France’s Julian Alaphilippe climbs the Loze pass during the stage 17 of the Tour de France cycling race over 170 kilometers (105 miles), with start in Grenoble and finish in Meribel Col de la Loze,. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
- Stage 11 of the 2021 Tour de France (Wednesday, July 7) is the longest mountain stage of this year’s event
- Wednesday’s double ascent of Mont Ventoux has been much anticipated
- Who will reach Malaucène first on the most macho of race days?
Mont Ventoux: equally revered and feared, many Tour de France’s have been won or lost on this unforgiving mountain. Can anybody threaten Tadej Pogacar’s big lead on its slopes on Wednesday?
Tuesday’s predictable sprint was won by Mark Cavendish, of course. Stage 10 did not impact the GC standings. Contenders can take multiple cracks at Pogacar on Wednesday, but to this point, he has repelled all challenges and dominated the proceedings.
Though he has not won a mountain stage this year, and doesn’t need to in order to wear yellow in Paris, Pogacar (+400) is the reasonable favorite to win Stage 11 when things get going (6:15 am ET) on perhaps the most challenging day of this year’s race.
Let’s look carefully at the Stage 11 prices and handicap some of the entries.
Tour de France Stage 11 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Ion Izagirre Insausti||+1600||+500|
|Miguel Angel Lopez||+2800||+800|
Odds as of July 6th.
Since the early 1950’s the Tour has regularly tackled Ventoux. Tom Simpson died traversing it during the 1967 race. All time greats Raymond Poulidor and Eddy Merckx have won memorable stages at the top. More recently Alberto Contador and Chris Froome got the job done on Ventoux en route to victory.
Wednesday’s 199 kilometres between Sorgues and Malaucène feature two early Category 4 climbs, before riders encounter the Col de la Liguière, a 9.3 km challenge at 6.7%. The first dose of Ventoux comes with more than 40% of the day still to come, and is 22 kilometres at 5.1%. After the ascent, cyclists fly downward before the final challenge presents itself, 15.7 km’s with an average gradient of 8.8%. The race ends with 22 km of sharp downhill racing, not for the faint of heart.
Stage 10 went according to script. So many top sprinters are out of the race at this point, and Cavendish is incredibly hungry. Having picked his career up off the ground, he is in the form of a decade ago. His third victory of this year’s Tour, and 33rd overall, puts him one behind Merckx for all time victories. There are four more flat stages to go, assuming Cavendish can survive the mountains.
Pogacar continues to hold a 2:01 lead over Ben O’Connor. Rigoberto Uran is in third place, 5:18 behind the leader. Jonas Vingegaard is first off of the podium at this point, 5:32 back. Then comes Richard Carapaz (5:33), Enric Mas (5:47), and Wilco Kelderman (5:58).
So what will Pogacar’s attitude and approach be like on Wednesday? Before the rest day he had two excellent afternoons in the mountains, exerting major effort when challenged, and buried his primary competition. That said, his team did not dictate terms, and winning the stages did not seem to be overly important.
With a pretty hefty lead, most of the field could attack without really impacting Pogacar. It seems somewhat unlikely UAE Team Emirates is going to worry about a breakaway, and that very well could lead to a winner with decent odds. That said, Pogacar will keep his eyes closely on any moves Carapaz tries to make. He is pretty clearly Pogacar’s top rival at this stage, but each of his attacks thus far have been for naught.
Let’s consider some possible bets for Wednesday’s stage.
It appears like Pogacar is the strongest rider in the mountains by a pretty significant amount right now. That said, the goal at this point clearly is to safely navigate the final week-and-a-half and coast into Paris to claim a second straight victory. Pogacar flexing his muscles wouldn’t be a shocker, and if he is attacked, or someone threatening is in the break there is no question he’ll react. It is unclear how likely those scenarios are.
Betting on the best is never a bad strategy. If he was fully motivated to win the stage his odds would be a lot shorter. Whether he offers value or not is up for debate.
While Julian Alaphilippe must have been angry about his nightmarish day on Sunday, it probably helps his cause to win a stage or two. He dropped a half hour in the mountains before the day off, and now is no threat to Pogacar. That should allow him to go for it, something he is more than capable of, and not be tracked closely.
A winner of six Tour stages, Alaphilippe took the Mountains Classification in 2018. He is capable, and individual days are what he can salvage at this point.
On one hand Carapaz seems like the Pogacar’s primary rival at this point. His chances of making the podium are strong. On the other hand Pogacar respects him and won’t let him go. Carapaz has attacked on three straight climbing stages, and has been put in his place each time.
Carapaz has to begin making up the deficit sometime soon. This is one of four mountain stages remaining. It would be surprising if he didn’t try, and it isn’t crazy to think he could attack late, make minimal gains, win the day, but still not threaten Pogacar in the overall. That said, the next time Pogacar is willing to concede anything to Carapaz will be the first time.
Former mountain biker Jakob Fuglsang is exactly the type of rider who has nothing to lose in a breakaway and is plenty capable.
A two time winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Fuglsang is out of contention, capable in the mountains, and Team Astana is looking for some glory. Fuglsang won a stage at the Vuelta a España in 2019.
Ventoux is so legendary in recent years they have created an event just to have riders challenge it.
Miguel Ángel López was incredible when he made the fastest ascent of it since 2004 in this year’s Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge.
Lopez is a known commodity. He has finished a half dozen Grand Tour’s and been in the Top 10 each time. He won a mountain stage on the Tour last year, and finished first at the the Vuelta a Andalucía a couple months ago.
It is also possible that Lopez could work in support of Movistar teammate Enric Mas, who is in sixth place and has an opportunity to make the podium.
Mas was third in the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, and his best career moments have been on climbs.