What’s the stage like?
It’s a novelty: a double ascent of the iconic Mont Ventoux. Also containing three other categorised climbs, its 199km will be brutal, especially as weather forecasts predict rain to be a near certainty, with storms a possibility.
If it does rain, the downs may prove more significant than the ups, especially as the two descents from Ventoux down to the finish town of Malaucene are high-speed and treacherous.
Who are the favourites?
Unsurprisingly, Tadej Pogacar (5.004/1) is the favourite to take the honours, but as we’ve seen already on this Tour, just because he is the best climber in the race, it doesn’t mean he’ll win a stage like this: his talent must be matched by his intent.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
There are a host of the usual contenders for mountain stages that might profit if Pogacar let’s them. Sergio Higuita (25.0024/1), Ion Izaguirre (25.0024/1), David Gaudu (25.0024/1), Nairo Quintana (28.0027/1), Richard Carapaz (30.0029/1), and several others all have chances of attacking on one of the ascents of Ventoux and holding it until the stage end.
That attack may come too late, though. This stage – despite its toughness – looks like it might go to an early breakaway: a breakaway those riders named above are unlikely to be allowed in. A better strategy on this stage, then, might be to have a speculative punt on a big-priced breakaway hopeful.
Master of the breakaways, Thomas De Gendt (150.00149/1) is the call. He’s twice won stages at the Tour, including once in 2016 on a stage that finished atop Ventoux. That day’s parcours was much easier than this, but De Gendt descends well and can cause a surprise.
What effect will it have on the overall markets?
With a lot of points on offer, expect Nairo Quintana to be active early in the stage as he looks to further secure the Mountains Classification. Otherwise, this is about the General Classification. Pogacar’s lead may be practically unassailable, but the fight for the podium will ensure plenty of action: it’s the last chance for hopefuls to make moves prior to Sunday’s stage into Andorra.
*Odds correct at the time of writing