Another brut of a stage in the Alps.The riders go straight into the Col du Glandon(a monumental 21.6km at 5.1%),this has to be the worst way to start a stage for most riders.We got a lot of attacking today and I would hope to see the same amount of early attacks tomorrow.If you want to win the KOTM jersey you simply have to be in the morning break,to allow you to take the 50 points on offer on the opening HC climbs.Riblon,Van Garderen,Rolland and Nieve have to go early.
We then have a very steep downhill before the Col de la Madeleine.This is 17.9km at 7.9%.If you’re on a bad day then this start will eliminate you.It starts steep but levels out for a long distance before some steep sections in the final 10km.It has a maximum gradient of 11.3%.The riders have another long downhill before around 20km in the valley,if a GC rider goes for it,having teammates will be of great help here.
The Col de l’Epine is much harder with 2 sections over 9% and the riders have to keep something back for the final climb of the day,the Col de la Croix Fry.
This 1st cat climb is hard and has a section above 9%.From the crest of the climb there is 13km down to the finish in Le Grand-Bornand.If the riders haven’t suffered enough the finishing line is up a small hill!
Luckily I have one.There will be a lot of attacking from Movistar on the opening climb as they try to remove the Sky riders,Saxo will also lend a hand.I would think that Nieve and Rolland will be in the morning break but it might not get away for quite a while.
The GC riders that are looking the strongest are Froome,Quintana and Rodriguez but Contador will be defending his podium spot at the same time as trying to beat Froome.There were a few riders that coasted today and will try and get in the break,they are:Rein Taaramae and Brice Feillu.As the stage is very hard the break will need to big in order to stay away,so the early stages of the race will determine what happens.If a small peloton arrive at the finish together then a climber with a sprint will win.So look for Rodriguez,Valverde,Rui Costa and Kwiatkowski.
Another thing to consider is the team classification.Saxo are currently leading but AG2R and RadioShack are close.I would expect to see both teams send riders in the break,in case it stays away.Look for Kloden,Bakelants,Didier,Kadri and Minard,but I think the GC boys will win the day.
Prediction time …..
Hopefully we’ll get another brilliant stage.
- Riblon wins Stage 18 in Alps, Froome keeps lead (herald-review.com)