Tour de France Stage 11 Preview
It was an exciting stage in the Tour, perhaps the most exciting so far, it was a tricky stage with a lot of rolling terrain but after an intense fight for the breakaway things slowed down, only to be picked up when there were sections of crosswinds that really shook the peloton. Several attemps were made, the tension was high but with a bit over 30Km to go the peloton split into three groups (rumours are a roundabout caused some riders to completely loose position), with Pinot, Fuglsang, Porte and Uran between those in the second group, Giulio Ciccone a bit further behind and George Bennett completely dipped on the road. The chasing was intense from every group, Mikel Landa crashed in the meantime and also had a tremendous loss of time due to it, this being the day so far that's caused the bigger gaps between the GC contenders. In the midst of this there was a stage to be fought for, Viviani's Deceuninck and Sagan's Bora drove the peloton alongside INEOS, Caleb Ewan, Matteo Trentin were also there but it was Sunweb who leadout the final kilometer trying to bring Matthews to an elusive win but when it came to the sprint he was completely overshot by the sprinters and between them it was Wout van Aert who capitalized with a massive sprint, winning over Viviani and Ewan in Albi.
Positive: All of those who managed to make the decisive split, INEOS are definetely the big winners of the day, having their main rivals heavily distanced they are now in clear control of the GC, that is, right behind Alaphillipe.
Negative: 1:40, that was the time Pinot/Fuglsang/Porte/Uran lost. A massive blow to say the least, this leaves INEOS in full control of the race and leaves all these riders with a major setback in their overall targets. Mikel Landa and Giulio Ciccone lost 2:09 and George Bennett is completely out of the GC fight, loosing over 9 minutes after not having almost any team support.
The second week starts in Occitaine roads, an easier day to get back into racing after the first rest day and there isn't that much to study en route to Toulouse, a much more relenting stage in terms of terrain with easier roads to organize a chase.
The finish should also be an organized one despite a nasty ramp in the final 5 kilometers. The final kilometer will have a slight lean onto the left, it won't be of a dificulty but it will mean that riders can be blocked more easily, coming through the outside gives more open space but may come as a disadvantage to come around riders, but going on the inside may see them blocked. So finding the balance is ideal, and perhaps a day where the leadout will be absolutely essential to whoever takes the win.
The wind will slow down in relation to the previous days, it will be nothing more than a breeze from the west which means a headwind in the crucial parts of the stage. There's a long section halfway through the stage where it would be possible to do some damage if it's intensity was bigger but it should be a calm and relaxed day in the bunch.
All the indicators point towards a bunch finish, it's hard to find ways to dodge that possibility taking into acount the profile and the weather.
Dylan Groenewegen and Elia Viviani, as in every bunch sprint, comes as the big favourites. The Dutch is currently on a team that's won three bunch sprints with three different riders and the morale of his leadout must be sky-high and fully willing to sacrifice themselves for him, although he hasn't had the best of races so far. As for Viviani he's been there, today for example he was but being beaten by a member of the rival's leadout isn't exactly the motivation he would want to take into a sprint. Still Deceuninck have been the best team in that sense and if anyone has guarrantees of being brought to the line it's him.
Caleb Ewan has been in the podium quite some times already but hasn't obtained his win yet, as he has suffered from positioning in a finish like this I wouldn't put him in the same level, still he is to be considered just as Sagan who may benefit more than everyone else from the finish.
I don't think there are any contenders for the win besides them, Matthews/Trentin/Colbrelli have been there pretty much everyday but far from the win, Kristoff and Phillipsen look like the ones that could pose more of a threat to the previous names, the rest are minor names for the lower Top10 such as Stuyven, Greipel and Pasqualon.
⭐ Phillipsen, Kristoff, Matthews, Trentin
Going with Groenewegen. Both times I did so far he either crashed or completely messed up the run-up, when I didn't he won, so maybe it's time to balance out and he takes a win when I call him out. Pure sprint it should suit him, leadout is on spot and he has the legs, specially after a rest day.
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