Once again, there is plenty of climbing to help identify those on good form during Stage 18, though it is the HC Montée du plateau des Glières which is destined to break the legs given the average gradient of 11.2%. It is likely that a similar affair to yesterday’s action once again repeats, seeing a limited breakaway gain an advantage, before then witnessing an elite group of podium favourites surge past them en route to victory.
In total it is 175km from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron, featuring five categorised climbs and an extremely limited amount of flat roads for the bunch to catch their breath.
There is little to suggest that Primož Roglič will be unable to lead the charge into the day’s finish, after which his imperious array of teammates will position him perfectly once more, allowing the Slovenian to execute another potent turn of pace to deliver victory.
It will be interesting to see how Tadej Pogačar performs, after the showing yesterday, which some may interpret as the early signs of a faltering yellow jersey campaign. He needs to steal time off Roglič before the time trial and should be motivated to ride aggressively as a result of this fact.
After a couple of quiet days, it shall be little surprise to see Marc Hirschi in the thick of it once more, eager to further capitalise upon his form. If able to match the best for pace over the bulk of climbs, his descending and sprinting talents could be enough to assure another stage win.
A surprising showing from Alejandro Valverde in recent days makes him a contender for Stage 18, as the sweeping descent into town will surely appeal, especially after reminding himself that the yellow jersey group are not far from his current form.
Similar can be said for Julian Alaphilippe, though it does still seem that his chances are still limited to either winning or blowing up again, which makes it difficult to gauge how well his preparation for the stage has truly been. Combining his convincing climbing talents and sprinting prowess makes him an obvious contender.
In regards to the podium battle, it will be interesting to see how Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Rigoberto Uran seek to upsey the standings, while Miguel Ángel López remains eager to cement his current placing.
1st Primož Roglič 2nd Tadej Pogačar 3rd Marc Hirschi