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Tour de France 2019: Stage 8: It’s anyone’s guess

Tour de France 2019: Stage 8: It’s anyone’s guess

What’s the stage like?

It may not have the big-named mountains, but Stage 8 is, in many ways, the most interesting of this year’s Tour. Meandering through the Beaujolais region, organisers have delighted in making it as tricky as possible, having riders account for 3,800 metres of vertical gain by the time they have travelled the 200km from Macon to Saint-Etienne.

Seven of the climbs are classified, but this fact does not do the ascending justice: there are a dozen or more notable climbs, none of them long, but many of them steep. And the roads are narrow, too, which will add to the fun. Slightly anticlimactically perhaps, the stage ends with a short, steep downhill, before levelling out for a flat last kilometre.

It’s hard to predict which way this will go. If a puncheur survives until the end – think van Avermaet or Alaphilippe – then they will sprint to a facile win. But if a GC team decide to capitalise on the ascending, anyone with sprinting aspirations will be dispatched long before they can use their speed. And there’s always the breakaway, who might be allowed the freedom to take this.

Who are the favourites?

Julian Alaphilippe ([10.00]) is the slight favourite in most lists, but his long odds confirm the uncertainty this stage brings. The conventional wisdom used to be that the hilliness of a stage like this would be too much for Alaphilippe, but then that wisdom looked shaky when he was still among the main contenders on the ascent of La Planche des Belles Filles on Stage 6, and evaporated completely when he then attacked on it.

If the breakaway is caught, Alaphilippe is an obvious contender, but the stage is just too complicated to take those kinds of odds on any rider.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

My guess is that other punchy riders like Greg van Avermaet and Peter Sagan won’t be able to reach the final stages. My guess is also that the GC teams won’t be interested in making this a day of reckoning and will be happy to let a breakaway go. It’s all just guessing, though, which is why stakes should be kept low in any bets made on this stage. For interest, a small back of Thomas de Gendt at around [30.00] is recommended. He is known to have designs on the polka-dot jersey, so will likely be allowed in a breakaway, and has done well on these kinds of stages in the past.

What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?

A Yellow Jersey contender could see themselves tumbling out of contention if having an off day, but the main interest is likely to be the fight for the Mountains Classification. There are loads of points on offer here and we’ll start to get a clearer picture of the relative merits of the likes of Tim Wellens, Giulio Ciccone and Dylan Teuns, all of whom could challenge de Gendt for a stage win, too.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

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