This is it! The Giant of Provence, the Bald Mountain – stage 12 of the Tour de France will end with the field having to summit one of the toughest climbs in world cycling, Mont Ventoux. To cap it all off, the most important stage of the Tour falls on Bastille Day no less!
All of the GC contenders will need to be on top form here, with Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana no doubt earmarking this stage as a potential attacking platform. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the likes of Fabio Aru and Thibaut Pinot who will look to win a stage on one of France’s most treasured holidays. Let’s check it out.
To Win Stage
Chris Froome 18/10 | Nairo Quintana 7/2 | Richie Porte 14/1 | Thibaut Pinot 14/1 | Rafal Majka 16/1
Thibaut Pinot 14/1
You simply can't rule out a Frenchman on Bastille Day, and in Pinot, the French have a proper climber. The FDJ team leader won last year on the Alp d'Huez, and will have identified this stage early on as the one that he'd love to win - he's a huge runner today.
Nairo Quintana 7/2
Nairo Quintana has already lost a bunch of time on his biggest rival, Chris Froome. He needs to make a move soon or he may see his hopes of claiming his first Tour de France title slip away. Keep an eye out for the Movistar rider today.
Chris Froome 18/10
Froome may have already done enough to claim the GC title again this year. He already has a 35-second gap on Nairo Quintana, and barring any slip-ups in the Alps, he should claim his third win on the Tour. He's an incredible climber and might well target the massive climb up Mont Ventoux today.
This is a fairly straight-forward stage until the field reaches the foot of Mont-Ventoux – probably the toughest climb on 2016’s professional race calendar. There are two other categorised climbs planned for the day before we arrive at the Giant of Provence.
The first of the categorised climbs, the Côte de Gordes, will be encountered at 131.5 kilometres and runs for 3.3-kilometres at a 4.8% gradient. The second, the Col des Trois Termes is a straight-forward category three climb which runs for 2.5 kilometres at 7.5%.
The real challenge – Mont Ventoux – is a monster category beyond climb that will require the riders to ascend 15.7 kilometres at a back-breaking gradient of 8.8%. This, I feel, is where the Tour may well be decided. If either one of the GC contenders can get away up the Bald Mountain, they could steal a lot of time on their rivals. Keep an eye out for Nairo Quintana on this stage, he needs to pull back 35 seconds on Froome and could explode up the climb.
The intermediate sprint on this stage falls on the 102.5-kilometre mark, and should be a pretty straightforward sprint for Peter Sagan.
Verdict: Thibaut Pinot 14/1
It's Bastille Day, and you simply can't ignore the value that Thibaut Pinot represents. He's easily one of the best climbers in the Tour and he could well go on to win. Back him here at 14/1.
Value Bet: Rafal Majka 16/1
The Polish climber currently sits second in the King of the Mountains classification just three points off Pinot. Don't be surprised to see both men in the breakaway today, with either of the two going on the claim stage victory.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.