Given the dramas of the opening week, it's hard to read what will unfold on this stage, writes Jack Houghton, so it's worth keeping the stakes small
"There are several who could win this, provided the main contenders are content to give them the space to..."
What's the stage like?
The race hits the Alps. It's not the hardest mountain day we'll see this year, but the last third packs a punch, with three Category One climbs coming in the final 50km. A couple of smaller categorised climbs precede that hard-hitting finale.
A favourite Tour ascent, the Colombiere makes its 24th appearance, and will see riders tackling 9% plus gradients for 7.5km. That isn't especially brutal by professional cycling standards, but it will be the final punishment on an attritional day: what's left of the peloton will be wrung out by the time they hit the climb.
Bonus seconds are available atop the Colombiere, before a fast descent into the finish. Assuming a breakaway isn't allowed to survive, expect there to be attacks on that final climb, much like the one orchestrated by Julian Allaphilippe in 2018 on the same final 40km.
Who are the favourites?
It's a very open stage, but given his history on the parcours, it's no surprise to see Julian Alaphilippe the favourite at around 10.009/1. Those odds look about right, but it's hard to assess the impact that the arduous day he had on Stage 7 will have on him here. Also, his victory in 2018 was helped, in part, by the element of surprise: there was a feeling this level of climbing was beyond him. The peloton will be under no such illusions three years on.
Tadej Pogacar (11.0010/1) is an obvious choice, too, but the General Classification is difficult to read as it stands, and it's unclear whether Pogacar will feel the need to ride aggressively here. There's a good chance he'll mark the more established Yellow Jersey hopefuls, following their moves rather than hunting down a stage win, so those odds are a little skinny, although they'll look massive if his motivation is there.
Of the favourites, Richard Carapaz (14.0013/1) has the most to gain - especially when it comes to collecting the bonus seconds at the top of the Colombiere. He was active on Stage 7 and is likely the rider of which we can be most certain of his intentions.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
There are several who could win this, provided the main contenders are content to give them the space to. Pello Bilbao (22.0021/1), Ion Izagirre (30.0029/1), Simon Yates (30.0029/1), Nairo Quintana (32.0031/1), and Warren Barguil (60.0059/1) all have the pedigree.
However, the day's very openness is probably why we should look down the market for an outsider of value. Valentin Madouas (100.0099/1) will want to go well on his local hills, but the best bet is likely Vincenzo Nibali (100.0099/1), who will like the descent into the finish and has started to show his best form.
What effect will it have on the overall markets?
After this stage and Sunday's summit-finish into Tignes, we should start to have a clearer view of the race's ongoing narrative, and a better understanding around who will try to challenge Pogacar and how they intend to attempt it.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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