Stage 19 Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne / La Toussuire – Les Sybelles
Course overview: Day three in the Alps and it’s another day of hard climbing on the 138km route to La Toussuire. From the start it’s a 6.3% gradient climb at over 15km on the category 1 Col du Chaussy. There’s some respite with a long descent and 25km on the flat before the hors categorie Col de la Croix de Fer. This is followed by a category 2 climb then a 19km category 1 climb to the finish at La Toussuire. The intermediate sprint is at Epierre (42km).
Riders course will suit: At 138km this course is one of the shorter ones but the huge climbs are ideal for the pure climbers. There is a chance of a breakaway succeeding provided they don’t get caught on the descents.
Nairo Quintana $3.75
The young Columbian rider still sits 3 minutes 10 seconds behind leader Chris Froome. There’s only today and tomorrow to try and claw back some time. Expect some fireworks between the two and the big climbs should suit Nairo Quintana for a stage victory.
Chris Froome $4.00
Chris Froome holds a relatively comfortable lead but as we’ve seen in recent days he hasn’t been prepared to concede even just one second to Quintana. Froome appears to have Quintana’s measure and if he’s put under pressure he’ll respond and might just a pick up another stage win.
Alberto Contador $15.00
There’s been a question mark over the form of Alberto Contador after his win at the Giro d’Italia. We’ve seen some responses in the Alps but this is not the same rider we saw at the Giro. Still he can thrive on the tough climbs and this course should suit him well.
Pierre Rolland $15.00
Pierre Rolland had a terrific day in yesterday’s stage finishing second behind countryman Romain Bardet to make it a one two French finish. How well he’s recovered is a big question but if he gets into the breakaway he’ll be going for another stage victory for France.
Vincenzo Nibali $21.00
The reigning Tour champion had a lacklustre start to the Tour and didn’t perform as well in the Pyrenees as expected. He’s improved in the final week and if he utilises the long descents in a breakaway he may just salvage a stage win.
Romain Bardet $21.00
The young Frenchman put on a masterful display of riding in yesterday’s stage to earn him the win. He’s currently tied with Joaquim Rodriguez in the polka dot jersey competition so he’ll have that extra incentive to perform on the climbs. He’s very good on a technical descent and if he gets into the breakaway he might just be able to make it two stages in a row.
Impact on overall race:
Chris Froome starts yet another day in yellow and of all the general classification contenders Nairo Quintana is his only real threat. Froome still could lose yellow if he crashes or just has a bad day and Quintana will be throwing everything at him. That said the Tour winner of 2013 looks like he’ll be standing at the top of the podium in Paris on Sunday.
The green jersey is safely on the shoulders of Peter Sagan but the fight for the polka dot jersey is very much alive with Joaquim Rodriguez and Romain Bardet both on 68 points.
Stage 18 Winner: Nairo Quintana ($3.75)
Romain Bardet v Pierre Rolland: Bardet ($1.95)
Nairo Quintana v Chris Froome: Quintana ($1.77)
Andrew Talansky v Serge Pauwels: Talansky ($1.62)