Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race 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

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Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race 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 2018 Stage 18 Race 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 2018 Stage 18 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 18 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 18 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 18 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