A relatively tame affair compared to recent days, Stage 19 is the last genuine road stage before the decisive time trial and ride into Paris, totalling 166.5km from Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole. Despite only possessing a single Category 4 climb, the day is continually rolling and will offer a close fought affair between the day’s breakaway and the peloton’s remaining sprinters.
There is still the potential of seeing the green jersey change hands before the finale in the nation’s capital, which should be enough inspiration to reel in the moves and set things up for a sprint finish of sorts.
This is the final chance Peter Sagan has to truly challenge Sam Bennett for the green jersey before Paris, and given the manner in which he has ridden during the Alpine stages, Bora–Hansgrohe will surely prove to be an active force on today’s offering yet again. The intermediate sprint is late in the day too, so the ambition might well be to snatch those points with a breakaway and then push onwards to a stage victory having successfully distanced Bennett already.
It seems likely that Wout van Aert will be given permission to pursue the stage honours if possible, as his limitless energy continues throughout this year’s Tour de France, potentially setting him up for another victory thanks to the rolling nature of Stage 19. The Belgian rider looks most likely to benefit from a hard ridden race by Bora–Hansgrohe, from which he is almost guaranteed of featuring within the leading group and being fresh enough to win from the subsequent reduced sprint.
As ever, Trek-Segafredo appear to be a lottery in regards to who they shall ride for, though today suits reigning World Champion Mads Pedersen most convincingly. He has the resilience to survive the likely tempo intended to shell Sam Bennett on this terrain and will certainly challenge for the podium if present late on.
Despite showcasing their lead out prowess to near perfection, Team Sunweb have repeatedly choked when working for Cees Bol in the sprints and it makes it difficult to show much faith in them remedying this fact ahead of today’s potential sprint. It may even be that their attention is firmly placed upon the Champs-Élysées already, where Bol suits the parcours well and has the firepower to enter the finishing straight ideally placed.
Though it does seem unlikely, if the day’s breakaway is caught late on, despite a less intense racing of the day than anticipated; Sam Bennett is the clear benefactor of such an outcome. The Irishman knows he is only a few days away from making history, but is acutely aware that Peter Sagan will make today as difficult as possible in the meantime. It is not an ideal offering and we have already seen that Bennett has been bested repeatedly on similar days at this year’s Tour de France.
Others with the potential to feature are Luka Mezgec, Matteo Trentin, Caleb Ewan, Niccolo Bonifazio and Bryan Coquard.
1st Wout van Aert 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Mads Pedersen