Chris Froome proved to everybody what we already knew in the mountain time trial on Thursday when he powered through the course to demolish the field and all but wrap up the GC. He only needs to avoid catastrophe and he will win another Tour de France title. We’re back to the real roads on Friday for Stage 19 which is the penultimate Alpine stage of the race and the last mountain top finish.
Stage 19 – The Profile
Stage 19 begins at Albertville and finishes up Mont Blanc. The stage is a short and sharp one like the finishing stages to Grand Tours tend to be these days. In total it is just 146kms but there are four categorised climbs and another one to begin with which isn’t categorised although it probably should be.
There is a HC climb, two category 1 climbs and a category two so there is a lot of uphill about this stage although the riders do get some solace from the lengthy descents.
The stage begins uphill for the first 8.5km and then after 24km of descent the first categorised climb sees the riders going up the Col de la Forclaz de Montmin, a category one climb. The biggest climb of the day is the 12.5km trek up Montee de Bisanne. The stage finishes up the tough ascent of Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc where we can expect plenty of attacks by those chasing the many things still to be decided.
With the stage beginning uphill this is going to be a frantic start and we expect a serious breakaway to be formed and then it is up to the GC teams to chase it down. We know Team Sky aren’t going to do the chasing because their man Chris Froome only needs to start upright but they will probably set enough of a pace to make attacking difficult so we see this as a day for the breakaway.
Chris Froome is a 4/1 favourite for the stage but he has already said he is going to ride safely from here on in and those aren’t the words of a man who is going to belt up Mont Blanc to pick up another stage win. He has done all he needs to do and now it is just about covering attacks.
Richie Porte is the second best climber in the race and he is eyeing up the podium in Paris but he doesn’t need to make a move until the final climb and a breakaway will be away and gone by then so we don’t see him winning. If this does become a GC battle up the last climb then beating Froome will be difficult anyway.
Ilnur Zakarin is the third favourite for the stage and he is our idea of a potential winner although he is a little short for us to back. He has already claimed his stage win and now it might be a bit more about preserving himself for the Olympics although if he does feel good then this mountain top finish is ideal for him.
Fabio Aru surprised a lot of people in the time trial on Thursday and he looks really good at the minute. He won’t be allowed in a breakaway so he can only win a GC battle but as good as he looks right now we don’t see him riding away from Froome.
Rafal Majka is certain to be in the breakaway and as a result he is our main pick for this stage. We know he will make the break because of the mountain points on offer and indeed he can sew up the polka dot jersey during this stage but his team Saxo-Tinkoff have mentioned they want to get him a stage win so he might well be given the luxury of a teammate up the road to help him too.
Jarlinson Pantano has been jiggy in the mountain stages recently having shot away from Majka a couple of stages ago and finished second to Zakarin on Wednesday. He will probably go again if he has the legs and that gives him a chance but you would think he’ll be feeling it after some heavy stages.
Others to consider
Romain Bardet is going nicely in the race and if this does become a GC battle he could try and spring a surprise as we approach the line but while he can put time into some of his podium rivals it is hard to see him winning the stage.
Pierre Rolland rode a decent time trial which makes us think he might make a move on Friday but he hasn’t had the legs in the race so far and we would at least need to see him at his best before we can get involved in him.
Vincenzo Nibali has gone off on his own in this tour a couple of times and we think he will make a move at some point although with the descent on Saturday’s finish that stage might be the better one for him so we’ll sit off him now.
We now know that Nairo Quintana is a busted flush in this tour. He faded badly on Wednesday and offered little in the time trial on Thursday and it would take a significant turnaround for him to be able to do anything here. If he has the legs he’ll attack as Movistar want the team title but we can’t see the attack coming from him.
We’re all over Rafal Majka as our main bet for this stage but it would be a little foolish to go into what is likely to be a breakaway stage with a number of riders one-handed so to speak so we’ll throw a few darts at potential breakaway candidates too.
In the Pyrenees we saw Daniel Navarro try to get up the road and I think he will do the same here. Nicolas Edet rode a good time trial on Thursday and Cofidis want a piece of the limelight in the next two days so they could well send a couple of men into the breakaway and assuming Navarro is one of those he will have to be taken seriously by all in the break.
Navarro was third in Stage 7 and fourth in Stage 8 and then he was third again up Mont Ventoux and he was in the breakaway in Stage 15 as well so the Spaniard is clearly climbing well and he wants a stage win so we’ll have him on our side here too.
Serge Pauwels is a breakaway specialist who has been close to the win a couple of times on this tour without quite getting his nose in front. He was cruelly denied by Thomas de Gendt up Mont Ventoux and he was sixth in Stage 15. He was visibly annoyed at missing the break in Stage 17 so he will be out for revenge here. At 66/1 we can include him too.
Our final pick is a man who is finishing this tour extremely well in the Croatian from Lampre Merida, Kristijan Durasek. Durasek was fourth in Stage 17 and just outside the top 10 in Stage 15 so he is getting into the breaks and with legs likely to be heavy from those who have been competitive for over two weeks he might have a slight advantage on his side here. He is climbing well and at three figures we can risk a small bet on him.
Back R.Majka to win Stage 19 (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 15.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-4)
Back D.Navarro to win Stage 19 (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-4)
Back S.Pauwels to win Stage 19 (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-4)
Back K.Durasek to win Stage 19 (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-4)
Back them here: