Tour de France Stage 13 Preview
Simon Yates took the win on a day where the breakaway had no trouble making it to the line. It was a quick first hour of racing with a group of around 40 riders escaping, no-one in it that could threaten the GC so despite Deceuninck putting on a chase in the flat section once the race entered the climbs the peloton went into a slow pace with no attacks whatsoever. In front Calmejane was the first real attacker, Simon Clarke attacked over the Peyresourde but then in the final climb Yates and Muhlberger, alongside later Bilbao managed to distance the bulk of chasers who were never to see the trio again. In the final sprint Yates antecipated the final turn and managed to hold on beating Bilbao and Muhlberger by a short gap.
Positive: Mitchelton looked dialed all day long, Trentin looked mega strong on the climbs and despite Yates' strategy not seeming the best he made it all good by taking the win. Nothing more to really point out.
Negative: Sunweb, their strategy was just plain weird, having half the team they burnt themselves on the flat and then instead of saving Matthews they had him working in a group of 30 during the climbs for Roche. Safe to say they did it to themselves, Roche finished 15th to cap off a long and fatiguing day of work that was completely unecessary. Rohan Dennis was part of a weird event, on the eve of the day he was targeting he abandoned for reasons that -at the time I'm writing- are confusing, rumours of an argument with the DS.
Stage 13 is the race's sole individual time-trial. Every year a crucial stage, but I really like the fact that this year they've put it early on in the race, having the final time-trial in the 13th stage leaves a lot of room for the race to be decided, opposite to the classic "climbs sets who fights for the win but time-trial is where the gaps are made". Besides, it's only 27 kilometers long and it's quite rolling, with a 3Km at 4.7% climb in the early part and the Cªote d'Esquillot which is a full kilometer at 7%, not real climbs but they will interupt the rhythm and will allow the pure climbers to limit their losses a bit. Not a very technical time-trial, at least in that sense it will favour the specialists.
No-one will be favoured as the wind will remain with the same intensity throughout the afternoon, it isn't strong anyhow, coming from the east with less than 10Km/h, it will come as a crosswind all stage long pretty much except for the Cote d'Esquillot which should help the non-specialists limit their losses in that section.
With the main contender for the victory out of the race it is a bit more open stage, but it won't ilude the specialists specially since nowadays there is barely any time-trialist who can't power over this type of climb as well as the pure climbers.
Geraint Thomas is the GC riders' reference, great form, great build-up for the Tour and the route is very favourable for him, there will only be seconds separating the best and he is the one that can profit from the climbing. Riders like Bernal and Kruisjwijk may be the ones more favoured to gain time on their rivals too but the yellow jersey shouldn't get off Alaphillipe's shoulders.
Wout van Aert will come as the overated favourite from the specialists. Overated but, with good arguments behind him after a superb win in the Dauphiné ITT and subsequent great form here. Only say overated as it isn't as hard a time-trial as in that day, but he did later win the national championship ahead of Yves Lampaert which should be another one of the big names to note tomorrow, he and Asgreen are good names to track for the contention.
Stefan Kung is an outsider favourite but a real good one in my eye, he's a big rider who should like the route and won't be harmed much by the climbing, FDJ had a great TTT so it should be a great sign for him. Tony Martin and Nelson Oliveira are favourites but fatigue should put in a a minus in their time. Then Luke Durbridge, Chad Haga, Jonathan Castroviejo/Michal Kwiatkowski maybe won't be putting in an effort so as to save themselves, early to say that.
Besides those riders there are some that may come in the fight but not for the win, the feel of the day will count for a lot, we can also point riders from EF has solid contenders as the bike's time-trial improvement was very noticeable this season.
⭐ T.Martin, Oliveira, Kwiatkowski, Castroviejo, Durbridge, Haga, Langeveld
I'm going with a win for Wout van Aert, not that Thomas fatigued himself today but van Aert certainly put on his easiest pace, he has a perfect ability to deal with time-trials and in a team where time-trialing has been flawless this season I can absolutely see him take the win.
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