Tour de France Stage 20 Tips: Porte and Pogacar time-trial motivated

Richie Porte at Tour de France
Richie Porte has strong historic time-trial form and will be motiavted to go for this stage

A strong set of favourites in the time trial, writes Jack Houghton, where the motivation to take risks might be the deciding factor

"There was a similar time trail in last year's Tour de France that saw some epic miscalculations of effort..."

What's the stage like?

A 36km time trial, representing the last action for the General Classification riders seeking a Yellow Jersey.

It's a puzzling test, with a rolling 30km opening, before a climb up La Planche Des Belles Filles, a 5.7km ascent with an average gradient of 8.5%. This means some riders may attempt to change from a time trail bike to their usual steed at the bottom of the final climb, hoping the time lost in the switch will be more than compensated for by the time gains of a lighter bike on the Category 1 climb.

There was a similar time trail in last year's Tour de France that saw some epic miscalculations of effort. This time trail comes a week later than in 2019, though, which adds another dimension: rider freshness will play a part.

Who are the favourites?

Primoz Roglic (9/52.80) looks a strong prospect for taking the stage, assuming he is fresh enough and has the motivation to ride for a win. He's finished in the top two in more than half of the time trials he has ever contested, and this course - blending the flat and uphill - suits him more than most. Stage 9 of the 2019 Giro d'Italia was like the task he will face here, and he won that easily.

Wout Van Aert (3.84) and Tom Dumoulin (4/15.00) complete the top three in the market, all of them Jumbo-Visma riders. Van Aert has already won four of the 10 time-trials he's contested in his career, but has yet to ride one like this. He's a versatile rider, but the uphill finish must surely dent his ambitions here.

Dumoulin can lay claim (along with Rohan Dennis perhaps) to being the best time trialist in the world in recent years. He's done a terrific job as a super-domestique in this year's race, and might come good here, but there's a suspicion that he's not at the top of his form.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

One doubt in the exemplary time-trial record of Roglic is the Slovenian National Championships, which took place in June of this year, where he was beaten by Tadej Pogacar (12/113.00) by nine seconds. The course there was different, in that it was a steady uphill climb throughout. Presumably, the flat section in the first 30km will advantage Roglic, but at the odds, I'd be prepared to take a risk on Pogacar repeating a win here, especially as he will be motivated to take risks, which Roglic won't.

Michal Kwiatkowski (25/126.00), Max Schachmann (49/150.00) and Pello Bilbao (79/180.00) could all go well at big prices, but they are unlikely to be good enough to claim the win.

Of more interest, also at big odds, is Richie Porte (23/124.00). On past form he is much closer to both Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic than the market might suggest, and given his motivation will be high - he needs to take over a minute-and-a-half over Miguel Angel Lopez to make the podium - he looks value.

What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?

The Mountains Classification is still theoretically up for grabs, with the time taken on the final climb compared for all riders to determine who claims the Category 1 points. Presumably, though, Richard Carapaz will free wheel the flat part of the time trial before turning his effort into only the last 5.9km. The Polka-dot Jersey should be confirmed as his by the day's end.

As for the Yellow Jersey, this stage is unlikely to unseat the top two; however, Porte has a chance of that third spot on the podium.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

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