Tour de France 2017 Stage 18 on Thursday 20th July is the final stage where the climbers get to do their thing. The stage should see a huge GC battle on the final climb.
Great stage on Wednesday – that final descent was sketchy in places! Rather the riders than me. Well done Primoz Roglic. Hard luck to Marcel Kittel crashing and abandoning the Tour in what was looking like an epic finale to the Green Jersey battle.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 18 – Profile
The profile for stage 18 is what cycling fans expect to see for most Grand Tour mountain stages. Climbs through the stage that more difficult towards the end and finishing at a summit!
Stage 18 is 179.5 kms in length from Briancon to Izoard. It is the second of two Alpine stages in the 2017 race.
The first 52 kms of the stage are undulating but fairly easy. The first climb starts at 56 kms – Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées (cat 3). The climb is short at 3.9 kms and averages 5.2%. A short descent follows before the roads start to rise gently for the next 50 kms. The Intermediate Sprint comes at 91.5 kms so look for Michael Matthews to feature once more in the Green Jersey battle.
The stage really begins on the run in to the Col de Vars. The climb starts at the 120 km point and is a category 1 climb of 9.3 kms at 7.5%, Look for the GC teams to be cycling fast on to the base of this climb to get their men into prime position. From the summit the riders descend for around 20 kms. This is a fairly tricky descent into Guillestre (at 148 kms).
The final 30.5 kms of the stage are all uphill. The gradient is gradual to the base of the Col d’Izoard. This is the final HC climb of the Tour. It is 14.1 kms long at 7.3% – another brutal climb for the riders. Scarily, the top 10 kms average more than 10%. There is the potential for the GC riders to gain or lose a lot of time on this climb. The race organisers should get the prime time blockbuster type of action on this stage that makes for great TV. They hope a Frenchman wins!
Tour de France 2017 Stage 18 – Favourites
I will start with the three riders that I think are the strongest in the race. Then I will assess the chances of the other GC riders.
The Big Three
Chris Froome (Team Sky) was able to counter and mark throughout stage 17. He has that luxury because he is race leader and is expected to gain more time on stage 20 as he is the best ITT rider. Froome gained some bonus seconds on stage 17 moving 4 seconds further in front of Bardet. With Aru dropping time on Wednesday it looks like the GC battle is down to three riders now. Froome can follow the same tactics again up the Col d’Izoard. I feel he is desperate for a stage win – that would be the icing on the cake for a 4th race win. Froome is stage favourite at 4.0 – a win only option.
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) was aggressive on the final climb on Wednesday attacking on a number of occasions inside the top 3 kms on the climb. Sadly, for Bardet he was unable to sustain any of the attacks for more than 100 metres. Froome was able to lead a select group back to Bardet on most occasions. Bardet made the key attack to drop Aru and Martin on stage 17 and he looks like he wants to win another stage and possibly the Tour. I like his odds at 6.50.
Rigoberto Uran (Canondale-Drapac) looked like he was content to follow the attacks by Bardet and Martin on stage 17. I’m not sure if he has the legs to attack or whether he is waiting to go all in on the Col d’Izoard on Thursday. If he wishes to win the race he must get in front of Froome on this stage and gain about a minute. Uran did gain 2 seconds on Froome and 6 seconds on Bardet on stage 17 via bonus seconds. Uran is available at 5.50 for the stage win. I’m still not convinced he can beat both Bardet and Froome on this type of finish.
The Next Three
Fabio Aru (Astana) showed real signs of cracking on the final climb on stage 17. He was dropped multiple times and I don’t think this bodes well for stage 18. It looks like Aru is showing the first signs on fatigue and lack of mountain team support. Aru and Martin were distanced towards the top of the finale on stage 17 and lost more time on the descent. Aru is now 53 seconds down and at best I think he is fighting for 4th place with Landa. He is as big as 19.0 for the stage win. Not for me.
Dan Martin (Quick Step-Floors) tried to escape from the front group a few times on Wednesday inside the top 5 kms of the final climb. He gained about 10 seconds maximum but was brought back by Bardet and Sky. I fear he is too far down on GC now to win the race. I don’t think he can win on the Col d’Izoard and you feel he would need the win and bonus seconds to stand any chance of a podium place overall. Like Aru he is available at 19.0. The EW works but not for me.
Mikel Landa (Team Sky) looks like a diesel locomotive on the climbs. He closes gaps at his own pace but does so with a relentless drive. Landa is not the sort of climber who has an explosive gear to jump away from his rivals. I fear that is the reason he cannot win stage 18. Some of the others in this group go have that explosive ability and are better suited to win on the Col d’Izoard. I feel Landa could be a canny choice for the stage at odds around 10.0.
The Non-GC Threat
Warren Barguil (Sunweb) has famously told the French media he can never win the Tour. Well young man, based on your results over the last 10 days I think you can. Barguil has all but wrapped up the KOTM Jersey. He also has a stage win, gone close on two other stages, is in the top 10 on GC and done some amazing turns for team-mate Michael Matthews. Barguil has one advantage over the others in this section. If he is in the front group on the Col d’Izoard he might be given the freedom to attack without being covered. He is too far down on GC to threaten the podium places and odds of 11.0 have EW value too.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 18 – Outsiders
NOTE – I’m convinced the stage 18 winner comes from the top group. The stage is crucial in the GC fight and the best climbers will want to contest the win.
This is really a take your pick from a group of riders but all have flaws – Contador and Quintana have tried to be attacking with varying degrees of success. Ultimately, they have failed on the toughest slopes when the GC riders have gone on the attack. Yates and Meintjes have been closer to the front as evidence by their GC places but they too tend to lose time on the final climb of the day.
I’ve mentioned a number of other riders in my other mountain stage previews – some have been really active like Ulissi and De Gendt. The thing is they don’t have the legs to match the top riders. I feel a bet on anyone other than the big names is a waste on the stage.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 18 – Tips
Back Chris Froome to win stage 18 with a 2.0/10 stake at 4.0 with Paddy Power.
Back him here:
PLACED – 3RD – Bet on Romain Bardet to win stage 18 with a 1.5/10 stake EW (1/4 odds top 3)at 6.5 with Bet365.
WON – Back Serge Pauwels to beat Emanuel Buchmann head-to-head with a 3.0/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365.