A Lotto Lottery Ticket? There are three definite bunch sprints forthcoming in the Tour: the traditional Champs Elysee final stage, and the stages directly before and after the Alps.
Today’s relatively short stage may also be a bunchie. It’s a very lumpy part of the world: virtually no flat, and no straight stretches of road make it an exhausting, but beautiful, area to drive through (let alone ride).
The difficulty throughout the day will make it a big ask for the sprinters to arrive at the line with anything left in the legs. However, looking at the profile of the final few kilometres, it will be a finish that hits warp speed if they are there!
Europcar have the responsibility of controlling the race, and with over 140 riders more than 10min behind Thomas Voeckler, they will be looking for a nice little group to get away with no one threatening in the break. If they keep things close enough to keep the sprinter teams interested, things will be brought back together.
There are fine lines that need to be walked and it’s tough to predict how far is too far away. From a sprint team point of view, they’ll be hoping someone a little closer to Voeckler on time is in the break so it is held closer and they can reel it in more easily.
And then there’s Gilbert and Lotto! With the loss of VDB, all of the Lotto eggs are in the Philippe Gilbert green jersey basket.
There’s no way that Gilbert can match Cav on a straight up shoot-out, but if they drive things along hard enough for long enough, maybe they’ll drop the super quick blokes, giving maximum points to the Belgian gun.
All will be revealed later tonight!