The Tour de France has one major mountain stage remaining on Thursday in the Alps. Photo by @Sammmy_Be (Twitter).
- Stage 18 of the TDF (Thursday, September 16) is the last strenuous mountain stage this year
- Tadej Pogacar is running short on time if he is going to catch Primoz Roglic
- With a downhill conclusion to Stage 18, should you back a strong descender?
Primoz Roglic can taste victory. After finishing second on Wednesday, and putting more distance between himself and second-place Tadej Pogacar, Roglic needs only to survive Thursday’s final stage in the Alps and Saturday’s time trial to put the Tour de France on ice.
Miguel Ángel López, logical Stage 17 contender, won on Wednesday, but the bigger story was Roglic having more in the tank – and a better team – than Pogacar. The Slovenian extended his lead from 40 seconds to 57 ticks.
Roglic is a better time trialer, meaning Pogacar must make up serious ground on Stage 18. The opportunity is present for him in what is among the most difficult stages of the race. There are five categorized climbs and attacks are likely throughout the day.
Picking a winner depends a lot on motivation. Are people going to move early and try to steal the Yellow Jersey, or sit back and try to rally late to get on the podium?
2020 Tour de France Stage 18 Odds
|Rider||Odds at DraftKings|
|Daniel Felipe Martinez||+1000|
|Miguel Angel Lopez||+2000|
Odds as of Sep. 16th.
From a strategic standpoint, Stage 18 is fantastic and variable. With major climbs throughout the 168-kilometre trek from Meribel to a downhill finish in La Roche-sur-Foron, there is opportunity.
Pogacar will have to assume that Roglic has plenty of gas left. He can’t let Roglic coast along with the peloton for the majority of the day. If the attacks come late, Roglic’s strong team will be able to help support and insulate him. Any rider looking to make a major move in the GC standings will have to act earlier than the final climb.
There are seven riders within 4.5 minutes of the lead. An attack on both ends could be a problem for the leader. What if fourth-place Richie Porte or fifth-place Adam Yates make an early move to try and steal the stage and gain minutes not seconds? Jumbo-Visma would be forced to respond. Could that weaken them towards the end if they were attacked by Pogacar or another contender?
This is also the last stage for an elite climber to taste victory, or a top descender to show what he does best. It is the type of stage, late in the race, where a lot of people are thinking it is their final opportunity. That makes for good betting options and a lot of reasonable price plays.
Marc Hirschi has been in the mix a lot this year. He isn’t a threat to the overall lead so Jumbo-Visma won’t be concerned about letting him go in a breakaway. He won Stage 12 after coming close on Stage 9.
In a similar vein, Daniel Felipe Martinez is a tremendous climber who captured Stage 13.
Martinez is not a contender to win the race, but he is capable and strong, which profiles well on a day that Roglic will be both eager to find some rest but quick to respond to any contenders that make a move.
You should never count out the top GC riders. Pogacar needs the ride of his life on Thursday to win the race. Sure, he was repelled on Wednesday, but he got the better of Roglic on two previous uphill finishes.
Roglic does not need to win the stage, and yesterday was the perfect example of his team caring little about individual stages. That said, on Thursday, they cracked all but one rider, and the ultimate flex would be to put the race out of reach during the final day in the Alps.
Roglic is pretty much always a viable winner because he is the top rider on the best team and they dictate the terms of the race.
There is no question Stage 17 had to take something out of Ángel López, but if he was the strongest on Wednesday, why not again on Thursday?
He has now won stages on each of the grand tours, clearly has a very bright future ahead of him, and may be the strongest overall climber in this year’s tour.
In contrast to Ángel López, it has not been a good Tour de France for Julian Alaphilippe. Since winning Stage 2, he has been considered a strong contender for another victory, yet hasn’t come terribly close.
Alaphilippe is a tremendous descender, though, and this is the last major mountain stage. He could easily try to be a part of the breakaway, or make a move on the final descent.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.