Le coup de Jarez: cycling is a team sport and Jumbo-Visma provided a good reminder, sticking Tony Martin on the front of the bunch to keep the day’s breakaway in check. Just as he always does only this time he was helped by a series of mishaps among the lead five, Niccolò Bonifazio having a back spasm then Brian Van Moer and Quinten Hermans crashed and abandoned. On the final climb Tom Dumoulin and Primož Roglič chased down the attacks from Rigo Uran, Pierre Latour and Tiesj Benoot. With one kilometre to go the Dutch team had four riders on the front when rivals for the stage, like Julian Alaphilippe, could have done with a team mate or two to taxi them into position. Wout van Aert finished the job on the uphill slope into Saint-Christo-en-Jarez to hold off Daryl Impey and Egan Bernal. Note some outsiders for the GC lost time or sat up, like last year’s winner Tejay van Garderen, Marc Soler, Chris Froome and Dylan Teuns.
The Route: 135km east out of Vienne. The early part of the stage is gentle, maybe even one or two sunflower fields remain for photographers. The climb to Roybon bites but otherwise the first 90km are steady. After 91km the Côte Maillet, known locally as Le Montaud, is the northern stub of the Vercors massif. The race could have just followed the Isere river around but instead quits the valley floor to go over this steep climb – 6km at 8% – and down the narrow descent to soften up the field. Once off the climb there’s a long, wide road on the approach to the final climb.
The Finish: the Col de Porte? Yes but they only join the main road 2.5km from the finish, instead this climb is really the Col de Palaquit from Saint-Egrève, a back road that’s steep and irregular. For more details on it, see the dedicated Roads to Ride piece. The first part to the village of Quaix gives a taste with the steep section but it’s after the descent that the hard part comes with long ramps at double-digit gradients, the profile above says 9-10% for each kilometre but you’ll find 12% sections for 500 metres there. After the village of Sarcenas the road reaches the main road up to the Col de Porte and it’s a much gentler 5-6% to the finish, a chance to for the speed to pick up, here strong teams can reel in rivals or shelter their protected riders. The final ramp kicks up before a few metres of flat for the finish line.
The Contenders: Primož Roglič is the prime pick because he’s in form, he’s quick in a sprint and his Jumbo-Visma team have strength to control the race, just as they reeled in attacks yesterday they can contain things again today.
Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is next for obvious reasons and today’s the day to watch his team collectively as well and see how they ride today. For all the talk of team selection we’ll learn plenty today but are still looking from the outside in, having heart rate and power data will tell the team more than we can glean from just watching TV.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) comes next, his form seems good but this will be the first time we see him on a long mountain pass since the UAE Tour.
What about Richie Porte on the Col de Porte? He won’t ride up any quicker but is part of a second group of riders who could jump and profit if rivals hesitate. The problem right now is the time gaps are too close among the big names, the likes of Roglič and Bernal and their teams won’t want to see someone take 20 seconds, compounded the fact that some riders will think twice about a late attack for the stage win if it just puts them in the red and they’re dropped in the final kilometre. Still Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Merida), “Emu” Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) might look for the right moment. Finally Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has a chance if he can stay in contact with 2km to go.
|Egan Bernal, Tadej Pogačar
|Yates, Martin, Landa, Alaphilippe, Pinot, Quintana, Porte, Buchmann
Weather: sunshine and clouds, 30°C in the valley and a rising chance of a rain or a thunderstorm towards the finish
TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm Euro time. It should be available on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport.