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14 Jul 17 13:01
Date Joined: 11 Jul 11
| Topic/replies: 5,589 | Blogger: SwingingPick's blog
The distance: 101kms.

Nearly half of the stage will be downhill.

I have never seen a stage of this short distance at the GT level before, however I think it is possible to know what to expect. The 2016 Vuelta stage 15 was only 119kms long, and the closest distance in the Tour to this stage was in stage 20 of the 2015 edition, which was just 111kms long.

In terms of the amount of climbs, the Vuelta stage appears to be the most similar to this stage with three categorised ascents, however unlike the Vuelta stage which ended in a summit finish, this stage ends with a long descent into a power-descent into the finish, and also the climbs are much harder here than in the Vuelta stage. Nevertheless, in that stage Contador attacked early and formed a 14-man breakaway which included Quintana and caught-out Froome, his teammates scrambling somewhere in back. MOV realised SKY's problem and took advantage by keeping the pace high and isolating Froome from his team, even though Quintana had a teammate with him. Brambilla won from Quintana, and Quintana held a gap of about 2mins to the GC riders.

In the 2015 Tour stage a 4-man breakaway were allowed to go up the road with a gap of up to 8mins, and Pinot eventually went solo to win. A second group went on the main middle climb, but they were brought back by ALM. Again, like the Vuelta stage, this stage ended with a summit finish on Alpe d'Huez, though. Pinot held about a 1:30 gap to the GC riders.

What both stages have in common is the explosive nature of the racing and the substantial gap which can be held by a successful breakaway/attacking rider, and that is very-much what we should expect for this stage, too. This suggests that much like the attacks we see from the start of the stage by those riders looking to get into the day's breakaway, the GC riders are likely to attack each other from the very start of the stage as they look to find vulnerabilities (inattention and fatigue) in their rivals.

This is likely to be a hard stage in terms of a battle-of-attrition, especially amongst the GC men, but I think the descents and particularly the long descent to the finish will have a major influence on the tactics and strategy of the riders involved and therefore the outcome for both stage honours and GC movements.

With Aru in Yellow and essentially unable to defend the jersey with a strong team performance, and ALM signalling their intentions for the win in Paris with Bardet as far back as stage 9 but only getting the result they were seeking on yesterday's stage with Bardet's win, it can be the case that the way to understand the situation on GC (cheers bb66 for your inspiration) is that ALM will effectively ride like they are already in Yellow with Bardet, which will in a way inadvertently boost AST's hold on Yellow with Aru, at least against SKY. My analysis therefore suggests that it is like ALM and AST are in a situation where they have unintentionally united against SKY in an alliance, simply by sharing a common interest in the GC win and being within reach of it. They won't necessarily ride as one, but they will ride against the SKY and that is their common rival because of Froome's strength in the ITT, still to come on the penultimate stage and where Froome will have approximately 30-50secs on Bardet/Aru.     

ALM have shown they have the team to throw flooding numbers at the problem which is SKY, and as we saw they nearly pulled it off with Bardet on stage 9, when the talented FRA rider attacked Froome on the dodgy descent, extended along the flats to easily catch and pass Barguil in the lead, and just fail with 5kms remaining.

Finally, I think ALM have shown that they have what it takes to not only formulate and employ a grand stratagem against their chief rivals in SKY, but that they also have the riders to make it work. They will therefore be looking to launch Bardet off the summit of the final climb, the Mur de Peguere, since Bardet is an excellent descender and will find it easier to hold a race-winning gap along what then becomes a power-descent. To do that, and fitting with the aggressive nature to the start of the race we are likely to witness, I would expect ALM to throw large number into/at the breakaway whilst committing Bardet to sit in and around Froome's wheel. In addition, this stage comes at a perfect time for Aru, and I think that whilst he is being discounted in both the market and with the Books (25/1 SP out to 33/1 and 50s on here) there is no valid reason why he should be seen as inferior. Yes, he has a weak team in comparison to his two main rivals, however Aru is climbing beautifully, can descend very well and has an equal chance to win this stage to Bardet.

In conclusion; unless a really hard rider like Cummings can go out with a committed effort from the break, (Cummings won't because he'll still be recovering from yesterday's stage) and I mean burying himself with some 75kms remaining of the stage, then I think the more likely outcome is fisticuffs from the GC men from the outset and them fighting for the stage win and positions on the GC. I don't think we will get two races, this stage is too short and much too-hyped to expect that the status-quo will ensue and the peloton will sit back by allowing the break a big gap. Plus, the weakness of AST will be seen as a vulnerability worthy of being exploited by multiple attacks from their rivals, and that will have to happen early, and that is consistent with these short stages as those mentioned above.

Having said all that, I think Calmejane (25/2 SP into 20/1) and Benoot (11/1 SP into 14/1) will both be salivating over another opportunity over a stage they would ordinarily consume over morning training, so am looking to keep those two riders safe, but I cannot go past the value of Aru, and another strong ride by Bardet.
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Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip July 14, 2017 1:22 PM BST
Nice write up. I was thinking of AST and ALM not exactly working together but certainly both being united in wanting to ditch SKY as much as possible. The position theyll want SKY in is for them to be worried about doing Astanas job for them but also worried about 3 ALM guys up the road waiting to guide Bardet home.
Will SKY just stomp out any breakaways that ALM are involved in or will they put their own in the breakaway and risk Froome being isolated later?
Report bb66 July 14, 2017 1:38 PM BST
Henao is SKY'a man for the break, while Landa or Nieve can attack from the leaders group to pull away Froome when he attacks.
Report bb66 July 14, 2017 2:14 PM BST
Can't see any AST near the front of the bunchLaugh
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:27 PM BST
ALM haven't even covered Kwiatkowski satellite for Froome...
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:33 PM BST
...They must suspect it's all a bit early for that sort of thing,
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:38 PM BST
Groups all over the road...
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:40 PM BST
Haven't seen much of the front of the main group, but what we know is that the pace is very high, Gilbert and Chavanel are strong riders and have gone off the back of De Marchi who is going hard and is a noted breakway specialist, and yet he hardly has a gap.
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip July 14, 2017 2:41 PM BST
ALM will probably move gradually on the descents wont they?

No point burning them doing astana/sky job of dragging GC riders to the break. Landa is a red herring anyway.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:45 PM BST
ALM have just blinked first -- controlling the front of the race when it's not their duty.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:47 PM BST
Landa is marking Bertie.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:50 PM BST
ALM now have Vuillermoz covering the earlier move of SKY with Kwiatkowski.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:54 PM BST
If Bertie begins to falter and he should because his shape is poor, I think Landa would be very keen to attack and win. Looked very comfortable yesterday and looks very fresh today, also, whilst not having to do any work.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 2:55 PM BST
Land's price has just fell out the bottom -- people having the same thoughts, evidently...
Report padlock July 14, 2017 3:00 PM BST
Will the bigboys not catch these on desent downhill?
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:01 PM BST
How do you reform harmony in your team, if your team is SKY?

You give Landa opportunities.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:03 PM BST
Not really right now, the riders on the fron the of main group are losing time to these two leaders, and now Landa is getting orders to work with Bertie -- this break looks dangerous but when I say that I mean Landa.
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip July 14, 2017 3:03 PM BST
I can see the point of Sky countering the multi-pronged GC attack by creating their own multi pronged GC attack but Dont see Landa holding out on the descents
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:05 PM BST
But they are making such good time climbing -- descending never provides such good time.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:08 PM BST
Oh, I think I know what you mean -- the power descent into the finish will bring back time on only one or two riders -- that's true. So Kwiatkowski becomes a dangerous proposition, but it's too far out for him on account of the amount of climbing remaining.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:09 PM BST
Landa only 36secs off VL on the road.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:16 PM BST
For instance, Kwiatkkowski is an expert descender, one of the best in the peloton, and he could make it across to the leaders, but if he does that he risks bringing Quintana across. That may change into the finale, but for now SKY are the only team making their moves work a treat.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:20 PM BST
Well actually Kwiatkowski had a little tester there...
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip July 14, 2017 3:21 PM BST
You have to hand it to sky on GC strategy today. Instead of Froome worrying about whether to chase ALM or mark Aru, bardet, Aru and Uran now have to worry about whether to chase Landa or mark Froome!

I would be giving Landa most rope out of those two options but it gets difficult at what 3 or 3.30 mins?
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:23 PM BST
If SKY can have two riders in the top-3 on GC -- GAME OVER!
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:29 PM BST
Last climb of the day, already. Break looks good. Kwiatkowski a big danger, 7s as a request is decent value, I believe.
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip July 14, 2017 3:31 PM BST
Aru will have to attack big on this climb
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:34 PM BST
And bring Froome across to Kwiatkowski and potentially Landa -- I don't think so. Aru is losing the Tour without knowing it, apparently. Landa is moving up, and SKY will become too strong.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:37 PM BST
Quintana not making in-roads on Land and Bertie means less chance of Kwiatkowski attack working -- project 7s not likely under this situation.
Report bb66 July 14, 2017 3:38 PM BST
I thoughgt Aru might buy in Bahrain, but not UAESurprised
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip July 14, 2017 3:41 PM BST
Someone has to wrestle the initiative back off sky. Aru knows Bardet wont do it until near the top. Arus best gains are going for it on his own i reckon, he cab break free of froome if he wants.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:44 PM BST
Two races on the road -- that's true -- but it's between Bertie and Landa for the stage win.
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 3:49 PM BST
is Landa now the Designated hitter for team Sky?
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:50 PM BST
I don't know that, but SKY become all-powerful with two in the top-3, potentially.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:54 PM BST
Didn't think these two chasers would bridge...
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:56 PM BST
Landa won't be told to sit and wait for Froome as Froome did not leave Aru behind.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 3:59 PM BST
Barguil the fastest in a sprint, but the worst result for me.
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:03 PM BST
Just didn't see him making it across and didn't bother with insurance...
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:05 PM BST
That gap was just locked-in on about 35-40secs and Landa and Bertie should hold them off -- suddnely they're back! Arghh...
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 4:05 PM BST
backed barguil & uran
laid off barguil @2.5
bit prematurely  maybe
but a little green on all now
could yet be an exciting finish
if the maillot jaune grp
start making inroads
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:09 PM BST
You laid him off to me then, but still a loss on Barguil.
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 4:13 PM BST
uran much bigger winner but he's left his effort too late
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:17 PM BST
No giving up hope on Landa for the win.
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 4:20 PM BST
i thought Landa looked very comfortable leading out Froome y'day
had he been left to his own devices
must surely have gone close to nicking that stage
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:21 PM BST
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:24 PM BST
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 4:25 PM BST
funny isn't it how some guys can sprint
and others can't
boy done good
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:25 PM BST
Well, first loss for the race, only took 13 stages -- unlucky 13. Cry
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:27 PM BST
Could have covered him, but short odds don't interest me when it's so speculative. Reverse it tomorrow, hopefully, only one stage in the race numbered 13.
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 4:32 PM BST
u know ur stuff SP
Report SwingingPick July 14, 2017 4:39 PM BST
Took my eye off the ball today though, I wasn't monitoring the gap to Barguil and didn't respect his climbing even though he put the writing on the wall on stage 9 when just not handling that little rise after the descent when Bardet closed on him, however if Kwaitkowski was dropped from that Barguil group after doing no work it should have suggested that Barguil, who was behind Quintana doing most of the work, was going on with a fair pace.
Report johnnythebull July 14, 2017 4:48 PM BST
for me these Grand Tours have way too much team tactics
Froome..yeah,he's a good rider but in the best team with super domestiques
who do 99% of the work for him
and only has to assert himself in the ITTs
a m8 i grew up with loves boxing and cycling
and swears nobody holds a candle to Eddy Merckx
Report casemoney July 14, 2017 5:28 PM BST
A deserved win For warren  ,And Nairo  a Tremendous Ride now 2 minutes off the Pace Plain

Could be very Squeaky Bum Time if he Took off  in the alps for those who laid 1000     1000            £109  Laugh
Report Hushwing. July 15, 2017 12:02 PM BST
Froome isn't a team player whatever you say. Landa wouldve now been in yellow if that was the case
Report SwingingPick July 15, 2017 1:22 PM BST
Bull, for me team tactics is what makes GTs so interesting, amongst other things.
If you go back to 2012 and Froome was a domestique when he was arguably riding better than designated principal Wiggins, so no one was working for him when he was jumping out of his skin to attack and win. Froome is obviously not a Worlds-quality TT rider, but the best GT winners are exceptional in the ITT discipline, so that is how it should be. I mean, a GT winner should be a complete rider and whilst he is a strong TT rider he is a brilliant climber, and has now added expert descender to his arsenal of weapons. I don't think it's possible to compare riders from different eras, but The Cannibal got his moniker for a reason.
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