Stage eight of the 2016 edition of the Tour de France will see the field enter the majestic Pyrenees proper after stage seven’s precursor.
The GC riders will all be looking for valuable seconds on a stage that will break the backs of sprinters and support riders, leaving the likes of Chris Froome, Nairo Quintanna, Fabio Aru and Thibaut Pinot in a very, very small peloton. It’s all shaping up quite nicely on the first real mountain stage, let’s check it out!
To Win Stage
Alejandro Valverde 9/1 | Rui Costa 9/1 | Chris Froome 11/1 | Nairo Quintana 15/1 | Rafal Majka 18/1
Vincenzo Nibali 33/1
The Italian would have been bitterly disappointed after losing out on yesterday's stage following Steve Cummings' magnificent attack with 27 kilometres to go. We can expect the Astana lieutenant to right up there come the end of today's stage, especially considering we've got a tasty little descent into the finish - keep an eye out him today.
Chris Froome 11/1
The Brit typically targets mountain top finishes, so he shouldn't really try and launch any spectacular attacks here. That said, he'll definitely be thinking about putting some time between himself and the other GC contenders in the Pyrenees - could surprise us all today.
Alejandro Valverde 9/1
The Spaniard is working his socks off for Nairo Quintana at the moment but will be desperately keen to claim a stage win in Pyrenees or the Alps. He may well target this stage.
The Stage This will be the second consecutive valley finish in the 2016 edition of the Tour de France. The final climb of the day will see the field have to tackle the category one Col du Peyresoudre, after which they will descend 14 kilometres into the village of Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Race director, Thierry Gouvanou said this about the stage: “ The is effectively a second consecutive valley finish as 14 kilometres separate the of Peyresoudre from the streets of Bagnères-de-Luchon. It offers further proof that we’ve tried to set up the race so that there are plenty of attacks, rather than it being decided with just one big knockout punch! Despite that, this is still a proper mountain stage that will surprise with some previously unused sections of road.”
This is a proper mountain stage with the field set to face four categorised climbs. The first of these is the massive Col du Tourmalet, which will the riders have to climb 19 kilometres at an average grandient of 7.4%. This will be followed by a relatively straight-forward category two effort up the Hourquette d’Ancizan.
The real challenge will come in the last 41 kilometres where with two category one climbs – the 10.7 kilometre-long Col de Val Louron-Azet at 6.8% and the 7.1 kilometre-long Col de Peyresoudre at 7.8%. We can expect some big attacks today from the climbers while the teams of the GC contenders are going to need to try and keep things under control. They simply can’t let one of the stronger climbers get too far ahead as there just aren’t enough kilometres for the big guns to get the time back – expect this to be a Tour-defining stage.
Verdict: Alejandro Valverde 9/1
While the Movistar man has worked hard for Quintana so far, he'll be keen to grab himself a stage victory. Can climb with the best of them, although I'm not sure the peloton will let him get away with the break.
Value bet: Vincenzo Nibali at 33/1
The Astana man doesn't look like he's riding for Fabio Aru at the moment and will definitely target a stage like this one. If he gets over the Col de Peyresourde first, he'll win this stage. Massive value at 33/1.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.