Dylan Groenewegen should be the fastest on this downhill finish, writes Jack Houghton, but there's a slight worry that he might not be there to contest the sprint
"With this being one of only three flat stages left, the sprinters will not be easing themselves back in: they'll be going full gas to claim a win..."
What's the stage like?
An unusual stage from Albi to Toulouse comes after the rest day. It's relatively flat, with only two, insignificant climbs, and covers only 167km. It's almost as if organisers have recognised that cyclists are always nervy after a day off, and have gifted them a chance to ease their bodies back into racing prior to three mountainous stages in the Pyrenees and a time trial to boot.
With this being one of only three flat stages left, though, the sprinters will not be easing themselves back in: they'll be going full gas to claim a win as their opportunities to do so diminish. Expect Deceuninck-Quick Step, Lotto-Soudal, and Jumbo-Visma to be riding at the front in the later stages.
Who are the favourites?
After the disappointment of Stage 10, where Groenewegen was nowhere to be seen in the final stages, he'll be keen to make amends here. On a flat stage, he's still the sprinter to beat, and with the last four kilometres of this stage all slightly downhill, he'll have no excuses, especially as his team are in such good form and should be able to support him all the way. [3.00] are fair odds, but there is a worry about crosswinds again, particularly as the stage gets closer to Toulouse. Groenewegen got caught out on Monday and it might be worth waiting to see if he's survived in the front group here before lumping on.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Aside from Groenewegen are the usual crew of would-be sprint champions, including Caleb Ewan ([5.00]), Alexander Kristoff ([30.00]), Peter Sagan ([7.00]), Sonny Colbrelli ([50.00]), Michael Matthews ([40.00]) and Giacomo Nizzolo ([80.00]). And if the crosswinds really play a part again, a rider like Wout van Aert ([60.00]) cannot be discounted. The value call, though, is probably Ewan, who has been ever-present at the front of these sprints.
What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?
Peter Sagan is already rapidly reaching the point where it will be a mathematical impossibility for anyone to overtake him in the Points Competition, meaning he only needs to survive to Paris - without crashing or getting disqualified - to claim the title. He'll get more points on this stage.
Not quite the odds of Sagan, but getting close to that level of favouritism, is Team Ineos' Egan Bernal in the Young Rider competition. Having taken ownership of the White Jersey on Stage 10, it's hard to see how he won't hang on to it - unless he is forced into a super-domestique role at some point, which sees him having to sacrifice his own ambitions for Geraint Thomas. That doesn't look likely to happen, though.
Mainly, though, it's a quiet day in the overall markets, as riders ready themselves for the mountainous delights to come.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
Back Caleb Ewan @ [6.00]