Tour de France 2019: Stage 16: Time for Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff at Tour de France
Alexander Kristoff always shows his best form late on in a Tour de France
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Groenewegen, Viviani and Ewan are obvious contenders on this sprinter's stage, writes Jack Houghton, but what will they have left after the Pyrenees?

"Although seemingly flat, there is an uncategorised climb 17km out from the finish. This is a potential soloist's dream..."

What's the stage like?

On the face of it, a short stage (at only 177km) that should provide sprinters with their last chance of glory before they get to wrap up the Tour on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday.

It only has one categorised climb, coming midway through the stage, and the final kilometres are slightly downhill.

However, there are a couple of potential complications. First, at the time of writing, the forecast is for mild southerly winds, but if these pick up, there is the possibility of seeing breaks in the peloton again, as we saw on Stage 10.

Second, although seemingly flat, there is an uncategorised climb 17km out from the finish. This is a potential soloist's dream, who might make a bid for individual glory over the top. At the very least, it's a point where anyone who has designs on contesting the final sprint will need to be wary of getting detached.

In the rolling tourist-board infomercial that is the tour de France, this stage will see the peloton cross the Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, which has been closed to traffic for 20 years.

Who are the favourites?

The three best sprinters in the race have been Dylan Groenewegen ([2.88]), Caleb Ewan ([4.00]) and Elia Viviani ([5.50]), and the obvious call is to focus on this trio as the most likely stage winners.

There is a danger in assuming that form from the start of the Tour will easily translate at this late stage, though. Riders have now traversed three mountain ranges, and this stage may be as much about which of the trio has best survived life in the grupetto and have something left to give.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Groenewegen and Viviani are both in teams with GC ambitions, so it's likely that their sprint trains will be diminished, as riders are saved to marshal Steven Kruijswijk and Julian Alaphilippe through the punishing alpine stages to come.

Caleb Ewan is therefore favoured from this trio.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

In the event of crosswinds, or the split loyalties of the sprint teams meaning a breakaway is allowed too much of an advantage, it is possible that we'll see a surprise winner here.

It's also worth keeping an eye on the puncheurs - Greg van Avermaet, Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews - who could use that final uncategorised climb to catapult themselves to a solo win.

Most likely, though, is that a sprinter will take this, and the value bet is Alexander Kristoff at around [18.00]. He seems to cope best with the cumulative fatigue of a three-week Tour, often having his best results in the closing days. He won in Nimes in 2014 late on, and picked up the final sprint in Paris last year.

What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?

If the crosswinds are a factor, we could see gaps among the Yellow Jersey contenders as we did on Stage 10. However, it's more likely that - crashes aside - this will be a quiet day in the GC as riders ready themselves for the Alps to come.

In the Points Competition, expect Peter Sagan to put the contest mathematically out of reach for the other riders by placing highly in the intermediate and final sprints.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

Jack Houghton,

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