The longest day, certainly in distance terms, with 218km on the cards for the tired legs of the peloton.
Time for the break to succeed, n'est-ce pas?
Stage 12: Chauvigny - Sarran Corrèze (218km)
Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team) A long, rolling day and testing finish has got big breakaway written all over it. Without a GC man and with a future to ride for, CCC Team have been one of the most active out there. Many riders could win today, it's a tough one to call but few have the horsepower and nous of De Marchi.
Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) Longest day of the Tour is not natural territory for a 22-year-old, but then he's not your average 22-year-old. The Hirschi Bar Kid has been mighty close on two occasions already, stages 2 and 9. If he can get in the break, there's a couple of lumps in the last 40km for him to drop the rest.
Nils Politt (Israel Startup Nation) The next few stages are starting to look a little bit like Classics, so who better than one of the up-and-coming one-day men who, crucially, is riding for one of the invisible teams. I have a feeling I might regret not going for Wout, but hoping he's a bit knackered from team duties.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hangrohe) Now we all know Sagan has not been at his best so far this Tour, but his rule-bending barge at the climax of Stage 11 would have me inclined to believe that there is fight in the green man yet. Could this lumpy stage an uphill finish represent a return to form?
Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step) Showed he was in the mood for it today, testing out the legs. With a breakaway surely nailed on tomorrow, let's hope Jungels is given the freedom to go for it instead of having to guard green all day.
Cycling Mole says...
Okay, I took a risk on stage 11 and it didn’t pay off, that’s the life of being a cycling tipster. The Rouleur pack are now sensing blood and are moving in for the kill, but I’ve been around the block a few times and know what I’m doing.
Stage 12 has breakaway written all over it, in fact when I first looked at the stage I saw BREAKAWAY. The problem is that 100 riders in the peloton are thinking the same thing, get in the early move. When I say early move, I don’t really mean it. The fight for the break will be bordering on the ridiculous. The road isn’t particularly wide, but it should be chaos as we’ll get attempt after attempt. Once the break gets established, I don’t see anyone chasing to bring it back. The big climb comes with 30km to go, it has a section of 2.6km at 9.5%, but crests with 25km to go, which usually means we won’t get a solo winner. The final 5km also kicks up towards the finishing line, this is a tough old finale.
Only Miles is going for a sprint finish, and he follows the same mistake that’s been made on countless times this race. Peter Sagan is not going to win a stage; I don’t know how many times I have to tell these guys. Stop living in the past, this current version of Sagan just isn’t good enough, but he’ll be much better at the Giro.
The rest of the team are going breakaway daft, I think they got the memo. The worst pick has to be Nils Pollitt, he won’t cope with the climb. De Marchi is a breakaway expert, but he usually saves his wins for the Vuelta, and he’s been rather quiet in this race. Unlucky Andy, you didn’t even manage to select the best pick from CCC! Ben is going for big Boaby [Scottish for Bobby, hope that helps - Ed] Jungels, but I don’t see it myself. He had some freedom today, but seeing as he’s heading to AG2R, most of the Quick Step squad will be higher up the pecking order. Ian has the best pick of the team, which isn’t something I say very often. Marc Hirschi is clearly in outstanding form, if he makes the break he’ll win the stage, I have no doubt.
Remember folks, correctly predicting when a stage goes to the breakaway is hard enough. To then pick the winner of that breakaway is like winning the lottery twice. After a few days of taking things easy, I’ll happily take Julian Alaphilippe for the stage.