What does the scene look like?The second day in the Pyrenees winds around the mountain range. It’s less brutal than the first, but in some ways the climbs provide more interesting testing.
A quick double header from Category 1 and 3 climbs comes about halfway through the stage, and while the medium inclines aren’t overwhelming, there are a few steep sections towards the end. All the runners eyeing a long range attack might see it as their chance to get away from it all.
If a breakaway is kept close at hand by the contenders for the yellow jersey, the final climb of the Col de Marie Blanque category 1 will be crucial. More bonus seconds are available at the top, before an 18 km descent to Laruns: where Primoz Roglic won a stage in 2018.
It’s another intermediate stage, with enough to delight both yellow jersey contenders and breakaway hopes, while being perfect for neither. The day will probably be devoted to whether there is a GC contender who fancies an attack on this final climb, knowing that he should be able to maintain an advantage on the finish on the descent. Since the day of rest comes next, top names may be more willing to commit.
Who are the favorites?
Tadej Podacar (COM)[11.00]) was the most impressive rider in the General Classification on Stage 8, riding aggressively to recoup 40 of the seconds lost in his disastrous Stage 7. If the breakaway hadn’t had such an easy lead, Podacar would have won the stage . Assuming he doesn’t feel any ill effects after his efforts, Podacar’s intention will no doubt be to recoup more seconds here. He is a worthy favorite and should be higher in the market than Julian Alaphilippe, who is very skinny at around [5.60].
Among the other hopes of the yellow jersey, Primoz Roglic (COM)[13.00]), Nairo Quintana ([50.00]), Romain Bardet ([80.00]) and Guillaume Martin ([80.00]) seemed the most comfortable on stage 8, first with the pace of research set by Wout Van Aert on the Port of Bales, then on the last climb after the attack on Podacar.
Among these drivers, however, it seems that Roglic and Quintana are more interested in keeping their big efforts until later in the Tour. If Podacar faces competition, then it will probably be from Bardet and Martin. In his early years, Bardet targeted days like this, attacking on any final climb before a descent, and with Podacar, he is the most likely winner here.
Who are the most likely foreigners?
Sometimes we have the impression Thomas De Gendt ([40.00]) and Alessandro De Marchi (50.00) are like horny teenagers in a religious sect that preaches celibacy before marriage: you know that at some point they will try to escape, you just don’t know when. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them make an offer here in Stage 9, but they could wait until later in the Tour, when a more tired peloton is less likely to re-indoctrinate them into the group lanes.
If you are looking for a high priced speculative bet on a breakaway contender, then Davide Formolo ([34.00]) is more interesting. He won a stage at the Dauphine and this course could offer him his best chances to repeat the Tour.
What effect will the scene have on all markets?
This Tour offered few certainties, but there may be one here: this stage will not be pivotal in the Green Jersey competition. Peter Sagan might want to whip himself to overcome the first two ranked climbs with a top group, but he’s more likely to accept that this isn’t a step to extend his lead.
Benoit Cosnefroy I have surprised a few – myself included – by being aggressive on the bigger climbs of Stage 8, and will probably be keen to take maximum points on at least the first three climbs here. He is now joined at the head of the King of the Mountains competition by his teammate, Nans Peters, it will therefore be interesting to see how the hierarchical orders of the teams are decided. With so many points to gain in the high mountains, it’s a competition to watch for now.
As for the yellow jersey, it will probably be another day of fireworks.
* Odds are correct at time of writing