It's not worth being too clever on this stage, writes Jack Houghton, who sees it being another profitable day for those who follow Tadej Pogacar...
"Tadej Pogacar (3.55/2) is the rightful favourite and the only rider that can be backed with any confidence..."
4 pts Back Tadej Pogacar at 3.55/2
What's the stage like?
It's another short, hard one. At 143.2km and with three categorised climbs - again all packed into the last half of the day - it should provide a dramatic stage for the last General Classification battles before the time trial on Stage 20 can tie up any loose ends.
The climbs here are infamously hard, with the Col d'Aubisque up first and the Hautacam providing the summit finish. Of most interest, though, may be the middle Col de Spandelles, which has never been used in a Tour before. All three climbs have steep gradients and technical descents, and all three provide a platform for attacking riding.
The lesson from Stage 17 is that a breakaway is unlikely to stand a chance, as they won't be allowed enough rope by the Yellow Jersey wannabees.
Who are the favourites?
Without wanting to repeat what was written yesterday, Tadej Pogacar (3.55/2) is the rightful favourite and the only rider that can be backed with any confidence. He will be the most highly motivated to take any time bonuses and looks nigh-on unbeatable in a steep sprint at the end of a long climb.
Jonas Vingegaard (4.03/1) might conceivably get the best of Pogacar, but is more likely to roll over the line in second.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
A case can be made for some breakaway possibles. Nick Schultz (16.015/1) impressed on Stage 10, Enric Mas (30.029/1) often improves towards the end of a three-week stage race, and Chris Froome (60.059/1) showed on Stage 12 that he retains some of his ability and might yet win another stage at a grand tour.
Tipping them would like smack on contrariness, however, as it's hard to see why this stage won't largely be a repeat of Stage 17.
What effect will it have on the overall markets?
One thing that might chance from Stage 17 is that the time gaps may be bigger between the main General Classification contenders. They continue to ride repeated attritional days and cumulative fatigue could yet see an unexpected collapse. This Tour isn't over.
*Odds correct at the time of writing