Stage 8: Doles – Sation des Rousses
187.5km – Suited to a breakaway and climbers
After 213.5km of racin, 1st & 2nd were separated by a grand total of 6mm, or 0.0003 seconds, as Marcel Kittel snatched his 3rd win of the Tour from Boasson Hagen, moving him into the Green Jersey as a result. Again Wolf followers collected as Kittel was the best bet. There was nothing else of note on the stage, other than Bling claiming a podium finish and Demare strangely finishing outside the top 10. The Green jersey is all to play for now! Now that the two boring sprint stages are out of the way, the Tour kicks up a gear and we have 2 superb looking stages ahead of the on the next 2 days.
As mentioned, this is the first of 2 epic looking stages over the weekend that could really shake up the GC standings. Stage 8 looks to be the hardest route that the riders have had to face up to now and it gets progressively harder along the 187.5km route. There is an uncategorised climb at around the 28km mark and this is where we should see the first breakaway group attempt to get away. The riders then face 60km of rolling terrain before they hit the CAT 3 Col de la Joux. This climb doesn’t look too difficult on paper and neither does the following CAT 2 Cote de Viry and we’re unlikely to see many attacks to this point. The final, CAT 1, climb of, wait for it, Montée de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes, is where we should see some action, especially towards the steeper sections at the crest of climb. It looks to be a perfect launchpad for some of the stronger climbers to have a good go at claming the stage win. Once over the climb, another 12km of undulating terrain is ahead of whoever manages to get over the crest with some time under their belt. The Wolf has this stage nailed on as the first stage that the breakaway succeeds as Team Sky will not want to work too hard given what lies ahead on Stage 9.
Tiesj Benoot – $23.00
The young Belgian is known as a cobblestone classics specialist but his 12th place finish in the Dauphine showed how versatile he is as a rider and how wel he can mix it with the big boys. His ability on the flat makes him a prime candidate for the breakaway and he has a team fully behind both him & Wellens here. He rode well on stage 5 which indicates that his form is still good coming out of the Dauphine and he’ll have targeted this stage for a win as the undulating terrain suits him well. He has a huge sprint on him and if him & Wellens can escape together, they’ll be amongst the favourites to snatch the win from the breakaway group.
Alexis Vuillermoz – $41.00
The one thing that stands out on this stage for Vuillermoz is that the route goes through his birthplace. usually found working hard for bardet, the Frenchman might be allowed the freedom to get into the break to try for the stage win. He’ll have plenty of roadside support and will know the climbs very well. He might need assistance getting up the final climb but if he can hang on to someone’s wheel he certainly possesses a decent enough sprint to power away on the final flat section. His teammate, Bakelants, will also be looking to get into the break and they could form a good partnership with the aim being the stage win.