Despite all the signs pointing towards a large breakaway yesterday, it was ultimately the riders that let us all down. Of the three man escape, we did place 250/1 Frederik Backaert but unfortunately, this alone was not enough to bring home the win. Kittel took his fifth stage win in emphatic fashion and relegated our sprinting pick, Michael Matthews, to fourth place.
Today's stage is out with old and in with the new, gone are the flat road transition stages and in are the incredibly tough Pyrenean mountains. No fewer than six climbs line today's route, ranging from the easiest 4th Cat, to the excruciatingly steep HC category.
A long flat build up of around 50km to the first real climb should give the breakaway a big opportunity to form. A lot of strength will be needed to escape, and with every rider and his dog looking to join today's escape, the competition is likely to be fierce.
As a result, the break today may favour those strong rouleurs who can also climb, the classics specialists and opportunists of the peloton. The Col des Ares and Col de Mente are two early climbs, that by any other standard, would blow a race apart. However, with their positioning before the real triple header of the day, they shouldn't cause too much upset.
The real fight will erupt on the Port de Bales, the longest climb of the Tour so far. A fast descent to the infamous Peyresourde should have riders reeling and they'll have to fight tooth and nail just to clamber up it's unforgiving ramps.
A short descent to the final Cat 2 climb to the Ski town of Peyragudes will finish the day and provide a big opportunity for some late attacks, teams like AG2R may just try to light up the downhills once more...
The rest of the competition should know by now that they can't beat Froome going uphill, he's simply too strong and has team support in abundance. A consensus needs to be reached by the other teams to try and isolate him early on, devoid him of support and leave him vulnerable for a killer attack come the Port de Bales or Peyresourde.
The best way to take the fight to Froome, and Team Sky, will be to flood the breakaway with high quality riders, forcing the British team onto the defensive from early on. Unless Sky can close the gap to this breakaway, it's remnants should go onto contend the stage win today..
Pierre Rolland and Thibaut Pinot are two Frenchman that will be eyeing up today's move, eager to add a Tour de France victory to each of their Giro stage wins. Neither have any ambitions in the overall classification and should, in theory, be given the leeway to ride for the stage win.
They're two of France's most talented climbers and shouldn't struggle with the ascents on today's stage. The only struggle they may face is getting into the initial breakaway; with both of them shedding weight for the mountains, they'll struggle to keep up with the hectic pace on the flat roads early in the day.
Nevertheless, both of them come to today's stage as some of the main favourites to win from the breakaway. Rolland can be found at a massive 50/1 with Coral and is certainly worth an E/W bet. Pinot is a more surefire bet for today's break, and as a result, can be found at 18/1 with SkyBet.
Other top candidates for the breakaway today include young Tiesj Benoot, a rider that has been animated in both the sprint stages and mountain stages. He has one of the most attacking mindsets in the peloton and will excel on these rolling roads through the Pyrenees, he can be found at 28/1 with SkyBet.
Primoz Roglic and Warren Barguil are two more riders likely to feature in today's escape. Their priorities may lie with collecting KOM points but they surely wouldn't pass up the opportunity for a stage win if it presented itself. Roglic, in particular, is the king of late attacks and may just spring a surprise near the end of the day.
Barguil can be found at 14/1 with Ladbrokes and Roglic down at 33/1 with Bet365.
Depending on the calibre of the day's breakaway, the big GC teams may just decide to reel it in before the finish, eliminating the danger and offering up the opportunity for one of the big climbers to take a stage win.
Chris Froome only lies 18 seconds ahead of second place Fabio Aru and will surely want to take time today. The Brit is known for his crazy attacks in the Pyrenees and has won a string of stage wins as a result of attacking to gain time. Today could possibly be the day where he asserts his dominance on the Tour, as a result, he can be found at 11/2 with Paddy Power.
Of the other main contenders, it's Fabio Aru who looks the strongest on the climbs. 18 seconds down, he'll be eager to take the fight to Froome today and possibly even pull on the yellow jersey by the end of the stage. He has a strong lieutenant in the form of Fuglsang and his team of Astana will undoubtedly have some tricks up their sleeves for the final few climbs.
The Italian champion can be found at 10/1 with Bet365 for the stage win.
Romain Bardet and Dan Martin are two outsiders in the GC that will be looking at the final 2.4km of this stage as a chance to grab an illusive stage win, and with it, a handful of seconds. Martin has the sprint and Bardet the descending prowess, two vital attributes for the culmination of today's stage. Martin is second favourite for the day at 10/1 with BetWay and Bardet can be found a little further off at 12/1 with Bet365.
A real toss up between the breakaway and GC today undoubtedly leaves the bookies torn with their odds. Pierre Rolland at 50/1 is just too good to pass up on and definitely worth an E/W bet. Other break candidates to cover will be, Roglic (33/1), Benoot (28/1) and Caruso (33/1).
In case the GC contenders do pull the breakaway back, I'll be on Dan Martin to take a stage win or podium on the day, 10/1 E/W.
Words By: Inside The Peloton