Rouleur predicts... Tour de France stage 20
Just a mountain TT to go before Paris - prime Primož territory. Or is it?
Stage 20: Lure - La Planche-des-Belles-Filles (36.2km)
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) The future is now. I'm tipping the strongest and most confident climber in this race takes the stage to crown his sensational Tour de France victory. All hail Tadej, pro cycling's new overlord.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) I've never been one for time-trials, but uphill time-trials are basically summit finishes, fair game. Given that this is his last hurrah, I hope that the Slovenia TT champ can pull off a win and maybe, just maybe, close the gap on his countryman.
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) Maybe a big ask for the American revelation to beat either of the Slovenians, but it will be interesting to see what the kid can do when unshackled from team duties for once. We saw a glimpse of his ability when he put in a brief attack on stage 17. More of that spirit, please, Sepp.
Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) It's gonna be the Pog and Rog show, right? Probably, but don't rule out the one rider who's been here before. Dumoulin has more than done his bit for Roglič over the past three weeks. His duties dispensed, time to take one for himself.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) I think Cycling Mole was pretty mild with my stage 19 pick given that I am almost certain that I was looking at the wrong stage profile when I picked Martinez. So I'm playing it safe today and going for the champion elect to cap off his victory with a stage win.
Cycling Mole says...
Right, I’m on the limit, Tour de France fatigue is setting in. This third week has been a challenge, time to down a gel (beer) and get ready for a final push. Stage 20 and the uphill time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles. We all know this climb, it’s bloody hard. The thing is, you shouldn’t underestimate the other 30km. This is where the race will be won, not on the hill.
We’ll start with the obviously poor pick, sorry Ian. I’m not just a fan of Kuss, he’s one of my many cyclist pals, but he’s rubbish on a TT bike. The climb is great for him, but he’ll lose heaps of time on the flat. The rest of the picks are expected: Roglič, Dumoulin and Pogačar. Andy thinks that Pogačar is the strongest climber in the race, I’m not sure I agree with that. He’ll be able to hold his own on the climb, but I worry about the 30km of flat. He is strong against the clock, but it will be a challenge to hold the same speed as the specialists.
Talking of specialists, Tom Dumoulin will fancy this one. He has grown into the race, after many months without racing. If he was 100 per cent, he’d win this one, but is he? Then we have Primož, this is a wonderful TT for him, and did you notice the way he gapped the others on the gravel section yesterday?
I’m going to agree with Ben - I can’t quite believe I just wrote those words. The strongest rider in the race will win the TT, that’s Primož Roglič.