Who will win Stage 9?
Finally, we have a stage that will help decide the final destination of the Yellow Jersey for 2018. This is not a stage where you can win the Tour, but it is certainly a stage where it can be lost, as skinny GC riders need to tame 22km of cobbles on their way to Roubaix, over fifteen separate sectors, as part of a short-but-hard 156km stage.
Two races will develop: to win the stage, and the race to lose the least among the GC contenders. The first will be contested by veterans of Classics like Paris-Roubaix: current champ Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, and Niki Terpstra. Dark horses include Jasper Stuyven and Yves Lampaert. Our money is on Sagan for the win* – with GvA nearby but not quite fast enough from the small group that will reach the finale – a smattering of Classics specialists and GC contenders (Watch Vincenzo Nibali – he loves this stuff). All of that could be moot, if Quickstep come out fighting – they have more Classics winners than any of the other squads, so Gilbert could be there, with Terpstra, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert and one or two others, and with numerical advantage, and experience, they will be hard to beat. But not impossible, hey Peter?
*Please note the Patriotic SideBet Option: Julien Vermote. Team DiData really needs a win, already!