Primož Roglič defends the yellow jersey
Primož Roglič ended the week with half one in every of his Tour de France mission completed — taking the yellow jersey. Now he enters section two: defending that jersey via the various exams and challenges to return.
This isn’t an unfamiliar state of affairs for the Jumbo-Visma rider. Ultimately yr’s Giro d’Italia, he held the chief’s pink jersey for the primary 5 levels of the race, and was perceived to be the de facto chief because the highest-ranked of all the real contenders for the next 10 days, earlier than operating out of steam and fading to an eventual third place end general.
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Three months later on the Vuelta a España, he once more took possession of the general lead, however this time not till later within the race, simply after the primary relaxation day on a stage 10 time trial. Having preserved extra vitality throughout the opening week, he had sufficient left in reserve to defend the crimson jersey all the best way to the race’s end in Madrid.
Thus far, Roglič has replicated his profitable Vuelta trip quite than his extra impulsive method on the Giro. He hasn’t taken the yellow jersey by attacking, however by following all of the essential, not carelessly dropping time, and selecting up the occasional bonus second. That ought to imply he begins the second week comparatively contemporary, and with tons but left to present.
Not like the 2 obvious largest threats to his lead — defending champion and present second general Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), and the on-fire Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) — Roglič is the incorrect aspect of 30. The Slovenian was nonetheless an expert ski-jumper when he was their age, solely taking over biking professionally in 2013, and subsequently is unlikely to have as a few years left on the prime of the game.
Within the type of his life, with an distinctive crew to help him, and completely positioned after a flawless begin to the race, this type of alternative could by no means once more current itself to Roglič. The second of what could possibly be the defining three weeks of his profession awaits.
The battle for the inexperienced jersey intensifies
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) would possibly start the second week in inexperienced, however his maintain on the jersey appears to be like weaker than it ever has earlier than, with Eire’s Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Fast-Step) rising as his essential rival.
Bennett is presently simply seven factors adrift, and appears set to do battle with Sagan on levels 10 and 11, each of which look to be possible bunch finishes. Windy situations would complicate issues on stage 10, given its proximity to the Bay of Biscay coast, however the forecast is just for light breezes, whereas stage 11 options only one, small categorised climb.
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Each of those levels present Bennett an important likelihood to win his first ever Tour de France stage, however whether or not or not he can actually problem for inexperienced could rely upon how he performs on the next levels within the Massif Central. Right here the terrain turns into a lot hillier, with the undulating levels twelve and fourteen specifically trying like precisely the type of roads the place Sagan usually out-manoeuvres his rivals, selecting up factors by entering into breakaways and/or surviving the hills to achieve factors on the finishes.
The competitors would possibly but turn out to be a three-horse race ought to Wout van Aert select to pursue it. The Belgian is presently third within the competitors (27 factors behind Sagan) courtesy of his two bunch dash wins, and would most likely be a shoe-in for victory if he didn’t have Primoz Roglič’s yellow jersey to defend. He isn’t concentrating on the classification, however might turn out to be a contender by default if he rides like he did within the first week.
Alternatives for ambushes within the Massif Central
The climbs could not attain the breathlessly excessive altitudes of the Alps, however the Massif Central area the riders spend a lot of the second week travelling via might nonetheless have a comparably enormous influence on the race.
Some pundits have highlighted stage 13 as essentially the most troublesome of your complete Tour, not a lot for the problem of any single climb, however for the cumulative altitude acquire from the relentlessly rolling roads. Phases 12 and 14 won’t be as troublesome, however are nonetheless challengingly hilly, every ending with stings within the tail that might invite late assaults — the class two Suc au Could 26km from the end of stage 12, and a brief 1400 metre uphill positioned simply 7.5km from the road on stage 14.
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How will the yellow jersey contenders method these levels? The truth that the riders should wait till the ultimate stretch of the Puy Mary climb the place stage 13 finishes till reaching its hardest, 11 per cent gradients would possibly normally point out that holding again till then could be the smart technique. However the intense problem of all the things that comes earlier than the ultimate climb would possibly encourage anybody with good legs to place the hammer down early, understanding that massive positive factors could possibly be remodeled anybody having even a barely unhealthy day.
The opposite two levels are much less prone to see strikes made by the favourites, however they must be on their toes — end up distanced right here for no matter purpose and you might discover chasing again on very troublesome, whereas a shock ambush from a well-organised crew could possibly be very efficient on such rolling roads.
With six riders nonetheless inside 44 seconds of Roglič, and one other six inside 2-31, the GC continues to be in want of a shake-up, and a few could sense an inviting alternative to take a few of these riders out of rivalry through aggressive racing in these levels.
The levels all through week two look very conducive to breakaways, which ought to imply we see loads of probably the most entertaining sights in biking — Julian Alaphilippe out on the assault.
Together with others rider like, maybe, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and stage six winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), he’s one in every of a number of stylish breakaway specialists who’re possible to make use of the rolling terrain to hunt levels, and presumably factors within the nonetheless wide-open king of the mountains classification too.
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Simply because Alaphilippe hasn’t bought the shape to trip for GC doesn’t imply he’s not able to placing in a star flip, as evidenced by his explosive assault to win stage two in Good. Simply look again to his barnstorming efficiency on the 2018 Tour, the place he attacked relentlessly to win one stage within the Alps, one other within the Pyrenees, and the king of the mountains classification, all with the panache we all know and love the Frenchman for.
Having fallen out of GC rivalry on the Peyresourde on Saturday, he’s unburdened by the necessity to trip cautiously to guard a excessive general rating, which ought to free him up to reply to all his pure attacking instincts.
Having gained two levels in each of the final Excursions de France, can he turn out to be the primary rider since Mark Cavendish (2011-13), and the primary rider who isn’t a bunch sprinter since Miguel Indurain (1991-1993), to take action in three successive Excursions?
Col du Grand Colombier
Simply earlier than Monday’s second relaxation day marks the top of the center week of the Tour, the riders will make their first return to the Alps with a fearsome mountainous stage based mostly across the Grand Colombier.
Having already visited the Alps with the climb to Orcières-Merlette on the finish of stage 4, this would be the race’s second go to to the Alps. However whereas that stage solely contained one real mountain, which itself wasn’t within the highest rank of problem, stage 15 can be a correct mountain stage, with three enormous climbs packed into the final 75km.
Every of those three ascents consists of a special manner up the Grand Colombier. First showing on the Tour de France in 2012, it’s frequently utilized in a lot of French stage races, and the Tour organisers this yr are so keen on it that they’re sending the riders up it thrice in the present day.
The primary two occasions up are meant to put on the riders down and scale back the peloton to simply the very best climbers, whereas the third and closing ascent would be the hardest of all of them. At 17.4km, it will likely be longer than something they’ve needed to deal with up to now, which means that solely the real Grand Tour specialists will nonetheless be in rivalry for a excessive GC rank by the highest of it.