After the calamity of Stage 19 it's hard to piece together exactly what has happened, writes Jack Houghton, but Bernal and Nibali have to be the call
"News of chaos: Thibaut Pinot is out, and after localised snowstorms have caused the abandonment of Stage 19, it looks like Egan Bernal will wear the Yellow Jersey on the final day of note..."
What's the stage like?
Hopefully more straightforward than Stage 19. At the time of writing I'm sat in an Airbnb in the Bresse region of France, Eurotunnel delays having scuppered spectating duties, wrestling with a Wi-Fi connection that is bringing (intermittent) news of chaos: Thibaut Pinot is out, and after localised snowstorms have caused the abandonment of Stage 19, it looks like Egan Bernal will wear the Yellow Jersey on the final day of note having led over the Col de L'Iseran.
And what a day of note. At only 130km, it's another short, explosive stage in the mountains with two tough categorised climbs, before riders tackle the interminable 33km ascent to Val Thorens, with an average gradient of 5.5% (but with some sections towards the summit reaching nearly 10%), topping out at 2,365m.
In total on this day, riders will climb a total of 4,450m, and after the cumulative effects of the previous alpine stages - not to mention the preceding three weeks - this will be less about which rider is best, and more about which one has dealt with the demands of one of the toughest Tours in memory.
Who are the favourites?
Egan Bernal ([4.00]), having showed himself the best of the GC riders in the calamity of Stage 19, is a worthy favourite to win a stage for real in Val Thorens, assuming the race is able to avoid more bad weather and actually makes the finish line. Geraint Thomas will presumably now relinquish team leadership in full to Bernal and ride for him, and with so many GC riders now out of the reckoning, the field looks weaker than it has at any stage.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
The one exception in terms of weakness is Vincenzo Nibali, who, for reasons outlined yesterday, is going to be dangerous on this last stage. It is interesting to note that he was only 50 seconds behind Bernal when Stage 19 was called off and he will be keen to take something from this Tour on a stage that represents his last chance. At around [30.00] in the early market exchanges, he is value to do so.
What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?
Thomas should be able to take the time necessary out of Julian Alaphilippe to take second spot on the podium in Paris, and it will be interesting to see if Steven Kruijswijk or Emanuel Buchmann are able to do likewise and boot the Frenchman out of third place, too. After the way Alaphilippe has animated the race, that would perhaps be a shame, but he's looked like a spent force this last week.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
Back Egan Bernal @ [4.00]
Back Vincenzo Nibali @ [30.00]