With the next two days of racing likely to decide the podium at this year's Tour, writes Jack Houghton, expect the main contenders to attack
"Richard Carapaz (11.0010/1) and Team Ineos have been aggressive of late as they attempt to dislodge others from podium spots..."
What's the stage like?
Bastille Day - a public holiday in France - where crowds expectantly await a French victor but are usually disappointed. It's often a humdinger route, though, and this year is no exception.
178km in total, the first 120km of which is largely flat, the stage has a brutal end, with three Categorised climbs in the final third: the Peyresourde (13km at 7%); the Col d'Azet (7.4km at 8.3%); and the Col du Portet (16km at 8.7%, but with steeper ramps in its early sections).
It's a climber's day that might reward - but could punish - anyone attacking early.
Who are the favourites?
Tadej Pogacar (4.30100/30) is the obvious favourite and, if he has retained his form of earlier in the Tour - especially that demonstrated on Stage 8 - would win this with relative ease. The nervousness with backing Pogacar remains with these stages, though: there is little to be gained for him riding aggressively, and he is as likely to sit on others' wheels as he is to attack.
Jonas Vingegaard (8.007/1) has looked comfortable defending his third spot on the General Classification, and is the only rider to have put Pogacar in any kind of trouble on this Tour so far. However, given his time trialing strength, he's unlikely to be especially aggressive here, so those odds look short, especially as he has yet to experience the third week of a Grand Tour at the front end of the race.
Richard Carapaz (11.0010/1) and Team Ineos have been aggressive of late as they attempt to dislodge others from podium spots, whilst also building up enough of a cushion for Carapaz to maintain his position in the penultimate-day time trial, where he is likely to lose more time. This is no guarantee of a stage victory for Carapaz, but it does mean that we can be certain of his motivation. It's also worth bearing in mind that Ineos riders often peak in the third week of these Grand Tours.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Nairo Quintana (20.0019/1) and Dan Martin (50.0049/1) both have past form on these mountains, but both have looked fatigued in their attempts in recent days and are likely best bypassed.
Rigoberto Uran (20.0019/1) would be fancied, but his second-place overall means he will be given no freedom to attack, and he hasn't looked like he has a way of dislodging his main rivals on individual stages.
A better bet at big odds, then, is Miguel Angel Lopez (26.0025/1), who has had a quiet Tour so far and will be targeting one of the next two stages if he plans to take any success away from it: he likes high altitude climbs, and can be expected to go well on the final Col du Portet here.
What effect will it have on the overall markets?
This is all about the Yellow Jersey. By the end of these next two stages, we should have a near-certain view of the Tour's final podium. Expect fireworks.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Jack Houghton’s Tour de France 2021 P&L: