There are few riders remaining in good form, writes Jack Houghton, who thinks the favourites look solid, but fancies an outsider, too, at big odds
"On Stage 18, despite being dropped early, Pello Bilbao (20.0019/1) recovered and was making inroads on the leading duo on the final climb..."
What's the stage like?
After the shenanigans of rider protests and route shortenings on Stage 19, this stage - which organisers have already announced will omit the climb up the Colle dell'Agnello due to snow and sub-zero temperatures towards its summit and has seen other changes due to Covid-19 restrictions in France - will hopefully go ahead as (re)planned.
Even in its amended form, the stage is hard, with three Category One climbs in quick succession in the last 50km, each ascending via different routes up to the ski resort of Sestriere. However, whether it is as hard as some in the General Classification battle would have liked is another matter.
Who are the favourites?
After his win on Stage 18, Jai Hindley (6.005/1) is the rightful favourite. With his teammate and Maglia Rosa wearer Wilco Kelderman (20.0019/1) looking vulnerable, Hindley will again be given the license to go with any move made by GC rivals, and unless Kelderman has recovered his race legs, it could be Hindley that takes the jersey for Team Sunweb by stage end.
And unlike on Stage 18, where Hindley sat on Tao Geoghegan Hart (6.6011/2) for most of the final climb before striking in the closing stages, Hindley may be motivated here to be more aggressive. After all, he will almost certainly lose time to rivals on the closing time trial of Stage 21.
Geoghegan Hart will be similarly motivated. He can likely match Kelderman in that final time trial, but needs to overturn a 15-second deficit and would no doubt like a cushion, too.
Purely on price, Geoghegan Hart is the choice of the favourites.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
In a race that is reaching its climax with few riders in any kind of form, it's hard to see much beyond the leading pair. With one exception, perhaps.
On Stage 18, despite being dropped early, Pello Bilbao (20.0019/1) recovered and was making inroads on the leading duo on the final climb.
I'll be splitting my stake between Bilbao and Geoghegan Hart.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
By stage end, we should know who the likely winner of the Maglia Rosa will be.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Tao Geoghegan Hart @ 6.6011/2
Back Pello Bilbao @ 20.0019/1