring a total of four categorised climbs, though nothing in particular to strike fear into the hearts of the riders. Sprinters shall be eager to seize the day, and being honest, they will have had to endure a total nightmare for it not to result in a gallop.

Contenders:

The opening stage of this year’s Tour de France was far from ideal conditions to truly assess the form of the sprinters, but it was Sam Bennett who caught the eye, turning in a strong run to the line after a tumultuous day. Though he enjoyed a sprint relatively free of impinging, it did seem as if too many matches had been burned early on. If his immensely strong lead out train swings into action, rather than protect teammate Alaphilippe, then the Irishman is the favourite on paper to win Stage 3.

It was a difficult opening day for Giacomo Nizzolo, who then found himself boxed in with the finish line rapidly approaching, eventually missing out on the podium entirely. However, the feeling is that a good day for NTT Pro Cycling and an ideal run into Sisteron for Nizzolo could well result in victory for the National and European road race champion.

He was an unexpected winner on the opening day, but lightning can definitely strike twice when it comes to Alexander Kristoff, even if going it alone for the most part on Stage 3. The Norwegian shall relish the parcours and potential for crosswinds, if the weather chooses to bless the peloton with a dose of riding in the gutter. The rising nature of the finale, in combination with the distance and potential headwind, shall definitely play into his hands.

World Champion Mads Pedersen looks extremely strong right now and there is little reason to argue against his hopes of winning on Stage 3. He will find plenty of support from his teammates on the road to Sisteron, and though it is likely to prove less arduous than the opening day, Pedersen is bound to still be in the mix.

Elia Viviani will feel underestimated by many at this year’s Tour de France due to his recent transfer to Cofidis, a French outfit with a particular fondness for not winning at their domestic grand tour. The Italian looked indomitable at times during his tenure at Quick-Step, but shall be hoping that the door opens late on for him to showcase his innate talent.

It has not been a great time for Caleb Ewan, now finding himself without both Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb, firepower which he will have wanted in the final moments of today. However, he does suit the concluding moments of Stage 3 and should have the form to challenge for the podium at least if positioned well enough.

Outcome:

1st Giacomo Nizzolo 2nd Sam Bennett 3rd Elia Viviani

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 2 Preview

Course:

Plenty shall be eager to forget their opening day at 2020’s Tour de France, as rain turned roads to ice and the majority of the peloton introduced themselves to the tarmac at one point or another. Though a surprise in essence, once the attritional nature became apparent, it was clear conditions were ideal for Alexander Kristoff to win the stage and secure his maiden yellow jersey. Today’s offering is an entirely different prospect, setting the stage for a hotly contested battle to form the days breakaway, which shall then surely go onwards to decide the honours amongst themselves.

It is a 186km trip from Nice to Nice (sound familiar?), to provide the peloton a chance to say hello to some different roads in the area, mainly those which go up and send your hopes down simultaneously. A couple of Category 1 ascents will help form the day’s break and shake out anyone feeling the damage from the preceding day, while the infamous Col d’Eze is likely to act as a launchpad for a decisive move in the deciding kilometres back to Nice…again. Oh, it’s a total lottery for Stage 2 by the way, here we go!

Contenders:

Undoubtedly the favourite for many shall be the swashbuckling Julian Alaphilippe, far from experiencing an ideal start to his home tour, there is no denying his eagerness to find himself at the front of affairs as soon as possible. He has emerged strong from the season’s hiatus, looking capable of replicating the form which previously bestowed yellow upon his shoulders for quite some time, but he might find escapees unwilling to work with him because of this.

For those whose interest is not piqued by the moustachioed Frenchman, it is likely their hopes will look to Wout van Aert for potential glory, a man who has been imperious during the belated classics of 2020. If he can survive the bulk of the day without burning too many matches, then the deciding kilometres into Nice appear ideal terrain for him to exploit the form which has already delivered him Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo this year.

Not long in the memory of pundits, Greg Van Avermaet would have been a nailed on victor for today’s 186km offering, though doubt creeps across the greatness of all cyclists at times. If class truly is permanent, then the classics specialist will muster a charge today, knowing that victory shall surely guarantee the yellow jersey too.

Speaking of old goats, Alejandro Valverde is another who will be eager to find his best legs for Stage 2, as the combination of sustained climbing and a punchy finish plays into the hands of a rider who has crushed the dreams of many on similar days. At 40 years old, it is hard to fathom why he still wants to be lining up for the rigours of Le Tour de France after yesterday’s reality check, unless he really does just love beating riders who were not even born when he turned professional. Regardless, if on form, expect the sighing of forgone conclusions from amongst the day’s breakaway.

Sergio Higuita is in sparkling form right now and could well be interested in stretching his legs on day two, though his overall intentions for the race itself are somewhat unclear, as team orders might require him to stay calm for now. An uphill finish is likely to have proven more tantalising for the Colombian, yet while others tend to their bandages, he could spring into action and secure yellow for Colombia; rapidly becoming a common feature of the tour.

The natives would love to see ‘Wawa’ in action tomorrow, though Warren Barguil is often difficult to predict, with little middle ground between surging ahead up an HC climb or vanishing out the back before the cameras even catch sight of him. If he turns up in good shape, then the terrain will lend him more than enough to make life miserable for his rivals on day two.

Stopping short of naming the rest of the peloton, others to keep an eye upon if in the day’s breakaway are:

Pello Bilbao – Well versed in making moves stick on days like these, but could be restricted by team orders.

Lennard Kämna – Has all the makings of a great cyclist and might find today ideal to truly cement his prospects.

Romain Bardet – Reckons he is only here for stage wins, so why not today?

Nicolas Edet – Longstanding addiction to futile breakaways and rides for Cofidis; dream combo.

Outcome:

1st Lennard Kämna 2nd Julian Alaphilippe 3rd Alejandro Valverde

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

We find ourselves once again on the cusp of another edition of Le Tour de France, even if COVID is set to be the greatest col to overshadow the three weeks, assuming the race lasts its entirety. Regardless, the opening stage of this year’s race is a moderate 156km jaunt from Nice to Nice, featuring a couple of Category 3 climbs which might break things up for a time. Though the assumption is that the sprinters shall not let this opportunity for a gallop go begging, as the majority of the course for 2020 will be sending them skywards.

Contenders:

The hot pick for many shall be the Irish powerhouse of Sam Bennettwho in recent years has catapulted himself to the ranks of the fastest riders on two wheels, doing so with limited team support throughout. He appears to be in strong shape after a monstrous effort secured him honours on Stage 2 of the Tour de Wallonie, but will be dealing with a slightly rejigged leadout train. Depending on how the day goes, it might not be ridden hard enough for it to be a forgone conclusion for Bennett, though if placed well late on, expect him to win by quite a margin; in sprinting terms at least.

Another who emerged from the recent Tour de Wallonie with a win and a podium is Caleb Ewanno doubt hoping that his early form of 2020 can be rediscovered for this belated Tour de France. Potentially possessing the strongest leadout team here, Lotto-Soudal are likely to be a familiar presence at the head of affairs on days like these, keeping Ewan safe during the notoriously nervy first week of racing. Though he is unlikely to be the fastest right now, his team more than make up for this and a well organised run into town can deliver him victory.

Recently crowned European and National road race champion, Giacomo Nizzolo arrives in France as the most in-form sprinter in the peloton, eager to prove he is back in the shape which delivered him points jerseys at the Giro d’Italia; despite not winning a stage. He looks to have rediscovered his hardiness, certainly able to deal with the distance and the climbing featured today, especially after a recent fifth place at the 305km Milano-Sanremo. His support in the sprints is a mixed bag, but previous success has come from his ability to surf the wheels, even if he can be his own greatest adversary at times.

Wout van Aert has now gone full ‘Sagan’ and become one of those cyclists who can turn the smallest gap into a stage winning margin. Today certainly fits his abilities to cause an upset when the thoroughbred sprinters should really be fighting it out amongst themselves. Whether in a sprint or a late move, he is going to be a thorn in the side for many at this year’s race if given the chance by his general classification focussed team.

Others to look out for are Peter SaganElia VivaniCees Bol and Niccolo Bonifazio.

Outcome:

1st Giacomo Nizzolo 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd Sam Bennett