Tour de France Tour de France 2021, Stage 18: Pau – Luz Ardiden, 129.7 km

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Final stage for those in the top 10 who hasn't yet shown their face in the race to do so. Uran, Mas and Bilbao have each attacked for 15 seconds in total this Tour while Kelderman and Lutsenko have yet to do anything at all.
Bilbao had at least 15s on his own yesterday. ;) I expect him to be Victorious today, duking it out with Gaudu. (if not, it'll again be the big three)
 
Pogacar to win the stage and KOM. Uran to gain time on Carapaz with Vingegaard. Colbrelli 8th on the stage.
No what this is what’s actually going to happen. The Great Bauke Mollema to outscore the riders ahead of him in the KOM and cross the top of Tourmalet. He will than with Nibali’s essence inside of him and get to the bottom with a 3 minute gap. It will be tight on Luz Ardiden but he will win with a 10 second gap. Pogacar to have a mechanical and finish 3 minutes behind Vingegaard, Uran, and Carapaz.
 
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I’m quite sure it has never been ridden in full from the north.
It's true, and the road from north (Viscos) was in horrible condition at least in 2019 when I was there.

One year they should try Tourmalet - Luz-Ardiden (up from south, down from north, obviously skipping the top) - Hautacam. Probably would turn into a snoozefest due to the long-ish distance to the bottom of Hautacam, but you never know...
 
Isn't it better to precede Hautacam with Aubisque anyway?

Either way these Pyreneean climbs are all very similar in lenghts, gradients, etc, and I don't see super much you can do to change up route designs. Any finish on Hautacam, Luz Ardiden or something won't see much action before that climb. Tourmalet somehow never sees action unless it's a MTF. I guess Cauterets was an attempt at that in 2015 but then it was the 2nd mountain stage and all that happened was Nibali successfully dropping himself.

Wouldn't mind something like Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden until junction-descent into Luz.
 
Give Kelderman some credit

He crashed on his face yesterday.
I don't usually give riders credit for crashing - be it on their faces or other bodyparts - but I gotta admit that Kelderman is very, very good at it.

Bilbao had at least 15s on his own yesterday. ;) I expect him to be Victorious today, duking it out with Gaudu. (if not, it'll again be the big three)
Yes, that's what I meant re: Bilbao :)
 
Isn't it better to precede Hautacam with Aubisque anyway?

Either way these Pyreneean climbs are all very similar in lenghts, gradients, etc, and I don't see super much you can do to change up route designs. Any finish on Hautacam, Luz Ardiden or something won't see much action before that climb. Tourmalet somehow never sees action unless it's a MTF. I guess Cauterets was an attempt at that in 2015 but then it was the 2nd mountain stage and all that happened was Nibali successfully dropping himself.

Wouldn't mind something like Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden until junction-descent into Luz.
I think something like Luchon - Gavarnie would be pretty cool. Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet, the Viscos side of Luz Ardiden and then finish in Gavarnie.
 
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I think something like Luchon - Gavarnie would be pretty cool. Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet, the Viscos side of Luz Ardiden and then finish in Gavarnie.
Gavarnie would be very cool with whatever preceding it, but sadly it's a national park so they might never get the permits. Last year would have been a prime candidate due to lesser crowds.
 
Carapaz and Uran should be interested in attacking.
I think Carapaz will.
Definitely think Carapaz will be back to riding a bit more aggressively today, he's got enough of a gap now he can risk wasted energy and probably still hold the podium but he can still perhaps topple Vingegaard if the latter was to go too deep and blow up.

Uran... I kind of think he's just on the limit doing his best to keep even close tbh.

Hard to know what else could happen. Maybe Movistar do try something coordinated to see if they can get Mas back towards a podium.
 
This stage will probably just solidify the top 3 on GC. Don't see Uran putting time into Carapaz. Poels will probably win the KOM, Cavendish will survive, and the break like yesterday might get caught again. Hopefully the route design next year does away with the mountain descent finishes which added nothing to the race this year even though they can work on hard intermediate stages but the long descent finishes just kill the GC battle for the most part. I am tipping that they only go for one TT next year and maybe bring back the TTT but have more MTFs. A good finish by O'Connor should increase his chances of a top 5.
I like the descent finishes. 2017 was packed with descent finishes, and each time we saw the gc riders come in groups of 3-5 riders, sprinting for stage wins between them, with multiple top 10 riders getting wins. Pack a race with summit finishes and all the stages go to the break or the maillot jaune (see 2018, even).

2017 doesn’t get a lot of love because it was Froome’s 4th win and lack of ITT, but the route allowed for some great racing. (And any more TT would have just meant Froome adding minutes to his cushion).
 

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