Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany – Revel
197km – Suited to breakaway, puncheurs & sprinters
The peloton will have relished yesterday’s rest day after what was a brutal day in the mountains of Andorra on Stage 9. The day started in 40° heat and finished on the Arcalis in heavy rain & hail as Tom Dumoulin soloed to victory to record his first Tour win.
The stage started in promising fashion for The Wolf, however once Valverde sat up in the break, Team Sky stopped chasing and allowed the breakaway to succeed. This meant that Froome, Porte & Valverde were never going to win the stage. Both Dumoulin & Costa have been tipped on previous stages but it’s always the way that as soon as you don’t back them, they go and win! It was fantastic ride by Dumoulin and confirmed that he is one of the biggest talents in the race.
In terms of the GC, we now know that the 4 strongest riders in the race are clearly Froome, Quintana, Porte & Martin. We should see a quiet couple of days for the main contenders, until the Alps come into view and the riders face the legendary Mont Ventoux. Both Froome & Quintana will be happy with both their positions and their form after the testing Pyrenees section and will go into the Alps expecting some heavy attacks on the race.
Froome now leads the race from Adam Yates (16secs), Dan Martin (19secs) & Nairo Quintana (23secs). These gaps are not yet decisive and Froome will have to be wary of his competition leading into the Alps. For Quintana, he couldn’t have asked to be in a better position up to this point. He is constantly glued to Froome’s wheel, letting Team Sky do all the hard work. If it wasn’t for his mistake on Stage 8, allowing Froome to put 13 secons into him, he’d be sitting 2nd overall. Exoect fireworks in the Alps as Quintana will do everything he can to try and break Froome.
Coming off the back of the rest day, the riders would have hoped for a nice flat stage to get the legs going again. Race organisers have ruined that though with a Category 1 climb coming right from the gun of Stage 10. This will see a large breakaway group form and should break the peloton into small groups based on ability. Once over the climb, however, the sprint teams will be doing everything they can to chase down any breakaway as the number of stages that sprinters can win is getting increasingly smaller. The Wolf expects the breakaway to open up a pretty decent time gap as any chase will have to wait until all the sprinters are over the first climb. It’s doubtful that the break will be allowed to get to the finish line though as Sagan, Matthews, Coquard & Kristoff will be targeting the stage for victory and the speed of the race should be very fast.
Once over the first climb, the parcours is relatively flat up until a decent category 3 climb, 7km from the finish. This throws a slight spanner in the works for the likes of Kittel, Cavendish & Greipel as they might not be strong enough to keep pace with some of the puncheurs.
With Contador abandoning the race, the Tinkoff team will now set their sights on stage wins. The parcours of this stage suits Sagan and he deserves to be favourite for the win. The Wolf thinks he is at shorts odds however, given that he has numerous 2nd place finishes on this type of route. His direct competition has become used to his tactics and have found ways to counteract his talents by launching late attacks over him. He has a huge chance to win the stage but he is definitely beatable.
Although the flat finish doesn’t suit the Frenchman, he should be able to put himself into a position for the win on the final climb. He has been dropped early on the all the big climbs to this point so should have fresh legs coming into this stage. He was a whisker away from the win on stage 4 and he will be targeting today for his first win in the race.
The Orica BikeExchange team are having an excellent race, with Adam Yates sitting pretty in 2nd place overall. They are yet to win a stage though and will be targeting today as the parcours suits Matthews well. He’ll be relying on his team to set a fast pace and he’ll need to be at his very best as the power sprint finish doesn’t suit him but he has a chance if the group has been split on the final climb.
The 29 year old Norwegian has had a quiet race so far but The Wolf is expecting him to come to life today. Traditionally he tends to get better as the race goes on and the stage suits him as it’ll be a fast pace. The first climb will be a big challenge but if he survives, he has the ability to get over the final climb well and push for the stage win at good odds.
The Wolf likes what he sees from Cav this year. His change in training regime is not helping him in the mountains but he should relish the flat after the initial climb. He’ll need a bit of help getting over the final climb but if he is there towards the end, he’ll be hard to beat in the sprint finish.
In his peak, the German would have been one of the favourites for the stage win here. His horrific training crash back in May, where he nearly lost a finger, leaves question marks over his form, however his team wouldn’t have entered him into the race if they didn’t think he could be competitive. He is at big odds here and The Wolf thinks he could spring a surprise.
Best Bet – Coquard @ $12
Both Majka & Pinot are very short at $2.20 & $2.75 respectively and don’t represent much value given that a summit win by any of their rivals could easily wipe out any advantage that they currently hold. Pierre Rolland represents value at $41.