Richard Carapaz of Ecuador, left, strains as he tries to follow Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar during the eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 150.8 kilometers (93.7 miles) with start in Oyonnax and finish in Le Grand-Bornand, France,Saturday, July 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
- Stage 14 of the 2021 Tour de France (Saturday, July 10) should be conducive for a successful breakaway
- The 184 kilometers between Carcassonne and Quillan feature five categorized climbs
- Which versatile, tactical, opportunistic rider will win Stage 14?
There are primarily three types of Tour de France stages. It is easy to focus on bunch sprints, and daring mountains stages. Saturday brings us the third category, the not a sprint, not a crazy climbing, hybrid day that really rewards riders that strategize well and are technically sound.
The reason hilly stages don’t get a lot of hype are the main players. They are good riders, but not those constantly in the headlines. Friday Mark Cavendish, a sprinter’s speedster, equaled the all time Tour record with his 34th career stage victory. Race leader Tadej Pogacar maintained his spot, more than five minutes ahead of the pack. Between the attention given to Cavendish and Pogacar, there isn’t a lot of room left for everyone else.
Wout Van Aert (+900) and Julian Alaphilippe (+900) are the tepid favorites to win Stage 14 when action gets going at 6:40 am EST. If you can choose the winner, the price will be worthwhile. Let’s look at the odds and some contenders.
Tour de France Stage 14 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Wout Van Aert||+900||+250|
|Magnus Cort Nielsen||+2000||+550|
Odds as of July 9th.
After experiencing some frustration that a sprint did not develop on Thursday, Cavendish got his way on Friday and took advantage. He tied Eddy Merckx’s Tour de France record winning his 34th career stage.
During Stage 12, on the heels of the taxing double ascent of Mont Ventoux, Cavendish’s Deceuninck–Quick-Step team failed to control the race and a breakaway got clear. While a breakaway tried to escape on Stage 13, they never got more than about four minutes ahead, and were reeled in with 19 km left. Cavendish has proven the best this year in bunch sprints, this was his fourth victory of the race.
It is sort of unbelievable how things came into place for Cavendish this year. He had not won a Tour stage since 2016 entering this year’s event, and wasn’t even scheduled to take part in it. However, an injury to Sam Bennett got Cavendish a starting spot, and then on the first sprint this year the fastest man in the world, Caleb Ewan got injured. Since then he has dominated the short bursts. He’ll have an opportunity to pass Merckx on Stages 19 and 21 so long as he can survive the climbing over the next week or so.
UEFA Euro 2020 Odds Tracker
As for the GC race, sprints are not normally where there is a lot of movement, and indeed Stage 13 was uneventful for Pogacar and his chasers. The defending champ leads Rogoberto Uran by 5:18. Jonas Vingegaard is in third place, 5:32 behind. Richard Carapaz is a single tick behind Vingegaard. Ben O’Connor is in fifth position, 5:58 back.
Stage 14 takes the race to the foothills of the Pyrenees. Things are mostly flat over the first half of the ride, but then it get bumpy. There are two Category 3 and three Cat 2 challenges. The most difficult is probably the Col de Montségur, 4.2 kilometers at 8.6%, but the final challenge is no bargain either. The Col de Saint Louis is 4.7 kilometers at 7.4% before a sharp downhill to the finish.
Who will be feeling good, make the right decisions, and have the skill to navigate Stage 14 into a win? Let’s look at some top options.
Alaphilippe won Stage 1 this year, and though he is an excellent climber, and in fact is just a really good overall rider, hybrid stages are his greatest strength. A puncheur has the ability to win in a variety of ways, to be opportunistic, and that is who Alaphilippe is, and what this route is all about.
In five career Tour’s, Alaphilippe has won six stages. He took the Mountains Classification in 2018, and is in excellent form.
Wout Van Aert has a lot of the same skills as Alaphilippe. He is an adapt climber, illustrated by his Stage 11 victory this year, but also is competitive in sprints, and certainly excels on hybrid days.
This is the third career Tour for Van Aert, and he has won four stages. He is a very logical favorite on a fairly open day.
Sonny Colbrelli has really turned the page, and in a way that few are able to accomplish. He is arguably having his best career year, at the age of 31. Though he hasn’t won a Tour stage this year, he has been in the mix as expected in sprints, and shockingly climbing too.
Colbrelli entered the Tour this year going good. He won the Italian National Road Race, and took the points title at the Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné.
One thing that makes Grand Tours so much fun are the stories within the race. Out of nowhere Matej Mohoric won Stage 7. Pogacar is from Slovenia. Primoz Roglic, a pre-race favorite who twice has won the Vuelta a España and was the runner up to Pogacar last year is from Slovenia. What were the odds a third Slovenian could have his magic moment on the road to Paris too?
Mohoric is viable for a couple of reasons on Saturday. First, he is really good form, and second he can win both straight up, racing with the pack, or in a breakaway.
Pogacar does not need to win any stages the rest of the way, he simply needs to remain safe and cruise into Paris a winner. If he were to win a stage, it most likely would come in the mountains. He is an excellent climber, and that is where he will be attacked. That said, what if there is no significant breakaway, or another GC rider tries to make a move. The price is right, and it is never crazy to think Pogacar might flex his muscles.
This is Pogacar’s second Tour and he has won four career stages. Two of those are time trials.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.