Cycling: The Defining Moment?

The first Pyrenean stage of the Tour sees a series of large climbs, including the hors category Port de Bales, before the steep final dual ascent of the regularly used Col de Peyresourde and a final kick up to Peyragudes.

This was a climb Chris Froome used as a springboard to stage and race success in 2016, and he has looked in dominant mood.  He will be keen to stamp his authority on the race and allow for a more defensive strategy in the stages still to come.  To do that he will need to put some time into the uncomfortably close Fabio Aru, and the aggressive Romain Bardet.

We expect to see fireworks from Froome on the final climb.

A legitimate question for stage betting is whether the yellow jersey will grab stage success or will a breakaway have already mopped up that honour.

We will have a breakaway, and King of the Mountains leader Warren Barguil is bound to be in it to protect the jersey in the early climbs, as will rival Thibault Pinot, and possibly Pierre Rolland.  They may contest the early climbs, but if a breakaway is to go all the way it may be a rider who sits more conservatively in this group and waits for the final climb that can take the stage.

Thomas de Gendt has winning form on this hill and looked to be preserving energy when his winning chance went on Sunday, whilst Jarlinson Pantano was a serial breakaway and stage winner in last year’s tour and could be let off the leash now that team leader Alberto Contador’s podium chances look much diminished.

This may be the mountain stage in which to back Froome whilst he still plays the role of aggressor.  It’s worth having a card in the breakaway as well, and for all that Barguil is guaranteed a presence there, Pantano is a more appealing price and has the fresher legs.

Recommendations:  To win Stage 12:

Chris Froome, 1pt win, 11/2 generally available

Jarlinson Pantano, 0.5pts each way, 66/1 generally available

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