Tour de France recruits final week with all to play for … and the Galibier looms | William Fotheringham

Fridays time trial from Marseilles Stade Vlodrome could demonstrate critical but two vast mountain stages before then is a possibility vital for Chris Froome and co

Froome to watch, the residue to assault

The cracks in the Tour are small but nothing has already been been recognized on the scale of the four odious climbs that await on Wednesday and Thursday, all over 2,000 m in altitude and, in the case of the Croix de Fer and Galibier, of a section we havent seen in the hasten thus far. Chris Froome and his squad have just been to watch the respite, while grabbing what time they are unable close to the finish, because on paper the Briton is the strongest time triallist so can bank on gaining era on Saturday in Marseille. Thus, it falls to Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru, and Rigoberto Urn the most prominent climbers in the hasten in so far to attack; Dan Martin and Simon Yates have not seemed quite at high levels of the four largest to year when the mallet goes down. Froome has the strongest unit in the hasten, and he should have Mikel Landa to cover moves, so he is in the box seat. Nonetheless

The unexpected and Landa lurking in the offstages

Froome has had a impressive number of minor episodes so far minor exits from the road on Sunday and at Peyragudes, mechanicals at Chambry and on Sunday, and his downfall at Peyragudes. Something sudden could establish his competitives an opening as long as they are willing and able to take its own initiative. The other unknown concerns Landa, lying sixth overall and searching disturbingly strong. If at some object on Wednesday or Thursday he gets into a potentially race-winning position most likely by distinguishing a move by a rider outside Froomes immediate path as he did with Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador on Bastille Day that is when the hasten could get very interesting. The subject then is whether Sky rein him in or let him rend. And how Froome might react.

Desperation depots

The maths say it all: 10 squads have won stages, with Quickstep the biggest winners thanks to Marcel Kittel. Realistically, “theres” two theatres that might fall to a breakaway without professional climbers Tuesdays stage into Romans-sur-Isre and Fridays to Salon de Provence although neither is nailed on. On those two stagecoaches there will be intense competition to get into the winning move, so the risks are the recent trend for a large number of escapees up front will be repeated. Movistar, BMC, Dimension Data, Lotto-Soudal, Bahrain-Merida, UAE and Lotto-Jumbo all have yet to acquire even if Lotto-Jumbo will hope that Primoz Roglic might give in Marseille. Even Lotto-Soudal know that with Kittel on his current form their sprinter Andr Greipel cant bank on winning, so they will probably be in the smashes as well.

The dark-green t-shirt and polka-dot battles

In the fight to be good climber, Warren Wawa Barguil has a stranglehold, and knows that he has only to score highly in one of the two continuing major mountain stages Wednesday and Thursday to secure the polka-dot t-shirt. The amusing combat is for light-green, where his team-mate Michael Matthews is challenging Kittel by employing his relative rise strength to go for intermediate sprints and if possible the stage win on hillier stagecoaches. Tuesday gazes seasonable, with a hilly start, and here Matthews will look to get in a end, if possible with team-mates around him. Wednesday has a handy second feline climb immediately prior to the sprint. Thursday is less promising but Friday has enough climbings early on for Kittel to be under pressure again if Sunweb still have the legs. The German is favourite, because he has a good produce and the points arrangement privileges stage wins, but Matthews has good reason not to give up.

Warren
Warren Barguil should keep the polka dots all the way to Paris. Photo: Chris Graythen/ Getty Images

A massive audience for what could be a cliff-hanger

Better known these days for soccer and rugby, Marseilles Stade Vlodrome offered to host the start and finish of the final day visitation, reverting to its original purpose as a dwelling for motorcycle race, with a 67,000 strong gathering expected to break the Tours attendance record for a single venue. Stadium finishes are rarely met nowadays in cycling so this is relatively new. What will be on offer is the big question, because Wednesday and Thursdays clambers are uncharted liquids. The occasions are that at least got a couple of the top six will crack somewhere amongst those four clambers; good-for-nothing to date been shown that any of the four largest will open a decisive chink. It could, and should, all still be to play for on Saturday.

An intriguing La Course

There are two ways of looking at the revamped La Course womens occasion, with a 67.5 km race finishing on the Izoard on Thursday, and a sort of epoch contest with a difference in Marseille on Saturday, where all those who finish within five minutes of Thursdays winner will start according to the time gaps they registered on the Izoard, with the first across the line prevailing effectively a handicap event, where the contestants can work together if they catch one another. The glass half empty attitude is that this is lip service to equality because the Izoard stage is relatively brief, while merely a hand-picked few has taken part in Marseille.

The other way of looking at it is that moving to two days racing is a useful precedent and that the facts of the case the organizer have a entirely new episode on their hands means they can experiment rather than merely parroting the three men hasten. Baby steps and all that. In any case, it was time for a change from hastening up and down the Champs lyses and this could be intriguing to watch. The big names are Marianne Vos, Katarzyna Niewadoma, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Lizzie Deignan. Olympic champion Anna Van der Breggen is not on the provisional start list.

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