Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 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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La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-13

La Vuelta a España – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

As the peloton closes in on the two week mark of this year’s Vuelta a España, the impetus to chase down moves on a day such as this (which lacks general classification importance and enough committed sprinters’ team), should leave Stage 13 perfect for the breakaway to take it all the way to the line. The day’s 177km journey from Calatayud to Tarazona offering up considerably rolling terrain which will favour a well drilled breakaway group, rather than the more cumbersome peloton and its sprinters. The riders begin climbing a short ascent immediately from the start, but really the opening 30km are predominately downhill or gently rolling. From here they begin heading upwards to and begin the first of two consecutive categorised climbs, the Category 3 Alto Collado de Oseja (8.2km avg 3.7%) which drags upwards to the following task.

The Category 1 Alto de Beraton (10.9km avg 4.7%) will be another slog, who’s beginning was only momentarily interrupted by several kilometres of downhill respite. After the summit, life becomes a lot easier as a long and steady descent takes them to the start of the day’s final climb with 135km having been completed. Only the Category 3 Alto del Moncayo (8.5km, avg 4.5%) will now separate the frontrunners from the finish line, a simple enough challenge which should be tackled at a steady pace considering its modest gradient. It is nearly downhill all the way to the line from the summit of this last climb, though the road does kick upwards with around 5km left to ride, but the finish is ultimately flat and free of obstacles.

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-13

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-13

Contenders:

Jens Keukeleire has the required skill set to perform convincingly here on Stage 13, the Belgian rider looking comfortable at La Vuelta when he has decided to go on the attack. Assuming he paces life in the breakaway well, he is bound to be the fastest man in a group which comes to the line together.

Gianluca Brambilla is eager to convert his efforts at the race so far into a stage victory, with today possibly offering him such an opportunity. Brambilla’s climbing has been very strong up to this point and he will no doubt survive the course if he targets the day, relying on his fantastic turn of speed to dominant the sprint from a large breakaway or to establish solo move late on.

Sylvain Chavanel is a habitual breakaway rider and there is a strong chance that he will feature in any move which tries to establish itself today. The Frenchman may be in his twilight years, but his racing nous and ability to calculate his efforts on the fly always mark the IAM Cycling rider out as a contender.

Alessandro De Marchi is another similarly breakaway obsessed rider and has already been quite active in that respect during the first half of this race. BMC are on the hunt for stage victories since their hopes of a general classification battle faded in the wake of Tejay Van Garderen and Stage 13 is an ideal springboard to allow De Marchi to attempt such a move.

Ruben Plaza is once again in a similar mould as to the previous couple of riders mentioned above and has demonstrated his strength in the break on several occasions during La Vuelta already. Victory has slipped from his fingers on these previous attempts, but there is no reason to rule him out of contention here because of these failings.

José Joaquín Rojas possesses a great blend of sprinting ability and climbing strength, a deadly combination on a day such as this which is so suited to the breakaway. Should he choose to join a move, it will be difficult to drop him and subsequently earmark him as the favourite to win a reduced sprint. Even if he decides he is better off hiding in the peloton all day in an attempt to conserve his energy, Rojas remains one of the biggest threats to a rider such as John Degenkolb in a bigger bunch kick.

Tosh Van Der Sande has been riding extremely impressively so far and warrants inclusion here as a possible breakaway or sprint contender. His strength will catch many by surprise right now and underestimating him here could prove a costly error.

Stephen Cummings has demonstrated his affinity for breakaways throughout two grand tours this year and Stage 13 will certainly catch his eye as an opportunity to take another win. The power which he provides such a move with is always welcomed by other riders, but he will have to go it alone at the perfect moment to stand a chance of winning upon today’s finish.

Outcome:

1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd José Joaquín Rojas 3rd Alessandro De Marchi

Le-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-13-Preview-

Le Tour de France – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

The majority of the peloton will be happy to have exited the Pyrenees at last, switching the attention from the climbers and the battle for the general classification, back to a broader spectrum of contenders on Stage 13. For those averse to the mountain passes, they will have to savour this brief detour from the big climbs, as it will not be long until they are into the Alps and battling huge passes once again.

It will be a 198.5km journey which threads the riders from the start in Muret to the day’s finale in Rodez, a familiar touchstone for Le Tour throughout its history. Gentle enough rolling terrain will be the order of play during the opening 90km – 100km of racing, the only real instigator of interest coming with the intermediate sprint which appears at 92.5km. The road begins to build upwards after this upon an unrecognised climb, before then dropping down sharply and turning onto the first categorised ascent of Stage 13.

From here on in, the real battle for today’s outcome is lit, the Category 3 Côte de Saint-Cirgue opening the legs up during its average gradient of 5.8% which lasts for a total of 3.8km. Concentration will remain an imperative right the way to the line, the roads posing a testing task to navigate as the parcours consistently wind their way through ascents and descents from one moment to the next. The second summit will be reached by 156.5km, Côte de la Pomparie offering an easier challenge at 2.8km in length and an average gradient of 5% which ticks over steadily. The final official climb’s summit is reached at the 167km marker, the longer Côte de la Selve (3.9km, avg 3.7%) closing the book upon Stage 13’s recognised ascents.

A momentary lull is likely to follow the final climb, but it will not last long as the road kicks up once again to tackle an unrecognised ascent which tops out only 10.5km from the line. It is bound to play host to some feisty exchanges as puncheurs attempt to go clear ahead of the descent to the finish line. The road does not flatten out again until 2.5km from home, this will take them though a series of reasonably technical bends and place them upon the unrecognised Côte Saint-Pierre drag which should crown the victor. Though only 570m in total, its average of 9.6% gradient offers the powerful puncheurs an opportunity to empty the tank and burst clear for the line.

 

Le-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-13-Preview-

Contenders:

Dan Martin is in fantastic form at the moment and is unlucky to have fallen victim of mistiming his attacks twice already, currently bolstering a pair of second place finishes. Though the finale here is tough enough in regards to gradient for a puncheur such as Martin, it may not last long enough to see him come to the fore. Regardless, given his current condition and motivation to not leave Le Tour empty handed, he must be considered for the win here on Stage 13.

The eye of many shall be caught by Peter Sagan on a finish which is likely to leave him the strongest of the sprinters and fastest of the puncheurs. As ever at Le Tour, Sagan has demonstrated a diverse range of talents which allow him to consistently collect points for the Green Jersey competition beyond that of the drag races favoured by André Greipel and Mark Cavendish. Assuming he is well positioned as the fireworks begin exploding in the final kilometre, Sagan possesses the best of both worlds, making him a clear favourite to (finally) win at 2015’s Le Tour de France.

Another obvious contender for stage honours today is Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who is demonstrating his ability to ride into form despite beginning this contest somewhat undercooked. He did not perform as well as expected on his favoured Mur de Huy, but has started to appear a strong frontrunner during the difficult Pyrenees. If he has truly timed his blossoming form as well as many are stating, then he is possibly the fastest puncheur on this almost 10% finishing gradient and has what is required to beat power based rivals such as Sagan.

The finish does suit Tony Gallopin well, though he might now be focused more intently on securing a top ten general classification lacing, so investing his efforts here might be a struggle to justify. He has a quick sprint and goes well on these sharp inclines, but is likely to have fancied a more arduous finale in order to get the best from him; such as the Mur de Huy on Stage 3.

Greg Van Avermaet should view Stage 13 as a real chance for glory, the finale itself almost tailor-made to his attributes. As ever, he is strong if joining the day’s breakaway or biding his time in the bunch, ensuring he remains a threat despite lacking team support due to the needs of Tejay Van Garderen. Though plenty of faster men could beat him in a normal sprint, this difficult drag up the line will play perfectly into the hands of Greg Van Avermaet and he could easily secure a podium place if feeling fresh.

Given his likely team support in the final moments and the power required to overcome the uphill run to the line, John Degenkolb is a natural contender for the win on Stage 13. The German certainly has the strength to overcome this battle and has form in the last year for beating the puncheurs on similar terrain; even getting the better of Alejandro Valverde on a more difficult climb than this recently. Perhaps most favourably for Degenkolb is how good his condition tends to be upon exiting the first run of mountains at Le Tour, likely to surprise some heading into a sprint on day thirteen.

Another sprinter worth mentioning on a day such as this is Europcar’s Bryan Coquard, a lightweight rider with a frightening turn of pace in the final run to the line. His performances on these climbs to the line are well documented and he has made no secret of his intentions to feature here as long as he enters the day in good condition. That is the key factor for the diminutive sprinter, he has not appeared to cope well with the Pyrenees and could have seen his legs weaken too greatly to contest the win. Regardless, he is worth mentioning considering his strengths align well with the likely requirements of a winner on Stage 13.

Outcome:

A battle between Alejandro Valverde and Peter Sagan could prove an exciting possibility at the end of Stage 13, the battle of puncheur and strongman sprinter likely to decide the winner here. Both men are in brilliant form at this year’s race and looked to have coped particularly well with everything the Pyrenees had to throw at them. Sagan consistently goes beyond expectation and sticks with the best on terrain which does not always suit him, but comes up short so frequently it just seems that Valverde is likely to get the better of him. Though the Spaniard was several lacking on his favourite Mur de Huy finale of Stage 3, he has so far ridden himself into ever improving condition and looks incredibly aggressive right now alongside the major overall contenders. John Degenkolb is possibly the next best sprinter to feature here given his power, while the puncheurs such as Dan Martin, Greg Van Avermaet and Tony Gallopin have the skills required to get the better of the faster finishing riders. The possibility of a breakaway making it all the way to the line is actually quite high here given the terrain of Stage 13’s second half, but the broad selection of riders who suit today’s finale should ensure that the chase behind is strong enough to reel anyone back late on.

1st Alejandro Valverde 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Dan Martin

Outsider: John Degenkolb

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-13-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Giro d’Italia – Stage 13 Preview

BMC finally converted their efforts into a stage win as Philippe Gilbert caught Tanel Kangert at the death, before then motoring up to the line and finishing several bike lengths ahead of maglia rosa Alberto Contador. Stage 13 is the most clear cut chance for the sprinters to make their presence here worthwhile, especially having learnt a harsh lesson on Stage 10 when beginning the chase to the breakaway far too late. Without the slightest kink of tarmac during the day, the likes of Lotto-Soudal, Trek Factory Racing and Lampre-Merida will do their upmost to control the race as best as possible and guarantee them a sprint finish on this occasion.

Course:

The course for Stage 13 offers little to discuss, starting in Montecchio Maggiore it rolls steadily towards the coast yet again during this year’s Giro d’Italia, finishing some 147km later in Jesolo. A short and simple affair which will allow the major general classification rivals to turn their legs over with little stress, with the big mountains appearing in the coming days for them. Some anxieties will remain present as ever however, the sprinters and their squads will have to stay alert to the varied threats of road furniture which can scupper a rider’s chances in an instant. Positioning will be key in the finale as the leaders trace their way around two roundabouts in the last kilometre, before then making their final turn and exiting on to the 500m long finishing straight which shall crown the winner in Jesolo. 

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-13-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Contenders:

Attention will once again turn to the riders who are synonymous with these fierce gallops to the line, but the fastest on paper might not win here after several days which proved more testing than expected. Freshness will play a key part, those who have limited their exertions since Stage 10 will view the day has an opportunity to restore the natural order of things at the Giro. André Greipel has already proven during this tour that he is the fastest in a flat out drag race to the line, but Stage 13 is not quite the type of finale which he will have fancied in order to double his tally so far. The technical finish does not suit his attributes at all, even though his lead out at this Giro has been far better than expected given the limited personnel available to him. Perhaps most importantly of all for the German’s chances of winning in Jesolo is the likelihood of a strong downpour as they approach the finale, a slippery surface could deter Greipel from committing wholeheartedly at the risk of injury and an awareness that at least two further sprint stages remain. If conditions are favourable however and the Lotto-Soudal lead out nullifies the technical finish somewhat, André Greipel remains the man to beat in a straight up sprint.

Lampre-Merida know that Sacha Modolo has a penchant for tricky finishes and will do their upmost to place him in contention for the win on Stage 13. It is widely agreed that the Italian wields the most potent lead out in this race and has already clearly benefited from a team which almost guarantees him a good position when having to follow the likes of Greipel at full gas. Factoring in the likelihood of the weather and the final two kilometres of racing being technical, Modolo could dominate from a slightly slower sprint and win thanks to a solid lead out from his Lampre-Merida teammates.

An eternal nearly man at this race, Trek Factory Racing’s Giacomo Nizzolo could finally throw the form book out the window and secure his debut Giro d’Italia win at last. He appears to be one of the freshest sprinters in this race, despite his repeated efforts during the intermediate sprints, a fact which could see him brought right to the fore once again. Like Modolo, Nizzolo also performs better on these tricky finishes, but would have preferred an even more technical conclusion to this stage like his compatriot. Trek Factory Racing offer reasonable support to Nizzolo and are reliable when it comes to dropping him off in a good position with 750m remaing; though he has no issues with following wheels if need be. Ultimately, Giacomo Nizzolo is a real contender for this stage, a day which could be historic for the Italian finally breaking his duck at the Giro d’Italia.

Quite possibly the next fastest man after André Greipel is Team Sky’s Elia Viviani, but he has not demonstrated this well beyond his win on the opening sprinters’ stage. Though fast, he desperately lacks anything in the shape of a lead out, while also not really suiting this finale in the slightest. It is both technical and likely to be wet, with this in mind, Viviani’s chances of doubling up in Josolo are markedly reduced. Given his innate turn of speed, he will remain a danger, though a lot will need to go right for him, or wrong for the others in order to win.

Nicola Ruffoni has been working away very hard for his team in the sprints and is sure to be part of the top riders to decide the podium at the end of the day. The Italian youngster is incredibly fast, but does not have much in the way of teammates to protect his interests when it matters most. Bardiani-CSF rely on his ability to pick the best wheel ahead of him on his quest for a stage win and he certainly stands a chance on a finish which reshuffles the order of contenders considerably.

Though possessing a reasonable lead out at this race, Luka Mezgec simply has not performed to a standard now expected from the Slovenian sprinter. The Giant-Alpecin riders assigned to him in the sprints are not as well oiled under his leadership compared to that of John Degenkolb or Marcel Kittel, but they should still be helping their man chart higher in the sprints. Much like Viviani, Mezgec has plenty of pace to have a serious tilt at taking the win, but with little support and little having gone right so far, his chances remain less likely than those above.

Outcome:

With the lesson learnt from Stage 10, an agreement will surely be made between several teams during Stage 13 to ensure that any breakaway is given a very tight leash indeed. Lotto-Soudal, Trek Factory Racing, Lampre-Merida, Giant-Alpecin and even Bardiani-CSF will want to reel in those up the road and bring it back for a hectic finale in Jesolo. A reasonably technical finish which could be worsened by poor weather conditions makes it likely that André Greipel and Elia Viviani will not be able to decide the win with a simple enough drag race all the way to the line. Instead, those who possess a knack for these tricky run ins to the finish will come to the fore and use a short and sharp acceleration to secure the win. In this situation it could be a tale of two Italians with Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo both having a great chance to take their first ever Giro d’Italia stage wins here. Nizzolo has been in these positions before but still remains winless at his home tour and it looks to be Modolo who will prolong this nightmare once again. Lampre-Merida are stronger in the leadout and also appear fresher after several testing days as of late, assuming they ratchet up the speed in the final kilometre before letting Modolo attack the line, the winner in Jesolo could be clad in the neon tones of Lampre-Merida.

1st Sacha Modolo 2nd Giacomo Nizzolo 3rd Nicola Ruffoni

Make A Break For It – La Vuelta a España Stage 13 Preview

Stage 13 is a day for the opportunists, with no summit finishes for the red jersey hopefuls and far from any guarantee of a sprint finish, the breakaway could succeed today. Though the 188.7km route includes three categorised climbs, they do no appear tough enough to cause much panic in a well organised breakaway, but nor do they offer an advantage to attack upon as the final climbs finishes 37km shy of the finish in Obregón. Parque de Cabárceno.

 

Anyone with plans of an escape will be confident today.

Anyone with plans of an escape will be confident today.

Course:

Opening upon long stretches of flat road will be fertile ground for a hectic start as many riders try to get into the day’s break – their chances here could be the best of the entire race for an unexpected win. As mentioned of the climbs, they do not instil much fear into the rider’s legs when looking at what they have already overcome during this tour, gradual gradients will be manageable for any breakaway. The conclusion to the day however is a tricker affair with the final 5km veering from steep uphill ramps to sharp descents in a very short period of time, choosing the right time to attack here will win the stage for a canny breakaway rider.

A jagged conclusion for the victory to play out upon.

A jagged conclusion for the victory to play out upon.

Contenders:

Pot luck, Lottery, Hit & Hope – Call it whatever you like, a day which favours the break is always a difficult task to even estimate who may be in the final deciding group. A big indicator of what may happen will which teams lead the peloton in their pursuit of the escapees – if anyone does at all. Orica-GreenEDGE will happily sit on the front if they think it is realistic to pull everything together once more late on and set Michael Matthews up for another stage win. If they do so, BMC are likely to join the work rate as Philippe Gilbert looks an ideal candidate for the finish and has made no secret of his intention of a stage win here. Within BMC you can also consider Cadel Evans, who recently displayed his years of tactical nous when taking back to back stages at The Tour of Utah. Even more encouraging for Cadel is the face he also finished 6th on Stage 3’s similar finish won by Michael Matthews. Though the man who could really benefit should he be present in a break that has outfoxed the peloton is Peter Sagan, he has won races from similar positions when blitzing short, sharp Bergs and pushing it on the downhill sections to drive home an advantage. The finale does include ramps in excess of 10%, which top out around the 14% mark, it is here that any winning move must be attempted to avoid a bunch kick. In the unlikely situation that it does come back together late on, Giant-Shimano could feel confident of escorting John Degenkolb through the testing sections of the last 3km and putting him in a perfect position to take the win from a massively reduced bunch.

Outcome:

Possibly the hardest stage to predict at this year’s Vuelta a España due to the unpredictable nature of the breakaway and how the peloton will react in terms of chasing teams, if any. Should Peter Sagan smuggle himself into the breakaway and stay clear to the end, he could probably take the win. Though BMC do have the need to make their time here worthwhile beyond their backing of Samuel Sanchez in the general classification, so it would be no shock should Philippe Gilbert or even Cadel Evans takes the win here today.

Breakaway/Solo: Peter Sagan or Cadel Evans

Group: 1st Philippe Gilbert 2nd Michael Matthews 3rd John Degenkolb

 

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