The Tour looks to be cranked up a gear on Stage 12 when the peloton take on the first mountain stage of this years tour. Two Category 1 climbs await but given that the finale is a 20km descent and the Individual TT awaits on Friday the GC may play it cautiously with so many tests over the weekend.
We truly do not know if the breakaway will be allowed a long leash and it depends on the proximity of its contingent to the Yellow Jersey. Julian Alaphillipe will be determined to hold onto the lead for as long as he can and so the prospects of those close on the GC will be hampered as a result.
All that being said, the profile itself will rule out many with its testing climb, and then rapid cascade to the end. Picking a rider who ticks the boxes in both categories is a good place to start and the likes of George Bennett and Michael Woods are sure to be keen to give it a roll of the dice.
Warren Barguil has yet to come to the fore but given he is only 4 minutes off GC he may not be given the leverage and may have to wait until the weekend to kick off his Polka dot Jersey challenge.
One man who can climb with the best of them and descend better than all is Vincenzo Nibali. The Shark has clearly given up hope of the GC and tactically lost a lot of time on Stage 11 surely in attempt to get licence for hunting a stage win as they enter the Pyrenees.
The Italian was in solid form in the Giro and knows now that his best chance of success in the Tour is through a stage win. With the GC potentially keeping their powder dry, Thursdays stage looks prime real estate for Nibali to go for gold.
Another rider we considered was Pello Bilbao but given Astana made a mess of looking after Jakob Fugslang a couple of days ago he may well be on lieutenant steering duty tomorrow to avoid a repeat. If it were all to come back together Adam Yates and Thibaut Pinot could well go in search of the vital bonus seconds on offer.
Vincenzo Nibali to win Stage 12, 1pt win, 16/1 (Generally available)
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