A successful day yesterday on the betting front, placing all top three sprinting picks onto the podium! Chris Froome retook yellow after a hectic stage finale and will have to go onto the defensive today; who will take the fight once more to the Brit?

Climbing begins in earnest today, as early as the 17th kilometre. The climb should give the opportunists a big launchpad to forge a large breakaway group as it ascends for 8.9km at an average of 6.4%, not too steep by Tour standards, but still one for the purer climbers of the bunch.

No respite at the top either, riders will have to ride a false flat all the way to the base of the next climb, this time a Cat 3 ascent to Cote de Vieurals. The breakaway will have to be resilient if they are to hold a gap on these roads, the moment a GC team starts pacing behind, they're done for.

A long drawn out descent on rolling roads should create a lull in action through the midpoint of today's stage and give the riders a chance to regather their thoughts before the tricky finale.

The descent to Prades could spark some big attacks, especially since it comes just 10km before the most gruelling climb of the day.

The mountain climbs for 8.3km at 7.4%, on paper, not the hardest ascent in the Massif Central. However, the gradients on this climb really do duck and dive, a flat section half way through marking the transition from 6% to 12%. Max gradients reach 14% and could provide the purer climbers with a chance to ride away from their breakaway counterparts.

At the top, there's still 31km before the stage finish, tough for the pure climbers to survive with no rouleurs to help drive them through the flat lands. A few humps in the road as the riders make their way to the finishing town could provide launchpads for some late attacks, especially if the group out front is small, and lacking in cooperation.

A flat finale with a long sweeping run in to the finish line could produce one excitable sprint if a small group reach the finish. However, with the up and down nature of the day, it's a lot more likely that a rider will arrive solo, granting him the opportunity to raise arms aloft and salute the crowd as he passes...

With this being the final day before the riders embark on their final rest day, some of the GC teams may be eager to start making inroads into Chris Froome's yellow jersey. The Brit has only just taken it back and both him and his Sky team will have been hoping for an easier day today.

But, the top four on GC are still only separated by 29 seconds, making them all viable to take the yellow jersey at today's stage finish. Sky will likely be thrown onto the defensive from very early on, AG2R rocking the downhill sections as Trek and Astana try to animate the climbs.

The dipping and diving nature of the route will make a chase difficult, if Froome becomes isolated he can essentially wave his yellow jersey goodbye. The best method of defense today for the Brit will be offense, stamp his dominance on the Tour and be done with it...

The Brit can be found at a very far 66/1 with Bet365 for the stage win and is certainly worth an E/W punt just in case he makes one of his trademark late attacks.

Other GC contenders to consider are Alberto Contador and Dan Martin; the former animated stage 13 and sparked the winning move with 70km still remaining. He'll be eager to take more time from Chris Froome and possibly even a stage win; he'd like to leave it until the race reaches the Alps but time is slowly running out for Contador.

The Spaniard can be found at 66/1 with SkyBet for the stage win. Martin is one of the GC riders that will be eyeing up the sprint if the overall contenders come to the finish en masse. He has the fastest kick out of the main favourites and will surely compete for a podium on the day. He can be found at 40/1 with BetStars and is certainly worth an E/W bet.

Due to the undulating nature of today's stage, many predict that a breakaway will take the day's honours; the GC teams failing to mount any effective chase.

Big names for today's escape include British champion Stephen Cummings, Frenchman Tony Gallopin and Belgian wonder-kid, Tiesj Benoot. All three are riders that love an aggressive race and they all should excel on today's route. Cummings will love the climbs and will be eager to forge ahead solo on the final mountain pass; he can be found at 9/1 with PaddyPower to take today's stage.

Both Benoot and Gallopin are from the same team and will be looking to work together today to try and grind down the breakaway group one by one. Gallopin is the better sprinter, and Benoot the superior climber; depending on where the attacks fly today will ultimately decide which one rides for the stage win.

Lotto Soudal are desperate for a stage and will put everything into these two riders today, Gallopin can be found at odds of 16/1 with BetStars and Benoot at 16/1 with SkyBet.

Bastille day winner and King of the Mountains, Warren Barguil, certainly won't pass up on the chance to join today's escape. He already has a stage win, what will stop him snatching another? The Frenchman can be found at 12/1 with William Hill for today's win.

Primoz roglic should also be in breakaway attendance today, one eye on the stage win but also one eye on Barguil's polka dot jersey. The Slovenian rider can be found at 25/1 with Bet365 for the stage win.

The Verdict

29 seconds seperate the top four on GC and I doubt that any of the overall contenders will want to wait until the Alps to attack Chris Froome. There's a rest day tomorrow which will allow riders to go deep into the red today; expect some very aggressive racing...

I'll be on cycling talisman, Alberto Contador, to launch one of his trademark, race breaking attacks (66/1). In the case that the GC men come to the finish together, I'll be on Dan Martin to take the sprint, 40/1 E/W.

For the breakaway, Cummings and Gallopin are two strong men to cover and definitely worth small punts at odds of 9/1 and 16/1 respectively. Gallopin is a good sprinter and could take a podium today, an E/W bet on the Frenchman a good move.

Purely to cheer on a big outsider, I'll be going for Dylan Van Baarle to do something magical and bring home a prestigious stage win. At odds of 250/1 with BetWay, this is one cracking deal...

H2H bets today will be difficult given the unpredictable nature of the route, even so, these are some good battles to get behind (all with Paddy Power):

Warren Barguil (Win) vs Damiano Caruso - 8/13

Romain Sicard (Win) vs Pierre Luc Perichon - 5/4

Dan Martin (Win) vs Simon Yates - 4/9

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