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 17 Preview

Course:

Le Tour de France 2020 arrives at its ‘queen stage’ in the final week, with both the overall win and third podium position on a knife’s edge, while plenty of other teams scramble to save their tour by taking a late stage victory.

Stage 17 is a 170km from the tour’s Alpine heart of Grenoble to the summit of Col de la Loze, featuring the fearsome Col de la Madeleine en route, helping to the bring the day’s total climbing to 4430m. Both of these ascents are long in duration and possess extended periods of gradients hovering in and around the double digit mark, making for a hellish day in the saddle; the Col de la Loze even dishing out ramps of 18% – 24% late on.

For many it will be a case of survival, but for those involved with the yellow jersey and the overall podium, it will be an opportunity to overturn deficits or cement leads convincingly.

Contenders:

It will be a day for Primož Roglič to demonstrate the value of possessing a team as powerful as Jumbo-Visma, who are bound to seek to set a pace so intense in the finale, that nobody has a hope of gaining time over the current yellow jersey by attacking. The concluding climb of the day does not truly suit Roglič in a manner to suggest he is poised for stage honours, yet his relatively defensive racing thus far, might prove to have been a foil ahead of a day he knows will be decisive if he can seize the stage with an aggressive performance.

The duration and steep ramps suit the yellow jersey’s compatriot Tadej Pogačar better, who has proven eager to make any possible advantages count and is bound to be seen on the front foot once again here. His greatest concern will be the potential of being isolated early in the day, as beyond the support of David de la Cruz, he is not blessed with much of a team for the high mountains. Able to follow all of Roglič’s attacks so far, then return the favour with more venom, it could be a dominant stage victory for the Tour de France debutant yet again.

Form seems to be appearing late into this Tour de France for Miguel Ángel López, though it may arrive on time for him to take the honours on Stage 17. His late attack yesterday was deserving of a second over the yellow jersey group, despite what the commissaires ruled, showcasing the Colombian’s ability to sense an opportunity and execute it effectively. The length and total altitude of the final climb look favourable, but can his form better those around him?

There is a hint of the best from Enric Mas once more, ahead of a stage which does play to his strengths well, especially given previous performances on similar terrain in the past. He will need to get clear of the yellow jersey group early on the Col de la Loze however, but if he can settle into a suitable tempo and grind through the 18% – 24% ramps late in the day, he has a chance.

The ongoing battle for third place on the podium is also likely to instigate attacks from Adam YatesRigoberto Uran, Richie Porte and Mikel Landa.

Outcome:

1st Tadej Pogačar 2nd Miguel Ángel López 3rd Primož Roglič

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 14 Preview

Course:

Stage 14’s 194km run from Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon will be an appetising prospect for those keen to pick up a stage win from a potential breakaway. There is plenty of climbing to be completed early on in the day, with the 10.2km Col du Béal bound to help shape the day’s decisive break away. The concluding doubleheader of Category 4 ascents should not be decisive, yet if the run into these has proven gruelling, then there is every chance these could be the deciding factor when it comes to the day’s frontrunners.

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 14 Preview

Contenders:

The majority of the day’s climbing comes early enough for Peter Sagan to consider getting in the mix and ultimately deciding the day’s outcome. Utilising his team to great effect once again, putting pressure upon the pure sprinters and placing himself amongst an elite group from which he could be the strongest left fighting for stage honours

It feels impossible to disregard Wout van Aert on most stages at this year’s Tour de France, which will make him a serious contender on today’s offering, where his ability to cope with rolling terrain is bound to prove favourable. His turn of pace is deadly on such gradients as those featuring in this finale, and if given the chance to pursue the win, would be tough to beat.

This might finally be a chance for Luka Mezgec to show his worth, as this terrain suits his talents extremely well, if he is on a good day. His potential lead out train could prove decisive if functioning correctly, while the distance and parcours of Stage 14, further plays into the hands of a rider who performs best when others suffer most.

Having now lost the leadership of Giacomo Nizzolo in the sprints, NTT Pro Cycling are likely to look to Norwegian superstar Edvald Boasson Hagen in order to be represented in the day’s conclusion. The strength of Boasson Hagen and his team is likely to secure him a safe passage into the finale, but there is a feeling that his survival would also guarantee the presence of those faster around him.

Others to consider from either a reduced sprint or breakaway are: Matteo Trentin, Bryan CoquardGreg van AvermaetJasper Stuyven and Clement Venturini.

Outcome:

1st Wout van Aert 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Edvald Boasson Hagen

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 2018 – Stage 18 Preview

Course:

The almost annual visit to Pau appears on Stage 18 this year, serving as the finish line to a 171km run from Trie-Sur-Baïse, potentially offering the remaining sprinters a penultimate opportunity of victory before the peloton arrives at the Champs Élysées on Sunday. There is little in the way of climbing, especially after yesterday’s monumental stage, with fatigue a key factor which could benefit the breakaway in their hopes of striking gold by the end of the day. With a technical conclusion once again for the sprinters, those who have anything left resembling a leadout train will be at a definite advantage compared to their rivals.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race Preview

Contenders:

Alexander Kristoff shall certainly fancy his chances of winning today after rival Peter Sagan fell heavily during yesterday’s stage and is now likely to be focused on simply making it to Paris in good shape. The Norwegian’s team has worked hard for teammate Dan Martin, though should still be able to offer him a degree of protection and assistance during Stage 18, keeping him fresh for the finish in Pau.

John Degenkolb found great form earlier in the race during his triumph upon the cobblestones and will now be confident of picking up a late win at Le Tour as the attritional nature of the race sees him rise to the top of the favourites. As one of the only riders still in possession of a convincing leadout train, Trek-Segafredo will prove an immense asset during the technical finale, likely to be the deciding factor in Degenkolb’s ambitions to double on victory in the final week.

Magnus Cort has history of picking up stage wins late in a grand tour, looks fresh and is certainly one of the fastest remaining in the peloton. However, the finale is not ideal and his team are unlikely to offer much which can rival the likes of Groupama-FDJ or Trek-Segafredo in terms of a leadout. Instead, Cort could find success in a late breakaway move on the final climb of the day, knowing that those likely to join him will struggle to better him in a sprint.

Arnaud Démare should really have several wins under his belt at this year’s Tour de France, yet has continually made costly errors in the final moments of stages, leaving himself and the team without any glory at their native grand tour. Despite being the fastest sprinter present, and supported by a team which exists only to help him win, the feeling is that Démare will struggle once again to make his presence felt when it matters most. He has suffered in the mountains quite noticeably and is surely now past his best at this race.

Outcome:

1st John Degenkolb 2nd Alexander Kristoff 3rd Arnaud Démare

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 17 Preview

Course:

Beginning with an F1 style grid start, the incredibly short 65km Stage 17 from Bagnéres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan is intended to light a fire beneath the general classification, if not a stack of C4. With an astounding 3200m of climbing in such a brief time, this will be a brutal affair which is likely to transform cracks of weakness into gaping voids within a few pedal strokes. The finale is atop the monstrous Col du Portet, demanding more than 2000m of climbing itself from bottom to top, destined to see some riders succumb to its fierce slopes.

Contenders:

Romain Bardet must attack today if he is to have anything to help limit his losses in the upcoming individual time trial. Such an intense stage will lend itself well to his explosive nature, while the distance will also make it harder for his rivals to calculate when to reel him back into the lead group. Tactically astute and looking strong, a well timed attack upon the Col du Portet may cause havoc amongst the general classification group.

Chris Froome will look to take advantage of those attempting to crack yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas, keeping his powder dry and pouncing with a full gas effort when the opportunity appears. Renowned for his high cadence attacks on the steepest of climbs, the day’s concluding ascent is going to be decisive and lends itself well to Froome’s ability to drill his way to the summit. Depending on how teammate Thomas performs, there is a strong possibility that Froome will finish the day with a stage win and the maillot jaune.

Adam Yates was unfortunate yesterday when crashing on the final descent while looking on course to secure his first Tour de France stage win. However, the British rider has already commented on how much more suitable today’s course is for him, signalling that he still feels strong enough to contest honours after his efforts yesterday. With no real threat to the general classification, there is every chance Yates will also be gifted the freedom to attack while the bigger names simple stare at one another.

Tom Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk, Mikel Landa & Nairo Quintana all know that they need to perform strongly today, though it might simply be a case of survival for these, as their chances of genuinely putting time into the duo of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome looks as tough as the Col du Portet itself.

Outcome:

1st Adam Yates 2nd Romain Bardet 3rd Chris Froome

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 16 Preview

Course:

Treacherous waters await the peloton as they exit the final rest day of this year’s Tour de France, no rider truly certain of how their body will have coped with a day away from the rigours of racing. Their return begins on Stage 16, a 218km trek from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon, featuring five categorised climb and a rapid descent into the finishing line. Looking like a key day for the mountains classification, expect the general classification favourites to be content with letting the breakaway vanish up the road and decide the honours amongst themselves on this occasion.


Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 16 Race Preview

Contenders:

Warren Barguil is likely to fancy another swashbuckling attempt to sweep up the mountains points, as the Frenchman has made no attempt to hide his ambition to finish in the polka dot jersey by Paris. He looked strong in the second week of racing, and if he is fortunate to have sustained this factor as others begin to wane, then his chances of success look good.

Julian Alaphilippe needs to be following the moves keenly today if he is to retain his ownership of the polka dot jersey at the end of the day. With much of the day’s climbing being backloaded on Stage 16, this could make it tough for him to follow the biggest attacks late on, as a more explosive tail end to the day from his rivals could expose the fact he is not a pure climber.

Rafal Majka soon saw his general classification ambitions crumble before him once again, which no doubt means his focus will switch to taking the polka dot jersey if possible. Stage 16 is an ideal platform to really kick on in this respect, putting Barguil and Alaphilippe under some serious pressure ahead of the bigger days in the Pyrenees.

Omar Fraile makes the most of his strongest form whenever possible and it would not be surprising to see him in the break again and ultimately be one of the favourites to win Stage 16. Able to manage his efforts effectively, knowing precisely when to inflict the killer blow upon his rivals, Fraile has good pedigree when it comes to grand tour stages like these.

Romain Bardet seems to be the general classification rider most likely to attempt an attack in the concluding moments of Stage 16, especially with such a considerable descent down to the finish line. He could choose to ride the Col du Portillon at a fearsome pace, hoping to place his rivals on the rivet, before then pushing them into the red with another daredevil attack on the downhill into the day’s finish.

Outcome:

1st Warren Barguil 2nd Rafal Majka 3rd Omar Fraile

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

A relatively simple Stage 13 takes the riders from Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of yesterday’s epic Alpe d’Huez finale, to Valence some 169.5km later. With the top line of sprinters having seen its ranks devastated (Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, Dylan Groenewegen and Fernando Gaviria now all absent from the race) it will be more difficult to control the breakaway for the originally anticipated sprint finish. With so many absentees, it is a great chance for the lesser known quick men to place themselves onto the podium, though such diminished numbers could prove irresistible for riders to chance their luck in the day’s move instead. The run into Valence is extremely technical, where a dominant leadout train could snap the bunch in two, depending on their ability to smoothly navigate the roundabouts and turns.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race Preview

Contenders:

Peter Sagan must already feel as if another green jersey victory in Paris is assured, his lead upon the contest as strong as ever, with many of his potential rivals having now left the race. At the very least we can expect to see the world champion take a podium place, though the win is certainly possible, depending on his condition off the back of yesterday’s tough stage.

Arnaud Démare possesses a full team, one which is there entirely for him and will be extremely confident of ensuring the day ends with a sprint victory for himself. This is a golden opportunity to make their presence here worthwhile, and having only looked second best in the leadouts to masterminds Quick Step, Démare could be the man to beat.

Christophe Laporte has seen the pack thinned down sufficiently for him to begin considering himself a threat upon the stage honours. A consistent rider who perhaps only requires better support to really succeed, he can place himself in the shop window today if chasing home the bigger name riders.

Alexander Kristoff will not have an entire team to help him due to their interest in protecting Dan Martin, but the Norwegian hard man is used to fending for himself. Given that the final kilometres are likely to be a messy affair, this should prove beneficial for him and certainly improve his odds of challenging for the win.

John Degenkolb is no stranger to bunch sprints, though given his time away due to injury and increased focus upon the classics, it is easy to forget he has 10 Vuelta a España victories for a good reason. Having perfectly executed his plan upon the cobblestones during the opening week, confidence will be high and his form is more than enough evidence to argue for greater support from his teammates in guaranteeing a sprint finish in Valence.

Outcome:

1st Arnaud Démare 2nd John Degenkolb 3rd Alexander Kristoff

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 12 Preview

Course:

As if the rigours of yesterday’s stage were not already enough to make the riders jelly legged, Stage 12 sends the peloton over an assortment of brutal climbs, including Col de la MadeleineCol de la Croix de Fer and culminating atop the legendary Alpe d’Huez.With friction already apparent amongst the general classification contenders, those with eyes upon the yellow jersey will need to begin their foray into action to stand a chance of glory. Totalling 175.km from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez, the grupetto will be hoping for an easier life than yesterday, one which saw the likes of Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish miss the time cut.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 12 Race Preview

Contenders:

Chris Froome finds himself in a strong position ahead of a decisive stage finish atop Alpe d’Huez, teammate Geraint Thomas currently in yellow and allowing Froome to sit on the wheel of his rivals as the responsibility falls to them in order to ignite the battle. With a great record upon the final climb itself, Froome knows he shall be able to make an impact upon the general classification if the chance appears.

Romain Bardet hesitated yesterday and thus saw Chris Froome vanish up the road ahead of him, particularly frustrating given the condition he is currently in. Though the finale does not suit him perfectly, as an overall stage, Bardet should find several chances to turn the screw upon his rivals and see if any cracks appear.

Nairo Quintana is another who possesses an encouraging record upon Alpe d’Huez, though has never quite been able to muster the ability to go all the way and take victory. If interested in kicking off his campaign upon the yellow jersey, then the feeling is that today is a good stage to do so.

Pierre Rolland is ever interested in taking the scalps of the biggest climbs of his native grand tour and is the man most likely to win Stage 12 ahead of the general classification riders. The Frenchman appears to be enjoying better form these days and will know that seeing such strength go to waste would be a travesty.

Outcome:

1st Chris Froome 2nd Romain Bardet 3rd Nairo Quintana

Le Tour de France 2020 – Stage 21 Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 11 Preview

Course:

A short but intense 108.5km trek from Albertville to La Rosière offers little in the shape of flat roads, with the riders poised to tackle four categorised climbs during the day. A double-header of HC ascents in Montée de Bisanne and Col du Pré comprise the first half of Stage 11, where plenty of riders shall soon discover if they have the legs for victory or the broom-wagon. The final rise to the finish is 17.6km with an average of 5.8% and could provide us with the first genuine skirmish amongst the yellow jersey contenders.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 11 Race Preview

Contenders:

Pierre Rolland is no stranger to the pursuit of the polka dot jersey and is likely to view Stage 11 as a springboard to a genuine campaign upon the mountains classification. With no real danger to the general classification, the Frenchman is bound to be given the freedom to join any move he can and has a sharp enough finish see the day out with a victory too.

Warren Barguil shall be testing the water on Stage 11, seeing who else is likely to begin challenging him for the polka dot jersey, at least learning who best to keep an eye upon during these days in the mountains. The lithe climber has made it clear his ambition is to leave this three week grand tour with the maillot à pois rouges upon his shoulders, thus his presence will surely be felt en route to La Rosière.

Romain Bardet has not had the best of luck during the opening week of racing, yet has demonstrated immense strength to overcome each hurdle convincingly, now appearing to be champing at the bit for these tough mountainous stages. With an uphill finish to La Rosière on offer, he may not win the stage, but will be a key instigator of any activity amongst the general classification favourites.

Dan Martin perhaps fancies his chances too on Stage 11, knowing that it is now or never to cash in on his blistering form which has already delivered him a stage win at this year’s race. Additionally, due to his earlier time losses, the Irishman is unlikely to be hounded down by the yellow jersey favourites and could instead find the space to attack upon the rise to La Rosière. Other than Alejandro Valverde or perhaps Rigoberto Uran, few can match Martin in a sprint for the line after such a gruelling day in the saddle.

Outcome:

1st Dan Martin 2nd Warren Barguil 3rd Romain Bardet