We are closing in on the end of the 2023 Tour de France and for the sprinters who’ve made it over the montains, they have another chance to take a stage victory on Thursday in Stage 18. We take a look at the stage and have three betting choices for you to consider…
After almost a week of gruelling Alpine action, there’s a chance for the sprinters on Thursday as the Tour de France peloton takes on a 184.9km route between Moutiers and Bourg-en-Bresse.
With Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan and Fabio Jakobsen among those to have already departed the race, the speedsters’ pool looks particularly shallow.
However, even with that trio in contention, they may have struggled to match this year’s standout, Jasper Philipsen.
The Belgian has won four times already at the Tour, taking his tally to six wins in the last seven bunch sprints at the race when considering his victories in the final week last year.
Philipsen has battled his way through the mountains, retaining the green jersey and may have been taking it easy, playing a supporting role as the race’s protagonist Jonas Vingegaard has destroyed the competition.
The Dane’s win in Tuesday’s time-trial, coupled with his excellent ride on Wednesday to Courchevel, has left him seven minutes and 35 seconds clear of Tadej Pogacar, who conceded over the race radio that he was “gone”.
With the end of the 110th Tour in sight, the sprinters have a chance to shine on Thursday and Philipsen will be tough to beat.
It seems an obvious choice but it is hard not to back Philipsen, who barring a late push by Mads Pedersen on the uphill finish into Limoges, has looked pretty much invincible at this year’s Tour.
Another sprint success would see him become the first rider to win five stages at a single Tour since Marcel Kittel in 2017 and he could even make it seven with further chances on both Friday and Sunday.
With the green jersey all but guaranteed, he will hope to stamp his authority on the competition after seeing most of his pre-Tour rivals bite the dust for varying reasons.
The Alpecin Deceuninck rider was actually well within the time cut on Wednesday, demonstrating his strength and it would be no surprise to see him and his teammate Mathieu van Poel combine for a fifth win of the race.
Should things not go to plan for the green jersey, then Van der Poel is another viable option, as is Vingegaard’s Jumbo Visma colleague Wout van Aert, albeit his efforts in the mountains may have put paid to his sprinting ambitions.
Therefore, Pedersen may be the man to push Philipsen the hardest and he currently sits second in the points classification, albeit 137 points behind his rival.
The 2019 world champion has enjoyed some decent days at this year’s Tour, recording five top 10s at the race, including that win on stage eight.
After spinning his way through the final day in the Alps, Pedersen should have something left in his legs and can have a day off from protecting Lidl Trek teammate Giulio Ciccone, who currently leads the mountains classification.