Stage 21 preview-Tour de France 2014 – Ciclismo Internacional

Stage 21 preview-Tour de France 2014

ByDavid Hunter

Stage 20 Recap

Tony Martin did what was expected and there was plenty of excitement behind. Valverde blew and left the door open for Pinot. Peraud claimed second place with a good ride and Pinot third. Both Peraud and Bardet punctured, and it meant that Bardet finished 6th, with Van Garderen 5th. König did the best ride of the GC contenders, to claim 7th. The Dutch pair, Ten Dam and Mollema, had a disaster and allowed Zubeldia into 8th. Ten Dam was 9th and Mollema 10th. Tom Dumoulin finished second in the stage(yet again), with Jan Barta a surprise third.

Stage 21 Evry – Paris 137.5km

The end is nigh!

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The race ends with the usual parade towards Paris. Once there, the speed increases on every lap and sets up a frantic finale. An attack will go away and be brought back before a sprint finish.

Marcel Kittel is the overwhelming favourite. He’s already won 3 stages, but hasn’t tasted victory since stage 4. He took 3 of the first 4 stages, and since then has been quiet. He has been in good positions but lacked the legs to sprint and this must be a concern to him and his team.

Andre Greipel is the second fastest rider in the race. He has the potential to beat Kittel, but only in the right circumstances. I speak regularly to sprinting God, Greg Henderson, and he has told me that to beat Kittel, they need to hit the front and make Kittel come round Greipel. I totally agree with this tactic, as Kittel can sometimes lose position and even his power can’t make up for it. If Kittel hits the front, no one is coming round him.

The problem for Greipel is that Henderson is no longer in the race. That means Jurgen Roelandts will be his “pilot”. The issue is top end speed. Roelandts isn’t as fast as Henderson, so it will be difficult for him to stay at the head of the race, especially against Tom Veelers. Lotto could change tactic, but I think they need to stick to the original plan and hope for the best.

Alexander Kristoff has 2 stage wins to his name, but I don’t think he has the speed to contend here. The same goes for Peter Sagan, but expect him to be in the top 5, again!

OPQS have a great train and could deliver Renshaw in a perfect position, but he lacks the speed to win. They have been keen to launch attacks in the final kilometres of sprint stages, I wonder if Tony Martin might try something!

The only other rider capable of challenging is Arnaud Démare. He’s had a terrible tour, but has hung in through the hard times. On those long, hard mountain stages he got through by dreaming of winning in Paris! His performance in the TT(73rd at 6:44) indicated to me that he is returning to form. He does have an explosive kick, but needs a good lead-out. He could surprise a few and keep the feel good factor for the French.

Prediction time…

I can’t see past a win for Kittel. Greipel will be 2nd and Démare 3rd.

David Hunter

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