Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar, wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey, and his teammates ride in the pack during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 207 kilometers (128.6 miles) with start in Mourenx and finish in Libourne, France,Friday, July 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
- Stage 20 of the Tour de France (Saturday, July 17) is the race’s second Individual Time Trial
- The 32 kilometres between Libourne and Saint-Émilionon are mostly flat among vineyards
- Who will win the ITT, and where can we find betting value in the odds?
A Stage 20 Individual Time Trial. This seems familiar. It was last year, on a less traditional Stage 20 ITT that involved changing bikes and climbing, that Tadej Pogacar stole the Tour de France from Primoz Roglic.
Pogacar appears in complete control of this year’s race. Friday, on what looked like it would probably be a stage that included a bunch sprint, the breakaway opened up an enormous edge and Matej Mohoric soloed home with his second stage victory of the year. The GC race was unchanged.
With only the ceremonial final stage remaining after the time trial, Pogacar just needs to be safe on Saturday in order to win the Tour de France. That said, he took the first ITT on this year’s race, and adding a fourth stage victory in 2021 to his resume is very much on the table.
When Stage 20 begins (7:05 am ET) will Pogacar (+300) put an exclamation mark on his likely title? He is among the favorite, but there are plenty of viable options.
Let’s review Saturday’s top options and consider where a bet might be worthwhile.
Tour de France Stage 20 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win Stage|
|Wout Van Aert||+150|
|Magnus Cort Nielsen||+4000|
Odds as of July 16th at DraftKings
Friday was supposed to be the day that Mark Cavendish broke Eddy Merckx’s half century old record for career stage victories at the Tour de France. The Manx Missile, who has seen his career revived this year with four stage wins, is tied with Merckx at 34 daily victories. As we see time and time again in Grand Tours, stages that look perfect for sprinters sometimes don’t work out that way late in races. Sprint teams have difficulty controlling breakaways following all of the hard work it takes to survive the mountains. That said, Cavendish will be an enormous favorite to win Sunday on the Champs-Élysées.
While there isn’t much drama at the top of the GC standings entering the ITT, the race for second and third are heated. Pogacar has a 5:45 lead over Jonas Vingegaard. Just six seconds behind Vingegaard is Richard Carapaz. Fourth place Ben O’Connor (8:18) and fifth place Wilco Kelderman (8:50) would need incredible days and help from above on Saturday to reach the podium.
The time trial route, near Bordeaux, and among rolling vineyards, is far from the challenging ITT that changed last year’s race. This is almost entirely flat, just a few bumps along the way, and while incredibly beautiful, should not provide a tremendous amount of drama, at least at the top of the standings. That said, the stage is fairly wide open.
Let’s look at some top contenders in Stage 20.
Favorites to Know
There are contrasting pieces of information on Pogacar and his chances to win the time trial. On one hand, his Stage 20 victory last year is among the all time great moments in the sport’s history. He also won Stage 5’s ITT this year. Furthermore, while he certainly doesn’t need to win on Saturday, it isn’t like he can be attacked or lose because his team let’s him down.
The reasons to bet against Pogacar are numerous too. While he has won two straight time trials, this wasn’t previously identified as what he does best. He was +3300 on Stage 5. He has no real motivation, he just needs to avoid a crash to win the race. You also can’t really compare this stage to last year’s 20th Stage, it is apples and oranges.
Last year Wout van Aert won two stages at the Tour, and this year he has taken one. He finished fourth in the Stage 5 ITT.
In March van Aert rode Tirreno–Adriatico. He was the runner up in the race, and won the time trial.
Give credit to Stefan Bissegger. This is his first Tour de France, and largely a time trial specialist, he is still standing on Stage 20.
The 23 year-old won the points title this year and took a stage at the Tour de Suisse. Like Bissegger, Stefan Kung has had success in individual pursuit, and is regarded as a time trial specialist. Kung won the ITT at the Tour de Suisse, and finished second behind Pogacar on Stage 5 at the Tour.
Kasper Asgreen has proven to be more than a just a factor on ITT’s. He won the Tour of Flanders, and finished fifth in the Stage 7 of this year’s Tour de France.
Asgreen won the National Road Championships in Denmark this year, and on the Tour’s first time trial finished sixth.
Vingegaard is having an incredible first Tour de France. Not only is he a near lock for the podium, the young Dane has a real chance to earn a stage win on Saturday.
During the first time trial this year Vingegaard finished third. He has been sharp throughout, and should be a factor on Stage 20.
Mikkel Bjerg is a time trial specialist who didn’t have a particularly strong Stage 5. He finished 11th. That said, after working for Pogacar the whole race, it wouldn’t be surprising if he let loose knowing he is no longer needed in support at this point.
Team UAE is not regarded as one of the top overall units. To think they could win the race, and take an ITT with a different rider, would help change those perceptions.
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.