An intriguing Tour has reached Stage 8 without a single breakaway from the peleton succeeding.
Powerful teams have so far chased everything down either to facilitate a sprint finish or for the yellow jersey contenders.
Today’s stage promises a potential change in tack. A rolling stage features two lower categorised climbs before a sharp kick up a category 1 climb shortly before the finish.
This could be ideal for a breakaway. With no sprint of offer, only the yellow jersey teams will be motivated to control the break, and with a monster stage in the offing on Sunday, we expect controlling the break rather than catching it, will be enough.
The stage therefore sets up for a group to get away early, but with the late climbing tests it will need someone of good ascending skills to make it all the way to the line.
Tommy Voeckler is in his last tour and always seems to make a break, but his young team-mate Lilian Calmejane may be worth a closer look. He has had some success in tier 2 of cycling this year, building on a debut Grand Tour stage success at last year’s Vuelta Espana. He is a strong climber, but not one for the high mountains, so a stage like this should suit. He made a break earlier in the tour, and briefly surged out of the pack on the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Calmejane is borderline in being too close to the outright lead – it shouldn’t be a problem, but a second string who is much further behind is the strong man of British breakaway cycling, Steve Cummings. He is the expert in long breakaways and can be lethal when launching from a group in the last 20kms.
He is a strong enough climber that the final ascent shouldn’t be a problem, besides his style will be to clear by then on his own. This is a stage which again looks made to measure.
L Calmejane, 1pt win, 33/1 generally available
S Cummings, 1pt win, 10/1 generally available
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