The Tour takes a respite today after two mammoth days in the Alps which look to have defined this Tour as another for Chris Froome. He once again held the aggressive Romain Bardet and the docile Rigoberto Uran on the final climb of the Izoard, retaining a narrow lead that he looks likely to defend with ease in Saturday’s individual time trial.
Today’s rolling stage features three small climbs as the riders descend to the flatlands, with a near 40km run-in to a potential sprint finish.
With Kittel, Cavendish, Sagan and Lemaire all now eliminated one way or another, the door opens for some of the other sprinters and it seems likely that their teams will do all they can to bring the race back together for a closing cavalry charge.
Michael Matthews has the green jersey, but like Greg Van Avermaet, and perhaps John Dekenkolb they may prefer a stiffer finish.
A test of pure speed looks more like to suit German veteran Andre Greipel, sulky French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, rising Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen, mercurial Italian Sonny Colbrelli and perennial near-miss merchant Edvald Boassen Hagen.
Of the group, it is EBH who has looked in great form and was arguably unlucky not to beat Matthews a few days ago. He is more than capable of handling the small climbs, looks to have speed in his legs, and has a strong team around him who have been itching to register a stage success.
He can administer some Grevious Bookie Harm and some timely success as the Tour approaches conclusion.
Recommendation: To win Stage 19, Edvald Boassen Hagen, 1pt win, 7/1 generally available
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