Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stage 11 Preview 2014 Tour De France

Stage 11 Preview 2014 Tour de France
187.5k from Besancon to Oyonnax; rolling.
Moving south, from the Vosges to the Jura...

*Fabian Cancellara has withdrawn from the race to get some rest before he gets on with training for the World Championships in September.

Stage 11 profile
A few small hills toward the back end of the stage on Wednesday may encourage some attacks, but many sprinters could be around to contest the finish if they choose to chase down the breaks. There is a 15-k descent to the finish in Oyonnax, so expect a fast and furious race at the end, with stage hunters trying to keep the sprinters' teams at bay. I expect to see Peter Sagan at the finish, ready to add more points to his lead in the green jersey competition. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) is another sprinter who could eat up that finish if he's got the legs.

The rolling 40k that precede the final 15k, could be ideal for riders like Rui Costa or Alejandro Valverde to try and get away from the other GC contenders and maybe gain some time, but it is more likely that the GC contenders will let the fast men duke this one out. The GC guys have the summit finishes on stages 13 and 14 to think about. Also, race leader Vincenzo Nibali would not be easy to drop on this parcours.

Assuming the sprint teams do not control the race on Wednesday, several talented and ambitious riders could have a go at the stage win:

Both Tom (Giant-Shimano) and Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R) could be eyeing this stage. I am also looking at JJ Rojas of Movistar, Greg Van Avermaet and Daniel Oss of BMC, Sylvain Chavanel of the pro-conti IAM team, and Lars Boom (who won already, on the demanding cobbled stage 5 course) and Sep Vanmarcke of the Dutch Belkin team.

Just for kicks, here is a list of other candidates, by team, whom I think could be eyeing this stage:

Katusha have options with Porsev and Paolini if Kristoff doesn't make it to contest the sprint finish;

Big, amiable Jens Voigt of the Trek team, is not a bad bet.  I'd like to see Jensie throw caution to the wind again, and have a try at tomorrow's course.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Daniele Bennati, Matteo Tosatto, or Michael Morkov try to get into the break for Tinkoff-Saxo. They will want to be looking for new race options now that their GC leader, Contador is gone.

The entire Orica GreenEdge Team is loaded with viable candidates for the next couple of stages. Simon Gerrans' fifth place finish on stage 7 is the best result that the Aussie team has put up so far in this race, so they need to get something done. Michael Albasini might be their best bet.

Terpstra (OPQ) and Chavanel (IAM) attacked on stage 8
Andrey Grivko (Astana) could likely get into the break if he's feeling good.

Besides Sagan, Cannondale have a couple of riders who are itching for an opportunity to try their luck: Elia Viviani--a very good sprinter himself--and Marco Marcato, who could be a good breakaway candidate.

Niki Terpstra or Michal Golas might find the legs for Omega Pharma tomorrow.

Romain Feillu of the wildcard Bretagne-Seche squad is a sprinter who would enjoy a shot at a stage win, particularly if the big sprinters' teams aren't around at the end. Another option for them could be Anthony Delaplace.

Garmin-Sharp have several potential options for stages 11 and 12. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jack Bauer try to make the break.

Normally, I would select Arthur Vichot for a stage like tomorrow's, but his form hasn't looked great to me lately. FDJ have other possibilities, like Jeremy Roy, who can try his luck on almost any terrain.

Green Jersey leader Peter Sagan
Lotto Belisol is chock-full-of options. Greipel will probably try to be there for the finish, but if not, then Jurgen Roelandts and Lars Bak are both well-versed in fast, technical finishes.

Maybe Kevin Reza of Europcar will get a chance to ride for himself tomorrow if Bryan Coquard isn't there at the end.

I don't think we have seen Julien Simon get into a break yet. The French Cofidis rider was fourth at the French National Championships a couple weeks ago.

For NetApp, Paul Voss is a good breakaway candidate; and Zak Dempster has a fast finish.

OK. So, who am I picking for stage 11?
Not going out on any limbs, I am sticking with the powerful Peter Sagan.
My "lonshot" pick is Danny Oss of BMC.

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