Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 12 Preview


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


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.


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

Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 12 Preview


A 214km blast from yesterday’s finish of Osimo to Imola on Stage 12 looks to be a surefire opportunity for the sprinters to take glory for themselves again. With little of note until a tame Category 4 climb 8km from the finish, it is difficult to imagine any outcome beyond a bunch kick, especially given the broad mix of teams with an interest today.

Giro d'Italia 2018


Elia Viviani will be able to reignite his campaign upon the points classification and has worked hard to avoid working much at all in recent days; however much a juxtaposition that may sound. He appears to have looked after his condition well, confidently eyeing up another win on Stage 12, where he shall be the favourite for many to secure the honours. His rivals will seek to up the tempo over the late Category 4 climb, but with years of track experience when it comes to recovering quickly to go deep once again, Viviani will be a tough nut to crack.

Sam Bennett finally got the monkey off his back and took the first grand tour stage of his career, though will now be eager to increase that tally as soon as possible. With plenty of firepower in support of him, they will make the race hard late in the day, but perhaps do not have the topographical ammunition required to truly make the Irishman’s rivals suffer. With the first half of the Giro d’Italia now heavy in the legs of many, Bennett could though prove the most resilient of all the fast men here.

Niccolo Bonifazio is a another rider who is likely to want to utilise the rise in the road during the run into Imola as a tool to diminish the odds of Viviani taking another stage victory. He has worked hard within his team to support the ambitions of leader Domenico Pozzovivo, which means unlike others mentioned here, he does not benefit from the luxury of being a protected rider throughout the Giro. Despite this, the strength which he has shown so far is encouraging and a podium placing is well with his grasp.

Sacha Modolo has not impressed as much as expected so far, but has the potential to be one of the least fatigued during the latter half of his home grand tour. Though his team does support him to an extent, there is no depth to his leadout and he will need to surf the wheels intelligently in order to compensate for this. Luckily, this is certainly a talent for him and could prove pivotal when combined with his ability to deal with the climb before Imola, increasing the likelihood of a win.


1st Elia Viviani 2nd Sam Bennett 3rd Niccolo Bonifazio



La Vuelta a España – Stage 12 Preview


Today’s 173km trip from Escaldes-Engordany to Lleida is considerably more straight forward than yesterday’s mammoth day in the mountains. The road descends immediately from the departure in Andorra and does not begin to build upwards again until almost 40km have passed. Coll de Bóixols is the only officially recognised climb of the day, a Category 1 ascent which lasts 18.4km and maintains a manageable gradient of around 4% for the most part. This should mark the day out as another bunch sprint as we witnessed on Stage 10, an occasion which saw a surprising amount of fast finishing riders make the cut and reel back in the breakaway.

From here a long descent of about 60km follows, interrupted early on by the unrecognised Coll de Saidella, but otherwise a large chunk of easy riding on Stage 12. Another small bump appears on the profile at the 118.8km mark, after which it is a free run straight to the finish in Lleida. The finish is against a slight gradient in the final meters, however it is not a big enough factor to swap attention from the sprinters to the puncheurs on this occasion.



John Degenkolb has seen himself beaten at every time of asking so far at La Vuelta a España, so he will still be extremely motivated to make his attendance here count for something. The German has the climbing ability to make it over the only categorised climb of the day and often emerges as the strongest sprinter as the race enters its second half. Giant-Alpecin will be confident of dropping him off in the right position once again, and as long as he avoids being boxed in, it is likely Degenkolb will finally take a win. Perhaps the most encouraging note of all however, is the fact that Caleb Ewan, Nacer Bouhanni, Peter Sagan and Matteo Peluchhi are all now absent from the race.

Tosh van der Sande has been putting in a great showing for his team Lotto-Soudal so far and will be confident of doing precisely the same on Stage 12. He is one of the fastest remaining sprinters left in this race and knows how to surf wheels in the maelstrom of a bunch kick. His team will look to offer him a great deal of support as they search for a win at this year’s Vuelta, making the Belgian rider a likely feature on the day’s podium.

José Joaquín Rojas and his ambitions of winning a stage here have had to take a back seat to the general classification focus of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana. Despite this, Stage 12 appears to be the type of stage which would allow Movistar to segue neatly between protecting their team leaders’ interests and helping Rojas into a race winning pace. He is likely to have preferred a more noteworthy gradient en route to the line, but it seems likely that he will remain in contention for the win regardless.

Kristian Sbaragli has to be mentioned on the back of his Stage 10 winning exploits and will no doubt do his utmost to bring MTN-Qhubeka yet another grand tour stage win this year. The Italian looked strong heading into the rest day, but it remains unclear as to how he will cope in the wake of yesterday’s attritional affair.

Gianluca Brambilla is one of the most active riders in the race currently and he could well get in the mix for a sprint finish today or choose to take off on his own and give the bunch the slip. Should the Italian chose the latter, Brambilla is the type of man which the likes of Giant-Alpecin will not be keen on letting accumulate too great an advantage over themselves.

Jean-Pierre Drucker has placed highly on stages 3 and 5 at the Vuelta a España already and today could see him return to this habit. The BMC rider is a strongman type of sprinter and is bound to survive the day’s trials in a good enough shape to seriously contest compete the win. As mentioned previously, there is a slight incline up to the line and this should improve his odds of him winning yet further still.


1st John Degenkolb 2nd Kristian Sbaragli 3rd José Joaquín Rojas



Le Tour de France – Stage 12 Preview


The Pyrenees at this tour have certainly not been gradually building momentum, Stage 12 offering yet another gruelling day in the saddle which is capped off by a testing summit finish to act as the last hurrah midst this terrain. It is an 195km course which stretches the peloton from Lannemezan to the crushing ascent of Plateau de Beille, which is sure to instigate some dramatic riding in the final 20km. Opening with a little shy of 50km of flat riding, the first competitive exchange of the day comes at the 20km marker as the sprinters wind the pace up for the intermediate sprint.

After this, the first ascent will not begin until 43km have been clocked up, the Category 2 Col de Portet-d’Aspet (4.3km, avg. 9.7%), a climb which should not see much more action beyond that of a likely breakaway forming upon its difficult slopes. The riders then drop into the valley and start climbing once again as they approach 76km, this time tackling the Category 1 Col de la Core, a much longer climb at 14.1km but one which is relatively steady with an average gradient of 5.7% that settles into a groove of 6% to 7% for the most part. Once again the drop back down into the valley and then catching some respite during an extended run to the base of the day’s third climb. The Category 1 Port de Lers is another long climb at 12.9km, but one which will be more difficult to pace due to the varying gradient of its incline, despite averaging a manageable 6% on paper; the steepest sections reaching a maximum of 9% during a 4km stint at the mid-point.

For the third time during the stage the riders shall descend into the valley below, clocking up almost 25km in total before they find themselves at the foot of the monstrous finish. It is the HC Plateau de Beille which acts as the battleground for a likely slog between the gifted climbers and general classification riders. This 15.8km long climb is billed as one of the most testing summit finishes during 2015’s Le Tour, opening with a solid 9% for the initial 5km, before then easing moderately to 7.2%, though still liable to swinging upwards to 9.5%. It is a long and relentless grind from bottom to top, even the latter stages maintain a gradient of 6% – 7%, realistically only softening in the final 800m which are contested at 2.5%. Whoever does win here will have done so by exhibiting immense strength, determination and talent; possibly gaining a large amount of time on the general classification too.




Chris Froome is clearly the best climber in Le Tour de France currently and there is nothing stopping him from wining upon Plateau de Beille if he so wishes. Though he has no need to bury himself in order to extend his gap, Froome will be aware of how history as seen these climb dominated by those who go on to finish atop the podium in Paris and there is a chance he would like to add his name to such a list. With teammates Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte both absolutely flying right now as well, there is no question that he has the support around him and personal condition to emerge victorious once again in the Pyrenees.

The steep and consistent gradients of the final climb would normally play into the hands of Nairo Quintana very neatly indeed, but we have yet to really see him on the offensive, leaving a question mark surrounding his form to a certain extent. If Movistar play their cards well on the day, the combination of the Colombian and Alejandro Valverde could work together to give Chris Froome the first real challenge of his tour.

Pierre Rolland has been stuttering thus far, but could see his luck turn at last and exploit his current form in order to give the home crowd something to cheer about on Stage 12. It is likely he will attempt to find a place within the day’s breakaway as he is so far down on the general classification as to be of no threat to the overall contenders now, meaning little impetus to chase him. The Frenchman is usually strong on this type of big day in the mountains and the finale’s constant gradient will allow him to find his rhythm to the line.

Surprisingly absent from yesterday’s breakaway move was Lampre-Merida’s Rafael Vallsa man who was Spokenforks’ bet to dominate from such an attack on Stage 11. He looked incredibly strong on Stage 10 and his form in the last year has been evident for all to see, but it is the new team dynamics which should allow him to flourish on this last Pyrenean stage. The Italian team were disappointed to see Rui Costa abandon the tour, leaving them with no general classification hopes, so Valls is now their best possibility of glory on a fitting day such as this.

The Yates twins have said all along that their race does not truly being until the Pyrenees begin to feature upon the stage profiles, so we should see their emergence on Sage 12. With Simon Yates the more in form rider, he seems the best of the two to back, but has since come down with a bug and is now focusing upon getting fit again for the Alps instead. In which case, attention must switch to Adam Yates, the Brit having enjoyed a less successful year due to health issues, but one who retains enough natural talent to be a threat amongst any breakaway.

If Chris Froome sees an opportunity to gift his teammates a win, there is no chance of him hesitating as he often attempts his utmost to return their support during a major race. Richie Porte is riding better than anyone expected, probably including himself, and would jump at the chance to ‘save’ his season with a Tour de France win after a year which has not really gone to plan so far. Geraint Thomas‘ ability to switch from classics man to mountain goat has been incredible to watch this year, performances at Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse showcasing why he could go all the way and win here if offered the chance by Froome.

Dutch interest is evidently best represented by Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink who are coping surpassingly well with the frontrunners thus far. Both have started to animate the race and if they stick the pace during the climb to Plateau de Beille, then either Dutchman has the speed on the reduced gradients to slip off the front once again (Mollema) or win a sprint for the line (Gesink).

Thibaut PinotJoaquim Rodríguez and Romain Bardet are three riders who might compensate for their diabolical general classification performances and try to capture some glory with a bold attack on the final climb of the day. All appear to be off the pace of the frontrunners at this year’s edition, but it is wise to consider how little we have really seen of them during the mountains so far. When there is little reason to compete for time, energy is better saved and later invested into a possible stage win such as today.


Ultimately, the outcome of today seems down to the decision of Chris Froome and whether or not he wishes to challenge for the victory. If he does choose to contest the finale, then it is impossible to see anyone getting the better of the Sky leader right now and he will be the favourite for many watching if everyone is together late on. Nairo Quintana is the rider most likely to threaten Froome during the last climb, as the steep and steady gradient favours his talent and he will need to begin recouping time if he truly wishes to challenge for the yellow jersey. From a breakaway, Pierre Rolland might be the one to dominate his fellow escapees and win Stage 12 atop Plateau de Beille. The Europcar rider has the support required to remain protected ahead of making any such moves and will feel confident during a big day of climbing which usually sees him rise to the top.

1st Chris Froome 2nd Nairo Quintana 3rd Richie Porte

Outsider: Pierre Rolland


Giro d’Italia – Stage 12 Preview

On the previous day’s trip from Forlì to Imola, the breakaway once again decided the outcome from amongst their ranks, the successful move this time coming from Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin; another addition to his year’s impressive palmares so far. Carlos Betancur (2nd), Maciej Paterski (8th) and Philippe Gilbert (9th) were the highest placed of yesterday’s Spokenforks picks at the finish line in Imola; the Colombian once again in hot pursuit of a stage win at this year’s Giro d’Italia. Stage 12 offers a differing affair somewhat, opening with vastly flat terrain, before condensing some short sharp hills in to the last 55km; the conclusion coming upon a categorised climb to the line


Beginning in yesterday’s finishing town of Imola, the bunch will savour the first 126km of this 190km long stage to Vincenza, the road possessing not a single bump in the profile from the neutralised zone onwards. A small kick at Torriglia after 126km signals the start of a closing 64km which encompass three categorised climbs; including the uphill finale. The ascent to Castelnuovo is a steady average gradient of 5% during its 5.4km entirety, but the maximum of 11% is bound to make some legs creak under the strain. They will then drop through several small towns and villages including Teolo and Bastia, then ride across a pan flat section of 10km or so, before then shooting up another climb. This time a Category 3 is put before them as they ride up to Crosara, a brutal climb despite its relatively small distance of 3.7km. Though the average is 9.1%, realistically they will spend more time fighting against slopes in double figures, ultimately maxing out at 17%; the peak gradient coming quite early in the ascent. What then follows is a dash down the other side and up Perarolo’s unrecognised climb on the profile, approximately 2km long and wielding a hefty punch in a summit that touches 10% – 11%.

With ten kilometres remaining the peloton gradually descend from Perarolo and enter onto a 5km run to the line which will allow teams to jostle for position on its flat parcours. The key men will need to be in a good position as the ride tilts up again at 1.2km, from where it shall not let up until the finish line has been reached. Averaging about 7% for the most part, as the contenders approach the line, the gradient will tick upwards to 10% before reaching 11% in the final few meters to the finish. A strong rider will need to pace this well to ensure they do not burn out too soon, it seems a day tailor made for the puncheurs present at 2015’s Giro d’Italia.



The result of Stage 7 should act as a solid indicator of who is likely to be present in the mix for the win at Vincenza on Stage 12. On that day in the first week, Diego Ulissi secured a surprising win on the uphill finish, beating other such specialists to the line convincingly. He will of course now have his eyes upon doubling up here in Vincenza on similar terrain. Considering he has raced a limited scheduled heading into the Giro due to suspension, his performance was unexpected somewhat, making him a favourite for Stage 12 on a more preferable tougher slog to the line.

Juan José Lobato was the rider edged out into second place on Stage 7 and he shall aim to reverse that result here. It is likely that Movistar and Lobato circled this stage long ago has a possible win for the Spanish outfit and it is easy to see why given the finish. Lobato has demonstrated well as of late an ability to dominate these types of finishes, but the gradients here could be a little too strong for him. However, his team is well equipped with riders who can protect him and ensure he is not left isolated during the day’s gruelling climbs as well as the finish itself.

With a tougher uphill than of that in Fiuggi, Philippe Gilbert shall fancy his chances of finally picking up a stage win at this year’s Giro upon gradients likely to send his rivals slipping backwards. BMC will do their best to put their man in the best of contention for this stage which is perhaps their best chance of glory during the three weeks. Though evidently riding well off the back of a solid spring campaign, the win at this tour has remained elusive so far, but he shall see the steep run to the line as the kind of Ardennes styled terrain which has provided him with many wins over the years. Of everyone earmarked to fly their colours in the rush to the line, Gilbert perhaps possesses the greatest amount of history in these attritional sprints.

Orica-GreenEDGE will be confident of being represented as ever in this three week grand tour and are bound to look upon Simon Gerrans as the man to do the job here. He is no stranger to putting in strong performances alongside the likes of Gilbert in the Ardennes classics and will be a danger here on a steep ramp which could bring him to the fore. Of course, the Australian team are likely to have a headache when choosing their number one man for the day, as Michael Matthews is equally well regarded to dominate on these sorts of finishes. The young rider is developing a habit of winning stages which finish uphill and has certainly appeared extremely strong at this year’s Giro, maintaing a presence in select groups which are usually exclusive to the mountain men. If he stays the course and is backed fully by his team, Matthews will certainly be as threatening as ever, but would probably benefit from the sprint being taken up quite late.

Fabio Felline was unfortunate on Stage 11 and will look upon Stage 12 as a great chance to rectify this with a stage win. The Trek Factory Racing rider has proven already that he has the legs to stick it with the best on these lumpy days and a uphill finish is the sort of thing he tends to favour. With some testing climbs late on in the day, he could find himself one of the fresher feeling quick men and sprint away from those who are usually faster than him on lesser gradients. As ever, Felline will have to go about protecting himself solo and will need to stay alert when finding the right wheel to follow in the finale.

Of those who look to be considered specialists on this type of finish, Damiano Cunego warrants inclusion as a contender for Stage 12. The Italian has coped well thus far and is evidently in the midst of some of his best form in recent years; he will not wish to spurn this fact and will turn to this stage as a way of making the most of it. Cunego has history in the Ardennes, if he can recapture that form here, then there is a good case to be made for 33 year old.

Finally, a man who has perhaps been seeking a victory more than anyone else so far, AG2R La Mondiale’s Carlos Bentancur. The Colombian rider has been tasked with claiming some glory for the French outfit who sadly lost their leader Domenico Pozzovivo so early on in this race. His increase in form has almost been tangible from one day to the next at the Giro and it seems you cannot exclude him from causing an upset soon. Yesterday he was once again in the break, eventually securing second place, but is likely to feel aggrieved by the result as he appeared to be the fastest contender in a sprint had his group not allowed Zakarin to escape. With a quick finish and an obvious affinity towards climbing, Bentancur could finally hammer home his efforts in style.


The intensity of the 190km ride to Vincenza is likely to have a big impact upon the final composition of those fighting for the stage win. A more conservative day should allow the likes of Michael Matthews, Fabio Felline, Juan José Lobato and Diego Ulissi to decide the winner amongst themselves. But, as we have already seen so many times at this year’s Giro d’Italia, the teams focused upon general classification could make the last 60km much harder work than expected. In this scenario Philippe Gilbert, Simon Gerrans and Carlos Betancur begin to gain an advantage, as the accumulative damage of the three categorised climbs drain the legs of the purer sprinters throughout the day. Whoever does win will have done so through a great deal of hard work, strength, speed and sharp intelligence to predict who to follow and when to attack.

1st Philippe Gilbert 2nd Juan José Lobato 3rd Simon Gerrans 

Outsider: Carlos Betancur 

Simple Stuff – Vuelta a España Stage 12 Preview

Seen as the easiest stage of this year’s Vuelta, sprinters will have one of their few remaining chances to steal the limelight from the major GC riders today. Many suffered the previous day in the mountains, plenty of the fast-men crossing the line 15 to 17 minutes down on Fabio Aru’s fantastic win.


Racing around eight laps of Logrono, the route takes them through and out of the town until the 166.4km are completed. It is an extremely simple day in the saddle and even the finish will be seen as a straightforward drag race except for a few roundabouts.


Nacer Bouhanni will be everyone’s favourite after getting the better of John Degenkolb in the last sprint finish, displaying an incredible turn of pace once more. However, the finish is long and wide, not favouring Bouhanni’s standard tactic of lurking in the wheels before unleashing a sharp burst late on to edge out the competition. John Degenkolb seems a more inviting prospect for the win today, as the afore mentioned finish should guarantee a perfect lead out from Giant-Shimano and a good stretch of road for him to sustain a big sprint over.


1st Degenkolb 2nd Bouhanni 3rd Ferrari