- Stage 17 of the TDF (Wednesday, September 15) is the second of three straight days in the Alps
- Tadej Pogacar must gain time in Stage 17 and/or 18 if he is going to catch Primoz Roglic
- With Team Jumbo-Visma controlling the race, a longshot breakaway winner is possible too
In sports, sometimes the game clock is mentioned as an ally of the team that’s ahead, or an obstacle for the side that’s trailing. The Tour de France has 21 stages and 16 are in the books. The dominant rider/team this year, Primoz Roglic and Jumbo-Visma, are trying to run out the clock more than go for the jugular.
On Tuesday, as expected, Jumbo-Visma had no issues allowing a breakaway to rule the day. Lennard Kämna easily won the stage, while the GC contenders coasted home. Roglic stuck with the peloton and retained his 40-second edge over his only true competition, Tadej Pogacar.
Jumbo-Visma is likely content to allow something similar to take place on Wednesday, but two massive climbs towards the end of an otherwise flat stage give Pogacar and other pursuers an opportunity to test Roglic. GC contenders are the favorite to rule the day, though a breakaway stands a realistic shot too.
2020 Tour de France Stage 17 Odds
|Rider||Odds at DraftKings|
|Miguel Angel Lopez||+1200|
|Daniel Felipe Martinez||+1800|
Odds as of Sep. 15th.
The two best ways to gain time in the Tour de France are mishaps (like crashes) and well-timed attacks. Jumbo-Visma has dominated this year’s event and showed no signs of fatigue or weakness. That means they must be attacked, and a day with two HC climbs provides that opportunity.
Pogacar can’t move too early, or try to get in the breakaway, because Jumbo-Visma would quickly respond or simply not allow it. He has attacked and gained ground on a couple of mountain stages, but needs more than a few seconds. One would expect he’ll make his move a pinch earlier and see if Roglic cracks down the stretch on Wednesday.
Stage 17 goes from Grenoble to Col de la Loze over 168 kilometres. The last third of the day, climbs of Col de la Madeleine and Col de la Loze combine for 40 kilometres of uphill challenges that include average gradients of more than 10%, and portions at a ridiculous 20%.
We’re coming down the stretch, and the next two mountain stages will clarify the final standings. Roglic is going to be attacked. How will he respond?
A repeat of Stage 15 feels somewhat likely. Roglic will be insulated by his teammates, Pogacar will make a move, but his slight edge on the steepest gradients won’t dent the overall standings.
The top two GC contenders are both likely stage winners. Pogacar has taken two stages, while Roglic has one this year. Pogacar has no choice but to go all out. It is also possible Roglic’s team wants to avoid the drama and risk of being fairly tight this late into the race and will make an assertive move to put the event away.
Unless you think a miracle or disaster is going to take place, really the only scenarios in which Roglic or Pogacar fail to win the race, everyone else is just trying to win individual stages at this point or fight for the final spot on the podium.
Three Colombians worthy of consideration are Miguel Ángel López, Dani Martinez, and Egan Bernal.
Ángel López has reached the podium at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. This is his first Tour de France and, in a heavy climbing day, he could try to flex his muscles.
Martinez won Stage 13 and there is little reason to believe he won’t both go after another victory this year.
As for Bernal, the defending champ, this year’s race has been a disaster. His usually top team, Ineos, is way down, and the last several days have seen Bernal unable to compete. All they can salvage at this point is a stage win, but they haven’t looked strong enough. Could they be saving energy for one attack?
Adam Yates held the yellow jersey early in this year’s tour and while he hasn’t been a contender for either a podium position or any recent stage, he continues to ride well and probably will push to take one more leg.
Yates is one of the few riders this year to show a desire to push and attack Jumbo-Visma. So long as it isn’t Pogacar who attacks, at this point they may let Yates go if the timing is right.