Once beyond the intermediate sprint, I wouldn’t be surprised if a breakaway clipped off after the heavier fastmen eased up, before the stage really lights up. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) will be keen non adding some more points to his account in the mountains classification, but does he have the legs to take him all the way to the final climb? The 33-year-old has been very lively over the past few stages, and is not quite at the level of the real big hitters, and so I think once Rolland goes over the col de la Madeleine, his day will most likely be done.
Don’t be surprised if EF Pro Cycling put two or three riders — Hugh Carthy, Daniel Martínez and Neilson Powless — in the break, while Mitchelton-Scott may fancy their chances with Esteban Chaves or Mikel Nieve. Ineos Grenadiers, surely, will also get involved? That said, there will be an awful lot of other that will ‘ fancy their chances’, but will they be able to get into the breakaway should one form and if so, will the have the legs to finish it of on the final climb of the day?
So, will today’s stage be won by a breakaway rider? If so they will need a decent lead by the time it reaches the bottom of the final climb of the day. The final kilometres of the col de la Loze will be contested on what has been described as a cycle path and so it is very narrow, meaning positioning will be absolutely key. Get stuck behind somebody who has a mechanical or a crash and that’s it, your Tour de France hopes could be over. Also, the gradients are insanely steep. Very un-Tour de France like, with pitches reaching 24% in places and long stretches at over 11% this really is terrain for those with an explosive edge. Someone like Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). Anyway, enough of this idle speculation, racing starts in 10 minutes.