Regrettably, I find myself doing this little introductory part to a preview without having a reality show to reference. I suppose I could start aping Love Island but then, know your audience Conor. No, here we are ahead of a decisive time-trial and I have no cloak of trash reality to coat my observations in. On we go then, I suppose.
I drafted this stage as soon as I got the chance in our Viewers’ Guide and there is a good reason for that — a summit finish is not usually a place to gain a minute or more on your opponents but stage thirteen is, without doubt. There’s a number of things to expect here: a clarification of the INEOS pecking order, Mikel Landa deciding to go stage-hunting and a condensation of the GC in terms of riders as it expands in terms of time. There will be very few riders within two minutes of the yellow jersey after this.
Amy BC’s Wine of the Day
Make up a time-trial drinking game and drink along. Any recommendations, Amy?
Stage 13: Domaine Elian Da Ros,Chante Coucou 2010
Terroirs says: The Côtes du Marmandais is one of south west France’s lesser known appellation immediately east of Bordeaux. Back in the 70’s Elian da Ros’ father was a farmer who grew tomatoes, cereals and tobacco and who also had a small vineyard. The grapes were then sent to the local coop. At a very early age Elian dreamt of being a vigneron and producing his own wine. It is then at the tender age of 14 that he went on to study viticulture and oenology at the local school.
From 1992 to 1997 Élian learned his profession at the emblematic domaine Zind-Humbrecht, in Alsace. “Léonard Humbrecht was my master and remains it”, he declares. As he came back to his father’s vineyard in 1997 in the village of Cocumont, Élian set out to work in a different manner and applied the skills he learned. He first of all built a cellar in order to make his own wine. 1998 saw his first vintage.
What happens, and who wins?
I’d describe the twenty-seven kilometre course as “flat enough.” It’s rolling but there’s not enough in it to make this anything but a pure time-trial. It’s of a length that a GC contender on a bad day will lose about two minutes to his best rival. Weak time-triallists like Quintana and Martin won’t have their Tour ruined but will be very much in damage-limitation mode.
There will of course be a two-fold battle on stage thirteen; a battle for the stage and a battle in the GC with the two very much intertwined. Rohan Dennis abandoned the Tour on stage twelve, robbing this stage of a favourite so without him, Dumoulin or Campanaerts the stage is missing the world’s top three time-triallists and therefore is pretty much open for whoever can and will stake a claim. Geraint Thomas may well start as favourite. He’s probably going to be a respectable amount of time ahead of Bernal in the GC at the end of the day which is going to make things very difficult indeed for the Colombian. Tony Martin is riding and although the time when he dominated the time-trial scene is long past (he hasn’t won a race against the clock in which non-Germans were allowed to compete since 2016) it looks like he is still one of the best time-triallists left in the Tour. His team mate Wout van Aert won the closest analogue to this stage: the Dauphiné test but that was a very weak field — he beat Van Garderen into second and a crippled Dumoulin into third. He’s a top contender for this stage but far from a slam-dunk. Chad Haga won the ITT at the Giro and is a seriously underrated pick. Nelson Olivera and Michal Kwiatkowski were fourth and fifth in worlds last year and I’d give Kwiatkowski a real chance at the win if he were let off the leash by INEOS. My pick for the stage is also an INEOS rider and obviously there is the caveat that he could be made to simply dial in a thirty kilometre ride but Jonathan Castroviejo is the right man to win this stage if given the chance.
In the GC battle Thomas will take half a minute to forty seconds on Bernal, with Kruijswijk as his biggest challenger. The rest of the guys in the top ten will fall a good bit further back.
Green will obviously remain with Sagan and white with Bernal. Alaphilippe retained yellow on stage twelve but if he had been dropped at a pace that saw all eight INEOS riders roll in together he wouldn’t have deserved to hold it. Tomorrow will be a bigger test: to retain the yellow jersey he needs to lose no more than five seconds every two kilometres against Thomas. On his form I think he’ll stay another day. There are no KOM points to be had and we’ll have to wait till Saturday to see who will challenge Wellens.