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.
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 Martinez, Enric Mas, Julian Alaphilippe, Marc Hirschi,, Nelson Oliveira and Lennard Kämna.
1st Tadej Pogačar 2nd Primož Roglič 3rd Richie Porte