Tour de France 2018: Stage 11: Geraint Thomas to repeat Dauphine practice
Although this is a day that will bring more clarity to the Yellow Jersey competition, writes Jack Houghton, the final climb won't necessarily suit the favourites in that competition...
"Given his performance here in the Dauphine, I'll be backing Geraint Thomas ([26.00]). We know the stage suits him, and Team Sky will presumably be happy to see him taking a win, as long as he drags Chris Froome ([11.00]) up hill with him...
What's the stage like?
When Rein Taaramae broke clear on the penultimate climb of Stage 10, I thought I was in for a bumper pay-out, along with inclusion in the New Year's Honours List for services to punting. He was matched at lows of under [4.00] and hopefully many of you managed to lock-in some profit from betting in-play. If not, let's try to go again on Stage 11...
The first summit finish of the Tour would be the shortest stage in most years, but Stage 11 does not claim that title because of the oddity of Stage 17 that awaits riders in the Pyrenees. Nonetheless, it will be an explosive mountain stage - which organisers of the Grand Tours have increasingly favoured in recent years - as, in its short 108km, it packs in four categorised climbs, including the super-categorised Col du Pre and Montee de Bisanne. The final climb to the finish, whilst not especially steep, is a long drag of around 20km to the finish in La Rosiere.
The same route was ridden in the 2018 Criterium de Dauphine, where Geraint Thomas attacked in the final stages of the climb to claim second on the stage and put time into Dan Martin, Adam Yates, and Romain Bardet.
Who are the favourites?
It's a day for the General Classification guys, and a case can be made for any number of them to win.
Topping most lists, though, is Warren Barguil ([7.00]). He has gone on record as saying that his aim was to lose time early in the Tour so as to be given freedom from the peloton to target mountain stage wins. Having tumbled down the leader-board to 46th place, more than 10 minutes behind the Yellow Jersey, he has achieved the first part of his aim. He certainly has the capability to win a stage like this - he won the similarly explosive Pyrenean Stage 13 in last year's Tour - but those are short odds to be taking in such a stacked field.
It's worth remembering that Barguil was part of an early breakaway that day, winning the stage in a sprint after a long downhill into Foix, and that this stage is likely to play out differently. One significant factor that will make it difficult for Barguil is the long, but not especially steep, final ascent, which will see the peloton quickly recover time on anyone out front. He's got the ability, for sure - as he showed on the Izoard last year, too - but the competition for this stage win means, on balance, that he is one to avoid at the odds.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Pretty much any of the riders mentioned in our Yellow Jersey preview. I'm most interested, though, in those suited by the final climb. This is not a day for the explosive attacks typically dished out by the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana. Instead, it's a stage for those who can grind out a fast, uphill time trial. With this in mind, it might be worth looking at the likes of Primoz Roglic ([26.00]) and Tom Dumoulin ([34.00]). However, given his performance here in the Dauphine, I'll be backing Geraint Thomas ([26.00]). We know the stage suits him, and Team Sky will presumably be happy to see him taking a win, as long as he drags Chris Froome ([11.00]) up hill with him.
What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?
The first summit finish is significant in any Tour, because whilst the opening 10 stages have told us something about the main Yellow Jersey contenders, we still await evidence of who comes with the form to compete on stages like this one, which are pivotal in deciding who tops the General Classification.
Peter Sagan picked up a maximum 20 points on the intermediate sprint on Stage 10, and will presumably do the same in Villard-sur-Doron here. He only needs to make it to Paris intact to win the Points Classification.
*Odds quoted are correct at the time of writing
Back Geraint Thomas @ [26.00]