We don’t have to look very hard to find the key question for the Tour as we come into a much-needed second rest day. Very simply, who is going to win the race? This thread gives us a chance to reflect on the riders’ performances so far and argue about the racing still to come.
It is hard to think of a recent Tour where the general classification was more finely balanced between so many potential winners.
- Julian Alaphilippe
- Geraint Thomas +1.35
- Steven Kruijswijk +1.47
- Thibaut Pinot +1.50
- Egan Bernal +2.02
- Emanuel Buchmann +2.14
- Mikel Landa +4.54
In other words, we have a surprise leader 95 seconds ahead of a favourite, with the next five riders separated by thirty-nine seconds. There are, I think, six possible winners of the Tour.
The last week of racing
- Monday – day of rest
- Tuesday – a flat 177km loop to and from Nimes.
- Wednesday – a tricky, hilly 200km run into Gap. Unlikely to be decisive but could catch someone out.
- Thursday – First of the Alps stages, finishing with the HC duo of Izoard and Galibier and then a downhill run to Valloire. Toughest of the remaining stages, probably.
- Friday – Meat in the Alpine sandwich, five categorised climbs including the HC Iseran. Finishes on a tricky run-in to Tignes.
- Saturday – Just 130km but tough, with Roselend, Longefoy and the long slog up to Val Thorens for a mountain-top finish at 2,365m.
- Sunday – the usual processional stage in Paris.
Put another way, there’s two easy days, one tricky day, and three tough days. Still plenty of time for things to change.
How do these guys win?
Alaphilippe: He needs to use the rest day to get rested, and to see Enric Mas recover from whatever ails him to provide some support. He needs to keep riding brilliantly and limit his losses, and he needs to hope the other leaders don’t attack him too much. His biggest advantage may be that Jens is convinced he can’t win it. I agree with Jens, which is also very good news.
Thomas: He needs to see Alaphilippe crack without losing time to anyone else himself. With such narrow margins, he could usefully find his 2018 finishing kick and start grabbing bonus seconds. Seems a lot more acheivable than it did on Saturday evening.
Kruijswijk: Needs to hope there aren’t any snow banks in the Alps. More seriously, he needs to keep doing what he’s doing, climbing with the best, and hope that he finds an opportunity to attack. He’s blessed with a team riding exceptionally well.
Pinot: Looks like the best climber in the race at the moment. If he maintains his form from this weekend finding fifteen seconds on Thomas is feasible. He needs his team support to isolate Alaphilippe again and provide late support. Needs to hope he doesn’t get caught out in any more echelons.
Bernal: Almost able to stay with Pinot on Sunday, he remains very close on GC without having yet shown any signs of being a plausible winner. Needs to regain his electric form of earlier in the year when he hits the Alps, and win any political battles with Thomas.
Buchmann: Has done brilliantly to stay in touch but will have to have the rides of his life for the final week to find time on all five of the guys ahead of him.
A space to throw in some of the guys who’ve ignited the Tour. This list is far from complete, so do put in your own suggestions.
Wout van Aert: Heal fast, young man. You’ve been a superstar all year but goodness me, that stage win was impressive.
David Gaudu: The key domestique for the most impressive rider in the mountains, he is barely old enough to drink in some places. We’ve known for a while he’s an outrageous talent, but he’s coming of age on the biggest stage of all.
Simon Yates: With Adam faltering, the other brother has grabbed two stages and may not be done yet. The 2018 Vuelta winner is awfully good riding uphill.
Leonard Kamna: Where did this weekend come from? I guess he’s motivated again, and back to being a rider with a very bright future.
Who wins the 2019 Tour?
This poll is closed