Are sprint finishes more or less predictable now?

Sprinters seem to be being picked off one at a time at the Tour de France right now. Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Arnaud Demare, Mark Renshaw, all have gone from the race for various reasons. As we return to the sprints in stage 10 of the race, the number of sprint contenders is gradually coming down, so does this make the sprints more interesting or more predictable?

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Three key sprinters are now out of the Tour de France. Will that make these next sprint finishes more or less predictable? Image ASO

Sprinters seem to be being picked off one at a time at the Tour de France right now.  Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Arnaud Demare, Mark Renshaw, all have gone from the race for various reasons.  As we return to the sprints in stage 10 of the race, the number of sprint contenders is gradually coming down, so does this make the sprints more interesting or more predictable?

As we head into the tenth stage of the Tour de France we do so without a number of the most colourful and influential sprinters in the world.  If we take the top ten riders in stage 2 of the Tour – the first sprint stage of the Tour – and remove the riders who are now no longer in the race it makes for interesting, and at first not too disturbing reading:

1st:  Marcel Kittel

2nd:  Arnaud Demare

3rd:  Andre Greipel

4th:  Mark Cavendish

5th:  Dylan Groenewegen

6th:  Sonny Colbrelli

7th:  Ben Swift

8th:  Nacer Bouhanni

9th:  Michael Matthews

10th:  Peter Sagan

Stage 10 from Perigueux to Bergerac is the shortest sprint stage so far, image ASO

After all, it’s just three riders.  Tour de France withdrawals are part and parcel of the race, right?  These things sadly happen.  Yes, but rarely to three riders who are so influential in sprint finishes.  So what happens next?  There are one of two options, either Boasson Hagen, Matthews, Kristoff, Degenkolb, Groenewegen, Bouhanni etc will rise up to present a new challenge to the giants that are Kittel and Greipel; or the way will be clear for the two Germans to simply wipe the floor with the rest.

Julian Dean has made the point that so far this year the Tour de France has become less exciting.  Taking to social media Dean said, “You could put it down to Chris Froome and Team Sky’s dominance but you certainly have to admire their domination and precision.”

But it’s not just Team Sky in the mountains that can possibly have made the Tour de France a little less animated.  On the flat stages the sprint teams can also bare a faire share of responsibility.  “The racing has been very controlled with breakaways rarely getting more than 3 minutes and the control exerted by the sprinters’ teams have created a lot of predictability in the outcomes,” Dean said.  “This doesn’t mean that it has made the race any easier and I do believe things will begin to spice up in the second half of the Tour as the fatigue sets in and the team show haven’t won stages begin to roll the dice more.”

We are now on the cusp of the second half of the Tour, so according to Dean’s theory the tipping point will be here shortly.  Until then though our prediction is more of the same from Marcel Kittel and the Quick-Step Floors team; purely because we’ve had no reason to suspect anything else but total dominance from them.

Dion Smith and Jack Bauer at the head of their group in stage 8, photo Sirotti
Kiwi influence:

 

Dion Smith’s highest stage finish so far has been 11th place in stage 6 of the Tour de France.  This second half of the race might be the perfect opportunity for the 24 year old to start advancing up the leaderboard in sprint finishes.  He has six non-mountain stages ahead of him – not including the individual time trial – so we wait with baited breath to see how he progresses.

 

RoadCycling’s top 5 prediction is:

 

1st:  Marcel Kittel

2nd:  Michael Matthews

3rd:  Andre Greipel

4th:  Alexander Kristoff

5th:  Nacer Bouhanni

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