A time trial to cement the overall classification. Primož Roglič has a good chance to leave his mark on the race with a stage win in the yellow jersey and Richie Porte’s got a shot, perhaps a long one, at hauling himself onto the podium.
Andersen’s fairy tale: a fast start and Rémi Cavagna went clear, several riders behind tried to bridge across but among them Guillaume Martin was the first to sit up, just outside the top-10 overall he was a burden on the move as other teams would chase just to neutralise his ambitions. But all the others folded to leave Cavagna out by himself for most of the stage. Once the race hit the final 50km in the Jura foothills things burst into action with an attack by Benoît Cosnefroy and Pierre Rolland. The winning break was Luke Rowe (Ineos), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale), Sam Bennett and Dries Devenyns (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Greg van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin (CCC Team), Jack Bauer and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott), Nikias Arndt and Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb). This was a tale of quality and quantity, strong riders and from multiple teams meaning few behind needed to chase. On the last climb of the day above Pont-de-la-Chaux Matteo Trentin attacked and this looked to tire all the riders, only for Søren Kragh Andersen to hit them over the top of the climb, just as he did in Lyon. Only this time there was 16km to go, it was longer range but mainly downhill and the Dane quickly built up a lead on the twisting roads while behind the group were in classic stand-off, nobody wanted to chase for fear of doing work that would enable a rival to win, plus Sagan, Bennett and Devenyns were marking each other. It’s SKA’s second stage win and Sunweb’s third. A mention of Sam Bennett: following Peter Sagan throughout the stage and beating him in the intermediate sprint and at the finish, it puts the seal on his green jersey bid, and dampens the effect of what Sagan did in that hectic sprint in Poitiers.
The Route: a course in three parts. A start in Lure, a small town but one of the largest in the area, the paradox explained that this is quiet, tranquil area and perhaps too much so for locals seeking job opportunities but today’s a festival, a yellow parade. First it’s fast and flat to the first time check. Second, a right turn onto a smaller road that climbs up with some 4-5% slopes at first but gentler after, it rises a bit, levels off, goes up a bit more and so on, it’s still rolling and fast, riders will be on their tri bars, the trick is getting the gearing and pacing right. Once past the Col de la Chevestraye the descent has a brief steeper part, a moment to recover with some tight bends before picking up the main road that drags up to the second time check in Plancher-les-Mines.
The final part is the now famous climb to the Planche des Belles Filles, 5.9km at 8.5% but really over 12% for most of the climb as there’s a “hidden” descent one quarter of the way in and there are 20% ramps to scale. Round the final corner and the last 300m are over 20% to the line.
The Contenders: who are the TT specialists who can cope with the final climb who have been sitting quiet in the final week to save themselves for today? Who indeed, there aren’t many lurking in the field. Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and Tejay van Garderen (EF Pro Cycling) don’t win TTs very often, TvG’s colleague Dani Martinez is the Colombian champ. Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quickstep) must be tired from his raid yesterday although he says he attacked because he’s feeling good but team mate Kasper Asgreen must still be the fresher pick and he climbs better. Bora-Hansgrohe have two good outsiders in Lennard Kämna and Max Schachmann. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Merida) could set fast times too but hard to see them winning. Look out for Harold Tejada (Astana), not to win but the 23 year old neo-pro is good in the time trials too.
Among the GC contenders Primož Roglič is the best pick, he won a string of time trials last year and the course suits with the mix of fast roads and climbing. He should pull ahead of Tadej Pogačar on the flat, with the UAE Emirates rider still likely to be well in the top-10 today. Yes Pogačar won the Slovenian title in June but that was all uphill. Jumbo-Visma have other options, Tom Dumoulin would be an obvious pick but has folded in to help Roglič as his form’s not so strong but this is his kind of stage, while Wout van Aert has to be a contender as well, look to see if he can set the fastest time to the second checkpoint and how much he can hold on up the climb.
Among the other GC contenders Richie Porte will really like this stage and is an outsider for the stage win and he’s got the carrot of the podium if he can reclaim 99 seconds on Miguel Angel Lopez, that’s a tough ask at almost 3 seconds per kilometre. The Colombian can blow hot and cold in the time trials but has improved in the last two years, is in form and thrives in the final week of a grand tour.
- Bike changes are permitted but there is no dedicated zone for mechanics to wait in, instead any change must be done via the team car and the commissaires will be watching for pushes longer than five seconds. It can make sense to change bikes, to ditch the TT bike with a heavier frame, heavier wheels, heavier bars but it’s also a bad look for bike sponsors, it’s broadcasting their TT bikes are slow uphill. It’s down to rider taste as well, when Tom Dumoulin won the TT Worlds in Bergen he didn’t swap bikes for the climb to Fløyen but plenty of others did and are likely to do it today, it’s a longer climb than Fløyen
- KoM: Carapaz leads the mountains competition with 74 points, ahead of Pogačar (72 points) and Roglič (67 points). The final climb is timed and the fastest six riders get 10-8-6-4-2-1 points respectively so Carapaz is likely to use the first 30km today as an extended warm-up to save himself for his fastest possible time up the climb. Can he do it? Probably, he’s excellent at a 20 minute effort but there’s a matrix of outcomes. If there’s a tie on points then Carapaz wins as he’s won two HC category climbs, the Madeleine and the Glières, to Pogačar’s Grand Colombier.
|Richie Porte, Wout van Aert
|Dumoulin, Martinez, Kämna, Asgreen, Schachmann
Weather: turning cloudy and a band of rain is due to pass over the course in the afternoon, a top temperature of 23°C.
TV: the show starts with lanterne rouge Roger Kluge off at 1.00pm CEST and riders go at 90 second intervals at first and then every two minutes for the last 75 riders. Roglič starts at 5.14pm and should finish around 6.00pm CEST.