Article submitted by twitter user @cyclingbolar 

We are finally at the Alps. Now the real action can begin.

It’s a tight GC race at the moment with 20 riders within 3 mins of each other. Here is the GC classification with the other riders that won’t figure taken out.

1. Geraint Thomas
2. Bob Jungles +0.07
3. Alejandro Valverde +0.48
4. Rafal Majka +0.49
5. Jakob Fuglsang +0.50
6. Chris Froome +0.59
7. Adam Yates s.t
8. Mikel Landa s.t
9. Vincenzo Nibali +1.05
10. Primoz Roglic +1.14
11. Bauke Mollema +1.15
12. Tom Dumoulin +1.20
13. Steven Kruijswijk +1.23
14. Romain Bardet +1.49
15. Warren Barguil +1.54
16. Ilnur Zakarin +1.59
17. Domenico Pozzovivo +2.05
18. Nairo Quintana +2.07
19. Rigoberto Uran +2.10
20. Daniel Martin +2.49

There’s a few riders and teams here that need to race the stage hard. Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana. Vincenzo Nibali and Adam Yates in particular. With Ag2r, Movistar, Bahrain-Merida having strong squads, it’s up to them to bring it up to Sky.

Therefore, let’s assume the contenders will battle it out, we’ll look at the favourites.

Chris Froome – With the descent to the finish, you can remember Chris Froome putting everyone to the sword on the first mountain stage in 2016 to Bagneres-de-Luchon. Everyone arrived at the top together, but he put in a blistering attack and descended away from everyone.

Vincenzo Nibali – One of the best descenders in the race. If he gets gapped, he can bridge back on the descent or he can ride away on the descent.

Alejandro Valverde – If no one gets away on the descent, and a small group of 3-6 come to the line together, then Valverde will be favourite as he can outsprint everyone.

Jakob Fuglsang – In the form of his life and has a strong team to help him. Doesn’t have the speed to win a sprint and would need to ride away solo which will be hard.

Romain Bardet – Will attack and if he gets a slight lead over the top, he will descend solo to victory.

Nairo Quintana – Is far enough down to attack but won’t be given much leeway. If the others start looking at each other he can get a lead and can maybe win solo. That’s the only way and it will be hard.

Primoz Roglic – With Steven Kruijswijk, these two make a good two-pronged attack. Kruijswijk will probably ride wheels tomorrow and Roglic is the one that might try an attack. A good descender too.

Dan Martin – Looked good up the Mur de Bretagne, but that is nothing compared to this stage. Due to his lack of time trialing skills, he needs to attack. Again might be granted a little bit of leeway.

Adam Yates – The unknown. Not sure how he will go.

Early breakaway riders

The stage should be ridden hard, but if there are some strong climbers in the break, one or two could stay away to the finish.

Thomas De Gendt – probably too hard for him and will most likely be against stronger climbers – but he will give it a try because that’s how he rolls.

Lillian Calmejane – Definitely will try to get in the early move

Guillaume Martin – Is far enough down to get in there

Ion & Gorka Izagirre – Whilst Nibali is the leader, one could be allowed the opportunity to go in the break.

Serge Pauwels – not riding for anyone. Will be on the attack in the mountain stages

Nicolas Edet & Daniel Narvarro – same team. Expect Cofidis to be active tomorrow and both are well enough down and in good enough form to pull something off.

Damiano Caruso & Tejay Van Garderen – now that BMC don’t have a GC hope, they will be attacking for stage wins.

Omar Fraile – If Fuglsang wants someone up the road to help him later on if needs be, then Fraile will be the man. If given the green light to go for the stage win, he can descend and sprint.

A lot of people think that this will be a GC day. Yes, it will be – the GC riders will do battle all day and a showdown is expected, but I think the break is going to feature a good enough climber. If that climber or two or three with him get to the top of the final climb with a 30 second advantage, that should be enough for them to hold off the GC contenders. I don’t think that will happen.

It is the first mountain stage and Froome will want to put on a show. I think we may see a carbon copy of Stage 8 in 2016 where he descends solo to victory.

  1. Chris Froome
  2. Alejandro Valverde
  3. Daniel Martin

Bets 

Bets I’m on at Crownbet Australia

Chris Froome @ $34 (.5)
Omar Fraile @ $81 (.5)

Jakob Fuglsang over Rafal Majka @ $1.75 (8)

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