After yesterdays delightful 33/1 winner we return to the Tour with a huge day of climbing culminating with a mountain top finish on Col Du Portet.
It is a stage that backloads all of the climbing to the latter half leaving nearly 100km of flat to be covered prior to nearly 4,500m of climbing to be covered in the final part of the stage.
Two category 1 climbs of testing length precede the monstrous Portet on the historic Bastille Day. French chances of producing a statement win look minimal with best hope David Gaudu having exerted himself to the maximum yesterday.
With only four stages remaining and this being the second last of traversing big mountains it is clear that GC teams will have to make their move today if they are to make a race of it with Tadej Pogacar who enjoys a sizable lead over the field at present.
The Slovenian has looked largely unruffled to date but the lack of strength in his team has meant breakaways have been allowed contest numerous stage wins with UAE happy to mark his direct rivals.
The reasons we do not see this happening today are twofold; the first portion of the stage is flat allowing GC teams to control the time gap more readily as King of the Mountain Point seekers may struggle to get up the road with no climb available as a launchpad. Abetted to this, is the easy day the GC gave themselves yesterday, rolling in 14 minutes behind the stage winner.
Ineos Grenadiers will have to make a play to get Richard Carapaz challenging for the podium. Equally EF Education will be keen to challenge to ensure Rigoberto Uran has a chance to attack the race leader on the final climb.
Both may send men up the road to help later on in the stage or head the peloton to minimize gaps, either way they will be active today as they try to isolate Pogacar early.
Will either man or Jonas Vingegaard be good enough to fend off favourite Pogacar (5/2) to claim the stage? It is hard to see but with some team members to help and with signs on Sunday of a return to form we expect Carapaz to revel in the challenge today and give himself a chance of podium.
The Ecuadorian will love the climbing at altitude and with such a strong team to assist he looks primed to go close at attractive odds and salvage something from what has been an underwhelming tour to date for the big money team.
Richard Carapaz to win Stage 17 of the TdF, 1pt win, 9/1
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