Tour de France 2024 | The Tour debates: Who has the most to lose on the white roads?

Tour de France 2024 | The Tour debates: Who has the most to lose on the white roads?
Tour de France 2024 | The Tour debates: Who has the most to lose on the white roads?

Has Girmay already wrapped up the deal for the green jersey?

Biniam Girmay’s lead jumped considerably this Saturday. When he woke up, he was 38 points ahead of Mads Pedersen, who has since left the race. He is now 88 ahead of Jasper Philipsen, an opponent he regularly dominated on the false flat uphill section of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, where the Eritrean became the first rider to double the lead on this Tour. The gap has been made, the psychological ascendancy is taking hold. “Bini” seems very well placed to keep his green jersey until the end.

Eight stages have passed. But for the sprinters, the Tour is already halfway through. This Saturday was their fourth opportunity to win. They still have just as many before the finish. 88 points, that’s almost two wins ahead for the Intermarché-Wanty rider, who knows how to stay in the lead when he doesn’t raise his arms (9th in Saint-Vulbas, 2nd in Dijon). He would therefore have to miss out twice, while seeing Philipsen do a clean sweep, to imagine a revolution in the points classification. The case seems almost over to me. Already.

Girmay: “Thanks to the two Cofidis who took me!”

Be careful not to rush things. Yes, Biniam Girmay has gained a nice lead in the race for the green jersey, which has also lost a serious contender in Mads Pedersen. However, there are still four stages to go that are supposed to end in a mass sprint, which means plenty of opportunities for his competitors to make up the lost time. Winner of this classification last year, Jasper Philipsen has probably not said his last word. If he finally manages to hit the mark next week and if, at the same time, the Eritrean scores few or no points, everything could be restarted.

Beyond the accounting aspect, another question mark remains: will “Bini” be able to finish the Grande Boucle? At 24 years old, the Intermarché-Wanty rider has limited experience in the grand tours, having only completed one since the beginning of his career (Tour 2023). A hearty menu awaits the big thighs, with the Pyrenees in the second week and a long passage in the Alps before arriving in Nice. So beware of the day without which could lead to a late arrival.

Money time king Girmay emerged to beat Philipsen in sprint

Will we finally see Van Aert and Van der Poel?

How long ago it seems, the time when Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel attacked at all costs during the first week of the Tour, sowing chaos in the peloton! This year, the Belgian and the Dutchman have shone with their discretion. This could continue for a while longer as far as the former is concerned. Victim of a serious fall on À travers la Flandre, “WVA” has clearly not found his best level and, moreover, his sports directors will perhaps prefer that he stays with Jonas Vingegaard this Sunday.

On the other hand, we can imagine that “MVDP” will take advantage of the trails crisscrossing the Champagne vineyards to shine. The man who won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the spring has all the qualities required to shine on this 9th stage, which he has undoubtedly marked off in his road book. The Roodhooft brothers will most likely give him a free pass and it would therefore be surprising, even disappointing, not to see the rainbow jersey at the forefront in the Aube.

The pranksters: Van der Poel and Pogacar have fun at the front of the peloton

The two historic rivals of cyclo-cross and Flemish have been very transparent since the start in Florence. Mathieu van der Poel only escaped once, on the Galibier road, and sees himself confined to a role of pilot fish for Philipsen, like last year. Wout Van Aert, for his part, seems more limited by his own legs, as evidenced by his 24th place in the time trial.

But if there is one stage where both men can be at their best, it is Sunday, on the paths of the Aube. Alpecin-Deceuninck will probably give their world champion complete freedom. The Belgian team has many assets, including Axel Laurance, to fire from any angle. And Van Aert can be used by Visma | Lease a Bike as a pawn placed at the front to put pressure on Vingegaard’s opponents. So, why not imagine them fighting for victory together in a breakaway, or failing that in a very reduced peloton?

Wout Van Aert (Visma | Lease a Bike), very discreet since the start of the 2024 Tour de France.

Credit: Getty Images

Who has the most to lose on the white paths?

Tadej Pogacar. The yellow jersey will be in a paradoxical situation on Sunday, on this stage will bring back good memories, the Strade Bianche (which he won twice), with the harshness of the Tuscan hills less. Of the four big names in the general classification, the former winner of the Tour of Flanders is the one who presents the most guarantees on this “terrain”, and by far, by his record and his skill on the bike.

He would even be a serious candidate for victory, if it were a classic and not a stage of a grand tour. As the cliché says, it is a day when you will not win the Tour, but when you can lose it. His posture as a solid yellow jersey does not really invite him to sow chaos, but rather to favor a status quo given the unpredictable nature of the stony sectors, where no one is safe from an incident. Especially since his teammates did not really reassure, Thursday, by being all trapped in a swerve.

Pogacar not a fan of white paths: “It’s going to be stressful, nervous”

Yes, Tadej Pogacar has a lot to lose in the literal sense of the word, since nothing is more precious than the yellow jersey he wears on his shoulders. But there is no need to worry too much about the 25-year-old rider, who is particularly at ease on gravel-type trails. And even if his team does not protect him until the end, he will know how to manage on his own to avoid the traps as best he can.

Jonas Vingegaard will certainly be less at his best this Sunday, he who has never participated in the Strade Bianche. But the Dane will be able to rely on teammates capable of escorting him on this terrain, such as Wout Van Aert, Jan Tratnik or Tiesj Benoot. We are less confident for Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic, a little less well accompanied and who are not really the most agile on a bike. In 2022, the Slovenian had also fallen on the cobblestone stage, losing time and almost annihilating his chances of final victory…

The profile of the 9th stage: beware of the traps of the white paths

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