And so Stage 17 developed exactly as expected up until the last 2km when our pick Primoz Roglic did not react to an attack from Miguel Angel Lopez and never looked like pulling the small deficit back.
It showed a lack of experience from Roglic who seemed as it turned out, unnecessarily preoccupied with Tadej Pogocar. The end result being SuperMAL taking the stage which hurt, having come close to plumping for him initially.
We’ll dust ourselves off and focus on a thrilling Profile for Stage 18 when there is very little by way of flat ground. With so many undulations culminating in tough climbs its the last chance for so many teams to claim a stage victory.
A breakaway looks an absolute certainty and it will require a rider with great climbing legs along with an ability to descend with a treacherous final run in the offing.
4 categorised climbs, with two Category 1’s, precede the testing Montée du Plateau des Glières, an HC climb which although only 6km in length averages over 11.5% gradient. A truly brutal test on the back of what comes before.
Marc Hirschi has enjoyed a breakout tour and is sure to be keen to get up the road with other Polka Dot Jersey point seekers – Pierre Roland, Nans Pieters and indeed Richard Carapaz could roll the dice for the third day in a row.
However the Bahrain McLaren team looked in determined mood yesterday as they pummeled the field over the two climbs only for GC hope Mikel Landa to blow up.
It leaves them looking to a stage win salvage mission and although Woet Poels would be considered at a big price his rib injury is still of concern. Matej Mohoric climbed impressively for a large portion of the day and he must be worth a chance to repeat the feat today given his incredible descending skills.
Our other consideration is Jesus Herrada of Cofidis, another team who have to muster something to make the tour a success. He is a superb climber and will be given licence to stage hunt. He has a grand tour stage win from the Veulta last year on almost identical terrain and has shown glimpses of form over the past few weeks to go in as part of the staking plan.
The GC action should be further down the road and do not be surprised if Lopez is emboldened to try something from long range to try and pull his way toward the top of the standings.
Matej Mohoric to win Stage 18 of TdF, 0.5pts each way, 300/1
Jesus Herrada to win Stage 18 of TdF, 1pt win, 80/1
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