Primoz Roglic lives to fight another day in the yellow jersey as the peloton enters the 175km route from Meribel to La Roche-sur-Foron on Thursday’s stage 18. The final day in the mountains will surely be a harsh test of climbing and endurance ability for the peloton with four categorised climbs and over 4000m of climbing. As the last of eight Alpine stages, the riders will be feeling it, but this is not the time for a bad ride, especially for Roglic whose Slovenian compatriot Tadej Pogacar sits just under a minute behind in the GC.
This course, however, could be the perfect opportunity for yesterday’s stage winner Miguel Lopez to gain on the yellow jersey. After stage 16’s incredible finish on the Col de la Loze, the Colombian has proven he is not overawed by the quality of the peloton at the biggest race in cycling but would need a momentous day to ride a minute and 26 seconds into the yellow jersey.
This is a day for the endurance climbers with the peloton heading up the Cormet de Roselend, the Saises and Aravis, all at around 6% gradient, before finally reaching the hors categories of the day – the Plateau de Gileres. This 6km climb will definitely be a tough feat for the riders, averaging at 11.2% before a rolling 1.5km gravel section ahead of the summit; the headline slot for all of the Alpine stages.
Last time this climb was featured in the 2018 Tour, Julian Alaphillippe was the first to crest it, going on to take the stage win and mountain points title. After yesterday’s entertaining ride from the Frenchman that earned him the combativity award, as well as losing the jersey in the early stages of the Tour after a time penalty, it will be interesting to see how he tackles this climb.
The peloton will still have to ride an undulating 30km after the Gileres, facing the punchy uncategorised climb Col des Fleuries before the finish line. Including that, there will still be over an hour’s worth of racing so all will be to play for in the last section of this stage.
Whilst the course is not as scary as yesterday’s stage 17, it will be still be an awesome and exciting challenge for the peloton, with the continuing fight between the Slovenians Roglic and Pogacar for the yellow jersey, and a last chance for the likes of Lopez, Richie Porte or Adam Yates to show off their potential. The favourites must use their team to their advantage to be in with a chance of a stage win; it is not a day for solo heroics.
The stage is scheduled to start at 11.05am BST (12.05pm local time).
How to watch
Stage eighteen will be broadcast live in the UK on Eurosport 1.
A breakaway may not be sufficient for this stage, seeing as there is still a fair amount of work to do after the final climb. Roglic and Pogacar will again be locking horns for the yellow jersey and are expected to finish high up in the stage, and it is certain that Roglic’s powerhouse Jumbo-Vista team will be working hard to keep him in the lead. Lopez will also be eyeing the yellow jersey too and yesterday’s mean feat may give him the confidence the young rider needs. Ineos Grenadier’s Richard Carapaz has the potential to do well shown by yesterday’s solo effort; timing will be key for stage 18. Mikel Landa, Yates, Alaphillipe and Porte will also be looking for a stage win to put under the belts.
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