Today is the penultimate stage of the Tour, that will effectively decide the top 10 positions, with only Sunday’s procession to Paris to come. I have had the privilege of riding today’s stage (minus the Col de la Ramaz) a couple of weeks ago at the Etape, and I can tell you that the final climb up the Joux Plane is every bit as bad as they are making out. Looking at the weather its not looking good, with rain on the cards anything could happen on the descents – that’s probably why Nibali is a shorter price today. However if they all stay upright it’s my belief that the best climber in the tour will win this stage. It doesn’t finish on the summit but it will take a very good descender to reel a gap created on the climb which could be significant. The bookies have priced it up like they have no idea of what’s going to happen making Valverde and Nibali tentative favourites at 8/1. I think we could see a similar scenario as yesterday however with the breakaway not allowed much leeway as GC teams seek to keep the pace high across all four Cols. If the break is within striking distance at the base of the Joux Plane then it will likely be a GC rider winning the day. To my eyes this is a similar stage to the penultimate stage in 2013 up the Semnoz, a mountain that saw Quintana and Froome duke it out with the pure climbing ability of Quintana winning the stage.
Again those two are regarded as the best two climbers in the race and I’m surprised to see both at 25/1+.
Froome did crash yesterday and will be sore, but he is hard as they come and I cannot see him being far from the front at any point today, he is by far the strongest rider this year and may want to stamp a final seal on this race by winning another stage. Quintana has suffered in recent days and doesn’t look at his absolute peak, but even so is not very far off on GC. He has experience on this climb; in the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné, the Colombian claimed his first victory at WorldTour level as he descended at perfection after he rode away up to Joux-Plane. A victory here would put a shine on an otherwise below par Tour for him. I think this finale will really whittle down the best of the best and at big prices Froome and Quintana look worth a small involvement. I’m going Froome e/w as he cannot really sprint but is likely to close to whoever wins today.
£2 Froome @ 34.0 Betfair
£2 Quintana @ 44.0 Betfair
£2 Froome top 3 @ 6.7 Betfair