Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race 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

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Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race 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 2018 Stage 13 Race 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

 

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

With little chance to reflect on the first race day of this year’s Tour de France, the peloton are immediately directed into the first mountainous campaign, where anyone who relaxed a little too much yesterday will find nowhere to hide once the pressure ratchets up. Featuring five categorised climbs during its 158.5km stretch from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, it will be a shock to the system for many, including the HC Montée du plateau des Gliéres (featuring over a kilometre of gravel) and finishing with the challenging Col de la Colombière. A chance for favourites to recoup earlier loses? Glory for the breakaway? Stage 10 is sure to be an explosive opening foray amongst the clouds.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 10 Race Preview

Contenders:

Dan Martin has showcased impressive form, despite misfortune which has seen him lose time, though this does mean he shall be eager to begin reducing his deficit as soon as possible. The Irishman will be wanting to join any move which looks to have the potential of staying away until the line, where he can remind people of his surprisingly effective sprinting abilities. If the race is still relatively together heading into the foot of the Col de la Colombière, he is a favourite for matching the big name climbers, before then leapfrogging them over the summit and attacking to victory.

Primož Roglič continues to progress as a general classification rider, with today’s offering fitting his diesel engine abilities and impressive descending talents. Having already lost a fair amount of time to the overall favourites, he could be gifted a generous amount of freedom by the peloton, which he shall not hesitate to make the most of. If he happens to place himself within the day’s decisive move, he is capable of winning a sprint after a gruelling stage like this, though would surely prefer to go solo.

Alejandro Valverde is the favourite of many for Stage 10, suiting the mix of steep gradients and downhill sections, while being essentially unbeatable in a sprint at the end of it all. Despite being 38 years old, the veteran rider is producing the level of form which has seen him dominate his favoured terrain for almost ten years now. A marked man, Valverde will need to box clever or simply be on blistering form to steal the win today, with his old tricks raising few eyebrows anymore.

Rigoberto Uran will begin to take his chances to gain lost time if he is to stand much chance of placing his general classification ambitions back on track. Undoubtedly enjoying something akin to a renaissance in his career, the Colombian is in great shape for Le Tour and will need to remind his rivals of this as soon as possible. If the bunch is still together approaching the final climb, he is one of the big names who will look to escape late in the day, while knowing only Alejandro Valverde can match him in a drag race to the line.

Outcome:

1st Primož Roglič 2nd Rigoberto Uran 3rd Dan Martin

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 9 Preview

Course:

Anticipation has long been simmering ahead of this tantalising crossover between Le Tour de France and Paris – Roubaix. Populated with a total of 15 official sectors, Stage 9’s path from Arras to Roubaix is a potentially treacherous obstacle for the riders ahead of the first rest day of this year’s edition of the race. Plenty of talented and specialist riders line up for this demanding day, though with the shadow of general classification ambitions cast strongly, it will be a strategic headache to decide if the priority is protecting team leaders or going for glory. Unlike the usual monumental distance of Paris – Roubaix, the day will be far more explosive as a result of totalling only 156.5km, meaning even greater fireworks may be ignited.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 9 Race Preview

Contenders:

John Degenkolb ended up finishing third yesterday as a result of André Greipel and Fernando Gaviria being penalised for dangerous sprinting, though this does not flatter him and his current form. There is little doubt that this is a key ambition for himself and his team, knowing that his previous expertise in winning Paris-Roubaix is likely to be priceless during the defining moments of Stage 9. Likely to be an aggressive day, the shorter distance compared to the Hell of the North could be detrimental, though a week of racing is already in the legs of the peloton, which might negate this factor convincingly so. Powerful enough to follow the danger men and unquestionably fast enough to win at the end of the day, Degenkolb could find himself victorious upon familiar territory once again.

Peter Sagan is the favourite for many ahead of the day’s stage, the indomitable three time world champion able to turn his hand to any riding specialism and prove a contender immediately. Finally winning Paris – Roubaix this year after continuous expectation and pressure, Sagan knows that he is a champion on these cobbles, only adding fuel to the inferno of which is his ego. A victory here would also help to cement a tighter grip upon the green jersey, as few rivals in that contest are likely to match him here as well.

Philippe Gilbert appears to be in fantastic shape during the opening week of Le Tour de France, no doubt now looking to put this to great use by winning Stage 9. Capable of winning from a select sprint or epic solo breakaway (as we witnessed in 2017’s Ronde van Vlaanderen) he is a hard man to anticipate. Given Quick Step’s lesser ambitions with the general classification, he is likely to be part of a potent force alongside Niki Terpstra, Bob Jungels and Yves Lampaert who have the freedom to attack the day. Gilbert rode Paris – Roubaix for the first time in a long time this year with an eye catching performance, one he will be eager to push further.

Sep Vanmarcke must feel jinxed, a specialist in one day races who is continually plagued by bad luck and misfortune. Hoping that the context of a grand tour might alter this for him, the Belgian rider will fancy his chances of going for the win, as with no serious general classification riders to protect, he can give everything to finally take a victory of sorts upon the cobblestones.

Greg Van Avermaet is seeking to extend his time in the yellow jersey until the opening barrage of mountains. Not only is he capable of achieving this ambition, he has a very strong chance of winning the stage too, especially having won the genuine Paris – Roubaix only last year. BMC shall be in a quandary however, as any freedom for Avermaet to ride his own race could result in leaving team leader Richie Porte short of support when it matters most. An interesting dynamic to observe on the day, but the Belgian should be confident of having a shot at glory regardless.

Vincenzo Nibali could cause a stir amongst the peloton on Stage 9, as the grand tour specialist has growing ambitions to take a clean sweep of the five monuments before retiring, ensuring that we will not see the Italian shy away from the action. A dramatic Milan – San Remo earlier this season exemplified his strategic prowess compared to many, yet the feeling is that he is bound to be underestimated yet again by his rivals. His performance in 2014, when Le Tour de France visited the cobblestones in the rain, resulted in a third place finish ahead many of today’s classic specialists. As ever, the Shark of Mesina remains one to keep an eye upon.

Niki Terpstra possesses fantastic pedigree when it comes to racing around these parts of France and Belgium where cobblestones and hellingen are commonplace. An unrivalled performance during De Ronde this season was spectacular, while his previous victory at Paris – Roubaix certainly means he is comfortably placed upon Stage 9’s list of favourites. Likely to wait for a lull in the action or until his rivals go into the red, Terpstra’s best chance will come from his trademark solo attack. Additionally, fighting alongside his teammates from Quick Step can only help to soften the peloton up before he gives it everything.

Taylor Phinney was long touted as a future Paris – Roubaix champion, but racing schedules and a significant injury has meant that his talent for this type of terrain has fallen to the back of some people’s minds. A back to back winner on these cobbles at Paris – Roubaix Espoirs and an 8th place finish at this year’s elite edition sinks any doubt about his capabilities on Stage 9. With enough talent in the team to help protect leader Rigoberto Uran, the American powerhouse should be given the freedom to chase this victory, one which he would richly deserve if successful.

Outcome:

1st Philippe Gilbert 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Greg Van Avermaet

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 7 Preview

Course:

Stretching for a total of 231km from Fougeres to Chartres, Stage 7 is the longest day in the saddle for the riders at this year’s Tour de France. Featuring just a single categorised climb, this gently undulating path deeper into France looks to be a happy hunting ground for the sprinters once again. The finale itself concludes with a wide finishing straight, against a moderate gradient of 2%, which will make timing the sprint even more crucial if a prevailing headwind is apparent late on.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage Seven Race Preview

Contenders:

Fernando Gaviria looks to be the favourite once again, enjoying his first Tour de France in convincing form and equipped with a Quick Step team who cannot help but win. The distance should not be of concern for the Colombian rider, as we have already seen during his earlier career that he can cope with the rigours of Milan – San Remo, a certainly tougher affair than today’s offering.

Arnaud Démare seems to have already fallen down the pecking order of contenders, despite not really having had a chance to demonstrate his great form this season. He was unable to contest the first opportunity to sprint at this year’s race, which was then followed by a powerful drag race on Stage 4 that did not suit his strengths at all. Today’s distance and slight gradient to the line will play into the hands of the Frenchman and could produce a blunt reminder of why he must not be forgotten already.

Dylan Groenewegen has not been at the level many had expected from the Dutchman thus far, with plenty considering this a potential breakthrough grand tour, yet things have not gone his way yet. Regardless, his immense power and positional abilities mark him out as a clear danger in relation to a finish such as this.

Peter Sagan can never be discounted from the win, but seems more like to take another podium finish here instead. The World Champion is eager to get his hands on the green jersey once again and knows that his immense consistency is unmatchable for many, therefore picking up points without risking his safety looks a sound plan on a stage like today.

André Greipel was exceptionally close to pulling off the perfect sprint on Stage 4, yet ran out of steam just before the line while battling against Fernando Gaviria and a testing cross-headwind. The finale today is not ideal for the German powerhouse, yet with 153 professional wins under his belt, it would be foolish to think this is beyond the seasoned campaigner.

Outcome:

1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Fernando Gaviria 3rd Dylan Groenewegen

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 6 Preview

Course:

A 181km jaunt from Brest to the iconic climb of the Mür de Bretagne, providing the peloton’s finest puncheurs with a chance to test themselves upon the brutal finishing slope at the end of the day. Rolling throughout and featuring a total of four recognised climbs, much of Stage 6 should prove a tame affair, with many teams eager to ensure everything is back together for the anticipated battle up the Mür de Bretagne. With approximately 20km left of the day’s racing, the riders will be required to ascend the Mür for the first time, giving them one last chance to tweak any plans ahead of the decisive second climb to the line.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage Six Race PreviewLe Tour de France 2018 Stage Six Race Preview

Contenders:

Alejandro Valverde is no stranger to mürs having won La Flèche Wallonne an astounding five times against the Mür de Huy, making him the clear favourite for victory on Stage 6. A specialist like no other, it will take a great strategic manoeuvre to soften his grip upon his dominance of this climb, but we did see it was possible to do so earlier this spring.

Julian Alaphilippe was the man to finally interrupt the dominance of Valverde at La Flèche Wallonne when winning earlier this year and will definitely fancy his chances of doing so once again here on the Mür de Bretagne. It could be argued that the fact this has taken the shape of a Tour de France stage rather than an Ardennes classic could favour the Frenchman with eyes on another win atop the wall.

Dan Martin has often proved the best man after Alejandro Valverde during springtime finishes like these, though must feel as if he is stuck in a video loop with how each contest seems to play out as he loses touch in the final moments to the Spaniard. However, Martin is another rider who may benefit from this famous climb being part of a Tour de France stage, leaving him to be more explosive and potentially overtake his rivals when it matters most upon the Mür.

Alexis Vuillermoz took the win when Le Tour de France last finished here and will have his eyes on repeating this feat once again, though shall not doubt appreciate his previous glory will have reduced his freedom compared to 2015.

Others to consider are Peter SaganPierre LatourGreg Van Avermaet, Daryl Impey and Rigoberto Uran.

Outcome:

1st Julian Alaphilippe 2nd Alejandro Valverde 3rd Dan Martin