Jonas Vingegaard’s demolition of the field in Tuesday’s time trial has all but sealed his second Tour de France title, but there is still plenty to race for, with Wednesday’s route a belter.
The Dane and his Jumbo Visma team look set to control the remainder of this year’s Grand Boucle after he extended his lead to a minute and 48 seconds. Tadej Pogacar remains second but looked a beaten man even before crossing the line on Tuesday, obviously aware of the massive gains being made by his rival.
Onto Wednesday and what could be the most explosive stage of the race. The 165.7km route between Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc and Courchevel features four categorised clubs, with the longest also being the last in the form of the 28km Col de la Loze.
With bonus seconds available at the top, a shootout could beckon as Pogacar looks to claw back time before the riders drop into Courchevel and finish with a stiff drag up to the finish line, cruelly placed at the resort’s airport, which tops out at around an 18% gradient.
Tuesday’s result means it will take something special from Pogacar and his Team UAE Emirates colleagues to reignite the race, and as such, Wednesday may belong to the breakaway.
Alexey Lutsenko @ 66/1
Astana Qazaqstan’s Tour was blown apart by Mark Cavendish’s early crash, with the Manxman one of three of their riders to have departed prematurely.
Among those remaining is Alexey Lutsenko, a Kazakh all-rounder who has endured an underwhelming Tour, with a seventh-placed finish to Puy de Dome the best he has been able to muster.
As such, he sits 41st in the overall standings but rode well to finish 16th in Tuesday’s time trial and could go again on Wednesday.
Lutsenko won a Tour stage in 2020 and has finished in the top 10 in each of the last two years.
Repeating that type of finish in the general classification looks unlikely, but a stage win would quell any criticism coming his way, and this route suits him.
Carlos Rodriguez to win @ 25/1
With the big two so far ahead in the general classification, the rider sitting fourth overall could strike.
Ineos Grenadiers’ Carlos Rodriguez showed real attacking flair over the weekend, descending like a demon to win Saturday’s stage into Morzine.
The Spaniard slipped off the podium on Tuesday thanks to an inspired ride by Adam Yates, who now sits third on GC, five seconds ahead of him.
Yates’ responsibility to Pogacar places him in a strange position in that he will have to sacrifice his own ambitions and set his colleague up should the Slovenian go out on the attack.
In contrast, Rodriguez’s recent exploits mean he is now his team’s undisputed leader, and should he get any slack, his ability to fly down the mountains means he could take seconds on both sides of the Col de la Loze.
If he does get away in time, the youngster will be tough to stop.