An unofficial rest day for the peloton? That’s surely on the minds of some as they head into stage 19 of the Tour de France. The 222.5km stage from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence could really go either way, to a breakaway or to a bunch sprint. It’s a hard one to pick, oh and it’s the longest stage of the Tour de France.
There hasn’t really been one for this year’s Tour de France. A day where the peloton decide to just enjoy the rolling roads around them and allow the breakaway to mop up all accolades during the day. Every day the Tour de France has featured a non-mountainous sprint finish so far, the sprint teams have really kept the breakaway on a tight leash. But after two brutal mountain stages, plus close to three weeks of racing in the bank; this is the most likely we will see a relaxed stage.
Of course the exact opposite is also potentially true, with many sprinters having failed to find the finish line first in the 2017 Tour de France. Anrde Greipel, Nacer Bouhanni, Edvald Boasson Hagen, John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff to name a few have all missed out as Marcel Kittel, Michael Matthews and Arnaud Demare have mopped up bunch sprints over the last 18 days of racing.
Given what is at stake for the sprinters I would have to side with the latter scenario being the most likely. In that case, despite the fact that he has been particularly lack lustre this time around, Andre Greipel has to be our top man for the win. He will be desperate, with his Lotto Soudal team seemingly as brilliant as ever at controlling the race. They are finding few challengers to their authority and experience as front line teams; and less now that Kittel is gone. But it’s just that Greipel’s not quite finished off his teammates’ hard work and the frustration is surely getting to them. Maybe stage 19 is finally his time.
RoadCycling’s top 5 prediction for stage 19 is:
1st: Andre Greipel
2nd: Michael Matthews
3rd: John Degenkolb
4th: Edvald Boasson Hagen
5th: Alexander Kristoff