Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

Last chance saloon. Crunch time. The final push. Whatever you want to call it, this is one of the few remaining opportunities to genuinely have an impact upon the general classification before the individual time trial. Featuring Col d’AspinCol du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque within the day’s six total ascents, we can expect serious fireworks if one of the big name contenders chooses to light the touchpaper.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 19 Race Preview

Contenders

Primož Roglič will be aware that a strong performance today will set him up well for an incredible podium finish when the race reaches Paris. Strong in the time trial as well, a late attack could create a sufficient cushion from his rivals tomorrow and secure a stunning result for the former ski jumper.

Dan Martin has really been enjoying some brilliant form at this year’s race and shall fancy his chances of turning in another eye catching show on this epic stage. With a team strong enough to set him up for the stage win, the Irishman has a great chance of victory today.

Romain Bardet would need to muster something spectacular if he is to cause a stir today, as his showing at 2018’s Tour de France has been a disappointing affair. However, if he is to find glory with one perfect day of riding, then today is certainly that opportunity. An HC climb and tricky descent to end the day, Bardet could still salvage something from his home tour.

Nairo Quintana can still rise up the general classification today, though will struggle to find the same level of freedom which he possessed last week when takeing a stage win. Regardless, even though the Colombian has entered into great form late in the race, he could still cause a degree of panic amongst the leading contenders.

Others to consider are Adam YatesBauke MollemaMikel Nieve and Rafal Majka.

Outcome:

1st Dan Martin 2nd Romain Bardet 3rd Adam Yates

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La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-19

La Vuelta a España – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

This year’s La Vuelta a España is running out of opportunities for the teams and their riders to strike it lucky with a win and Stage 19 will no doubt instigate a frantic start as most of the peloton attempt to make their way into the day’s breakaway. Around 90km of ever so slightly rising roads will make it difficult for a move to establish itself once the bunch are on the road, but expect the size of the eventual group to be large, perhaps between 15 – 25 riders as team’s attempt to make their presence here worthwhile.

Medina del Campo will host the riders’ departure point for Stage 19 and set them on their way to the 186.8km journey to the day’s finish in Ávila. Building steadily from the off, it will not be until the 92km marker where the bunch will finally face a significant feature of the day’s profile; the Category 3 Alto de Valdelavía. A simple enough ascent which lasts 13km and averages out with a gradient of 2.7%, it will fail to impact upon the day’s outcome. From the summit, the bunch will drop down into the valley via a gradual descent, before beginning to climb yet again 35km from the finish in Ávila. 

Once the intermediate sprint is tackled by 158km, the day’s concluding descent begins immediately, maxing out just shy of 20km from home. The climb of Alto de la Paramera is a total of 8.7km and averages a manageable gradient of 4.5%, an ascent which could act as a springboard for those in the breakaway who will reach this climb first. Though there is still everything to play for in regards to the Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru dynamic, it seems more likely both shall keep their powder dry ahead of what is bound to be the more pivotal Stage 20. This means the escapees should be allowed to maintain their advantage into Ávila, where an uphill finish and cobble roads are set to make this conclusion just a little tougher still.

 

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-19

Contenders:

Alejandro Valverde will be the favourite to win if the breakaway capitulates late on in the day, the Spanish rider suiting this finale well and will certainly jump on the chance to add to his stage haul at this year’s La Vuelta a España. A man who performs well at the Ardennes and possesses a potent turn of pace, it is easy to see him dominating on the cobbled climb which precedes the finish.

Giovanni Visconti was a well backed rider to find success in yesterday’s breakaway, but sadly he struggled to identity the right move and consequently spent the day back in the bunch. Movistar will lean upon him once again today and request he does his utmost to make the cut on this occasion. With a limited amount of climbing and a finish which should favour those with a fair sprint capability, Visconti suits the requirements of Stage 19 well.

Stephen Cummings is still riding strong at the tail-end of this grand tour and he should be watched in the formative moments of the race as the breakaway attempts to establish its composition. Though absent from the previous day’s moves, Cummings will be the best card to play for MTN-Qhubeka and should be considered a danger man on a day which favours the breakaway’s chances of staying away to the line.

Alessandro De Marchi is another such breakaway specialist who has ridden impressively throughout La Vuelta, securing himself a stage win along the way. Today is perhaps not as tough as the terrain which usually draws the Italian out into a successful move, but at this point in the race it comes down more to condition than simply relevant talents; making him an ideal confederate to have amongst the break’s ranks.

Simon Gerrans was highlighted to make himself known on yesterday’s stage as a way of testing his condition ahead of this year’s World Championship Road Race, but this failed to materialise. Stage 19 is the last opportunity he will have to attempt such an exercise and the finale does suit the Australian quite well. The amount of climbing is unlikely to prove problematic for Gerrans, and with the cobbled hill coming a little way before the line, he could definitely challenge for the win.

Geraint Thomas might be tasked with getting into the day’s move, Sky no doubt eager to capitalise once again in the breakaway and avoid having to commit anything to the chase beyond protecting Mikel Nieve’s general classification position. Given their success yesterday however, they might be content with calling it quits at this year’s Vuelta and enter Madrid feeling a little fresher. The Welshman enjoyed an impressive Spring campaign this season and it is easy to see today’s late mixture of ‘hellingen’ and cobbles catching his eye.

José Joaquín Rojas could well feel a bit cooked after his exploits in the previous day’s breakaway, but he has ridden very strongly throughout the race and it is hard to see him call it a day with Stage 19 being such a good fit for him. Rojas will be a tough adversary amongst any group which contests the finale, and with the added drag to the line, it all adds up to a very enticing stage for the Spaniard.

Adam Hansen will be a man fancied to feature today, his reputation for a long breakaway preceding him, while the Australian is also known for utilising his brute strength to power through these final days of a grand tour. Of course, like Rojas, he did work hard on the previous stage and could decide that his hopes of another stage win at La Vuelta a España will have to wait until next year’s edition.

Julien Simon might choose to have one last attempt at picking up a stage win for his team Cofidis at 2015’s La Vuelta during today. The Frenchman has already taken three top ten placings, including a runner up spot on Stage 13 behind Nelson Oliveira and may emerge once again at the final time of asking. The uphill sections into the finish should not discourage him either, factoring in his sprinting ability, Simon actually suits today well if he can join the right move.

Rinaldo NocentiniNelson OliveiraTosh Van Der Sande and Moreno Moser all warrant a passing mention as those who could bolster the ranks of a decisive breakaway.

The ongoing Tom Dumoulin versus Fabio Aru battle also deserves a few words here, as it is possible that we may witness more activity than we expect between the two on Stage 19. The climbs do not really suit Aru, and given their nature, Dumoulin should not struggle to pace his way up them with the Italian safely in sight. However, the finale which includes a cobbled climb and rising roads in the last 2km, could prove advantageous for Dumoulin to actually take more time from Aru. The Dutchman performs strongly on these short, sharp climbs and could certainly put down the power in order to add a couple of seconds to his current lead.

Outcome:

1st Giovanni Visconti 2nd Adam Hansen 3rd Geraint Thomas

Outsider: Alejandro Valverde

Le Tour de France – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

As expected, yesterday saw little action from the riders currently seated at the top of the general classification, but fireworks are certain to be ignited on today’s unique stage; tailor-made for combative riding. The final two days in the mountains at this year’s Tour de France are unique for their short distances and large amount of testing climbing squeezed into such a limited period of racing. This type of stage structure is meant to instigate fighting amongst the favourites throughout the day, as the need to stay fresh is minimised by the lesser total distance, aiming for a battle royale to decide the maillot jaune’s owner come the podium in Paris.

Despite Chris Froome currently leading the race by more than three minutes, he and Team Sky are sure to be unsettled by the prospect of a day which will encourage his rivals to lay everything down ahead of tomorrow’s ride to Alpe d’Huez. Beginning in yesterday’s finish of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, the riders will only have to cover 138km to the finish of La Toussuire; a journey encompassing a HC climb, two Category 1 climbs and one Category 2 ascent. As soon as the peloton begin rolling out from the day’s start, it is immediately an upwards gradient which faces them, opening with the 15.4km long Categroy 1 Col du Chaussy (avg 6.3%).

A familiarly Alpine technical descent then follows down from the summit, lasting 15km and placing the riders back on level ground for 25km, this includes the relatively easy intermediate sprint after 42km. By around 60km worth of riding, the peloton will have the realisation that not a single passage of flat road now remains from here to the finish atop La Toussuire. The bulk amount of climbing starting as they begin ascending the HC Category Col de la Croix de Fer, a brutal challenge lasting 22.4km which averages a deceptive 6.9% gradient. Misleading, as it fails to hint at the 8km run of 9% – 10% gradients which begin after approximately 12km of climbing have already been tackled by the riders. It eases near the top, but the damage will have already been inflicted by this point, offering us an insight as to who looks strong and which favourites appears isolated already.

Off the Col de la Croix de Fer comes another technical descent, but one which interrupted by the day’s sole Category 2 climb, the Col du Mollard. Lasting for only 5.7km and averaging a 6.8% gradient, it is situated here to upset the rhythm and interrupt the possibility of ample recover as they drop back down into the valley ahead of the day’s final climb. From the top of the Col du Mollard, only 35km remain to decide the outcome of this crucial Stage 19 battle for the yellow jersey; nearly half of which is yet more descending.

The 119km marker signals the start of the climb to the line, the Category 1 La Toussuire placed to act as the backdrop to a fierce battle between the general classification frontrunners. A total of 18km hauls the riders up to the ski resort atop the climb, averaging 6.1% from bottom to top and is not immensely difficult once the harder opening 4km (6% – 9%) have been completed. However, in context of what has preceded it on the day, it is sure to see many riders crack under the mounting fatigue of an intensely explosive race to La Toussuire; even with an easing finale few kilometres at the top.

 

 

Le-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-19-Preview-

 

Contenders:

Movistar have to roll the dice here, as waiting until tomorrow’s ascent of Alpe d’Huez is unlikely to inflict big enough damage to see Chris Froome lose his lead on one climb. They currently have two riders sitting second and third on the general classification, but this is a curse as much as it is a blessing for the Spanish team. Though with Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde a potent pairing to disrupt Chris Froome’s lead, those within the team will have qualms about investing too heavily in attacking Froome and seeing Valverde crack as a consequence with a strong Geraint Thomas poised to swoop onto the podium late into this Tour de France. Tactical headaches are plentiful throughout the peloton on a day which could see as much chasing from those attempting to cement top ten placings, as much as the battle for the maillot jaune itself, though Movistar are sure to have the hardest time deciding their strategy out of everyone on Stage 19.

Having attacked Chris Froome in small doses thus far, many are expecting Nairo Quintana to give Stage 19 both barrels and put everything down on the ride to La Toussuire in an attempt to finally break Froome’s stranglehold upon the yellow jersey. The Colombian is clearly in great form and there is a feeling that we have not really seen him attack with a 100% intent so far, marking him out as the biggest threat to the current yellow jersey owner. Quintana may wait until the final climb to attack hard, but will need to make the most of the tougher gradients, as the easing summit will only go to favour the faster finishing Chris Froome on such inclines. There is a chance that the Movistar leader might even attempt to attack long range, laying down a marker on the Col de la Croix de Fer in an attempt to find allies in Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador to really force Team Sky into a tactical nightmare.

On recent evidence, Chris Froome is the best climber at this race so far, but he is notorious for ailing somewhat as a Grand Tour approaches its final days in the mountains. Not only this, but his team has not been firing on all cylinders as of late, with Geraint Thomas often the only man left to protect him late on in the race. Today’s ascents do not suit Froome as well as they do his rivals, making it likely he will ship some time if he is not on the wheel of Nairo Quintana in the final 5km to La Toussuire. However, if he is still in touch with his rivals as they duck under the 5km to go banner, he will be the favourite to win the stage on a softer gradient which allows him to spin up to speed and beat those around him.

Movistar will be eager to cement Alejandro Valverde‘s position on the podium after yesterday’s stage saw him wobble and display the first significant signs of the 35 year old Spanish Champion cracking. Their worries will be justified as the long and grinding ascents of Stage 19 will not favour Valverde at all, possibly tipping him over the brink and conceding his podium place with only Alpe d’Huez available to save it. Valverde could try to anticipate this and join an early breakaway to cushion him to the battle behind, he is a talented descender and could lean on this to establish a lead; even if this fails he will act as a stepping stone for Quintana should his teammate catch him. If the tempo or fighting is not as intense as expected, possibly due to torrential downpours during the day, then Valverde has a chance of being in the lead group approaching La Toussuire where he would be favourite to win any such sprint for the line.

Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali enter the day with the need to save their race after disappointing showings which scuppered their chances before the real battle and even been ignited. The former could be tempted to launch a long-range attack off the Col de la Croix de Fer, something which he has utilised before in such situations in an attempt to recoup his losses late in a Grand Tour. The Italian Nibali is able to employ exactly the same attack, knowing he will be allowed to join a breakaway group given his current placing and is strong on a day consisting of so much descending; though his climbing form has not been consistent.

The battle for the Polka Dot Jersey is now the most hotly contested battle at this year’s Tour de France, a factor which should lure Joaquim RodrigeuzRomain BardetRafa Majka and Jakub Fuglsang into a level of action as the biggest names present in the fight for that competition. In a breakaway, the likes of Pierre RollandRigoberto UranDan MartinSteven Kruijswijk and Thibaut Pinot are just some of the strongest riders left to drive a break right the way to the line.

Outcome:

Such a short stage is bound to instigate an intense and widespread battle to gain a foothold in the day’s breakaway, of which could comprise a large array of riders including those desperate to save their general classification places such as Alejandro Valverde or Alberto Contador. Regardless, the big showdown should be between Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome, but where that fight shall occur could vary considerably. The Colombian is the favourite to win here, but if he has not shifted Froome ahead of the final kilometres to La Toussuire, then the Sky captain as a strong chance of taking another summit victory.

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

A Roll To Bergerac – Le Tour Stage 19

After the Pyrenean onslaught thrown at the riders over the last three days since Carcassonne, tomorrow’s rolling topography will ease the legs somewhat in comparison. Yet it is still an almost 210km trip tomorrow from Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour to Bergerac, so to consider this an easy day would be foolish given the scarcity of an “easy day” during any edition of Le Tour de France.

With all jerseys now settled, and the three way battle for the two remaining podium spots put on ice until the individual time trial, tomorrow offers itself up to the freshest sprinters instead. 

Simple?

Simple?

Despite the rolling nature throughout, and a Cat 4 climb with just over 10km left, stage 19 is positively flat; yet an obligatory breakaway will do their best to make life difficult for the sprint teams as it comes to chasing them down. Should such a breakaway still be away as they top Côte de Monbazilla, their hopes will remain slim as the consequential descent will lend perfectly to any chasing sprint teams.

The Contenders:

Marcel Kittel and most of the other sprint trains were last over the line on Stage 17 and certainly did not look able to overturn the tiredness in time for today. John Degenkolb could be the wiser bet for the day’s finish when looking at Giant-Shimano, especially as Kittel is likely to already have one eye firmly locked on the Champs Élysées finale. 

Andre Greipel is an unknown quantity in regards to his fitness since completing the last mountain run; though he was 4th on Stage 15 and could benefit again from a more disorganised sprint.

Bryan Coquard and Kévin Reza had a bizarre excursion into the breakaway yesterday which seems a surprising use of their energy given the favourable terrain today. Despite being one of the most consistent sprinters this year (including intermediates) Coquard is still bereft of a stage win and stage 19 is his last chance realistically.

No doubt Alexander Kristoff, Mark Renshaw, Romain Feillu and Samuel Dumoulin will be bobbing around in the top 10 in some order or another, but other than Kirstoff it is difficulty to see any of them springing a surprise upon tomorrow’s favourite.

The day’s winner will come in the form of Peter Sagan. To state that he is maintained a suffocating stranglehold upon the Green Jersey competition would do Sagan a disservice, the man has been ruthless once again this year. However, he still finds himself lacking the crowning glory to this Green Jersey campaign; the elusive stage win. Sagan never fails to maintain a presence in the top 5 finishers it seems and tomorrow would appear to lend itself to him in one of two ways. First of all, the pure sprinters will definitely be more concerned with staying fresh after the Pyrenees for the Champs Élysées on Sunday, hopefully diminishing their dedication to contest today’s stage. The second way in which Sagan may find himself benefited is the Cat 4 climb; we know how aggressive he can be when he sees an opportunity to ‘get one over’ on the peloton and that could be found in attacking on the descent from Côte de Monbazillac with around 10km left, dropping like a stone in the most comically aero position he can muster. Whichever the method, Peter Sagan will be eager to add a broad grin to his guaranteed Green Jersey and will surely throw everything at tomorrow in order to be smiling on more than just the Sprinter’s podium at the end of Stage 19.