- The pressure is on two time defending Tour de France Champion Tadej Pogacar when riders tackle their final major mountain day on Stage 18 (Thursday, July 21)
- A strong day from race leader Jonas Vingegaard would put him in great shape to win the Yellow Jersey
- Check below for our updated Tour de France Stage 18 odds and analysis
How do you both win and lose simultaneously? Wednesday Tadej Pogacar took stage 17 of the Tour de France. However, his 2:22 deficit to Jonas Vingegaard shrunk by only four seconds. He needs to pick up a minute or more on the final major climbing day of the race Thursday. After Stage 18, only a flat day, an individual time trial, and the ceremonial final stage remain.
While making up 2:18 seems lofty, Stage 18 (7:30 am ET) is the type of test that could be full of thrills or agony. The second half of the 143.2 km trek from Lourdes to Hautacam features a Category 1 climb, and two HC’s. While a breakaway is possible, and climbing specialists will be in the mix, it feels like a day that the two contending GC riders will hash out among themselves. Let’s consider the chances of Pogacar, Vingegaard, and their competition.
Tour de France Stage 18 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win Stage 18|
|Enric Mas Nicolau||+2800|
Odds as of July 20 at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Since Pogacar cracked on Stage 11, Vingegaard has been in control. Once again on Wednesday Pogacar challenged the leader, and while he won the day and picked up four seconds, that sort of minimal overall gain is of little consequence. Thus far Vingegaard has been unshakable when challenged. He leads his only real competition by 2:18, with third place Geraint Thomas 4:56 behind the leader. Nobody else is within seven-and-a-half minutes of the front.
Stage 18 has only minor lumps until about 60 km into the day. Then the Col d’Aubisque comes into view. It is a 16.4 kilometre climb at just over at 7%. Following a massive descent, the Col de Spandelles is a challenging 10.3 km climb at 8.3%. After another lengthy and sharp descent, the finish at the Hautacam ski resort features a climb of 13.6 km and an average gradient of 7.8%. The latter portion of the challenge has gradients that reach over 11% and it is sustained over 10% for 3km.
Pogacar has ample opportunity to push on Thursday. However, Vingegaard has given no indication he is on the brink of collapse. Then again, nobody saw Pogacar crack coming last week. With this being the final day in the mountains, it should be an aggressive and daring stage.
Tour de France Stage 18 Betting Favorites
While who celebrates the overall victory in Paris on Sunday is probably a two horse race at this point, the individual stage is more up for grabs. That said, a final major showdown in the mountains is expected and Pogacar and Vingegaard are the most likely winners.
Like we saw in Stage 17, Pogacar needs to press. Vingegaard can be more than satisfied to give up a few seconds so long as he holds a firm lead. That makes Pogacar the reasonable chalk, particularly since he has risen to the occasion time and time again over the past two years.
The logical alternative to Pogacar is ofcourse his chief rival. Why shouldn’t both riders be all out if they are tight as expected heading towards the finish line? Vingegaard has done nothing wrong for two-and-a-half weeks and could effectively clinch the Yellow Jersey by winning on Thursday.
Pogacar likely has to drop Vingegaard on Thursday if he is going to complete the three-peat. Is that any more likely than Pogacar yielding to the leader? They are the obvious favorites, and with so much on the line tremendous drama is anticipated.
Stage 17 Longshots
There are several scenarios that could lead to an upset. If Pogacar gets dropped, Vingegaard can ease home knowing the win is secure. Alternatively, they could go at each other early, and both suffer, leading to someone else capturing the day. There is also the possibility of a breakaway winning the day, dividing the race into two, and leading the GC riders into their own battle that does not involve stage honors. Finally, a climbing specialist could just be better than the top two overall this year.
Enric Mas is the type of rider who could win in a variety of ways. The runner up in last year’s Vuelta a España is currently in 10th place, more than 10 minutes off the podium.
On his best day Mas can go head-to-head wit the top GC riders. However, because of his current position he could also attack without being deemed an enormous threat, or just sit back and be opportunistic.
Youngster Tom Pidcock won on Alpe d’Huez last week, and could be involved in a breakaway on Thursday.
Pidcock is having a strong year, and has made his mark in his first ever Tour de France. If he won on Alpe d’Huez, he can win Stage 18 too.