Since the last stage in Paris will be the usual ceremonial affair, Saturday's time trial will be the last general classification of the 2018 Tour de France. If nothing out of the ordinary happens, Geraint Thomas will be crowned overall World Champion by Team Sky, but there are still places to fight.
The 31-kilometer test from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette brings the peloton to the French Basque Country. The race has been around the region many times, but it is the first visit since the start of the stage at Cambo-les-Bains, just one road off the time trial.
The course is typically Basque with rolling roads and sharp climbs that already squeeze tired legs. The weather is typically Basque with rain showers that populate the streets and contribute to an already difficult challenge. The time trial begins and ends in the heart of the French Basque Country, the first rider is replaced at 1
Also known as Senpere in the Basque language, the city lies on the Nivelle River, which leads west and out into the Bay of Biscay. The drivers will go in the other direction: east to Espelette – or Ezpeleta -, known for the production of chili pepper, which is used in many dishes of the region.
There is a direct road from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette, but the track is technically demanding and exhausting – much more than last year in Marseille
The first climb almost welcomes the drivers immediately before they equalize in Hergaray, four kilometers. There are still three kilometers of rolling roads before a short descent and another strong climb to the first checkpoint at 13 kilometers, and the road continues to rise for another four.
The relentless up and down does not stop, with another descent and rises 22 kilometers after the day to Checkpoint 2. The most difficult test takes place just a few kilometers from the finish with the 900 meter Col de Pinodieta. It could be short, but it's an average of 10.2 percent, and will be a hammer blow for anyone who's already at the limit.
"It's a very tough time trial" Bob Jungels of Quick-Step said Cyclingnews . "We did a reconnaissance shortly after the Critérium du Dauphiné, a nice time-trial in the Basque Country style with many ups and downs, small roads and steep climbs that make it difficult.
" There is a very steep final Rise, and I think that will make a big difference if you go too deep before. If you have a bit of a bad day then I think you could lose a lot of time.
"I have to see how I am doing," said Jungels. "I had a very good first week, and I can not really explain what has happened in the last two weeks, but we will see how I feel in the time trial." Although it's a tough test, we can expect all riders to be on time bikes, though gear selection might be the key to laying out the maximum possible power.
The Lie of the Country
Thomas will be the last driver of the ramp and is in a very comfortable position with a 2:05 lead over Sunwebs Tom Dumoulin, having won a few bonus seconds on Friday in Laruns.
Thomas is a very strong time-trialist, although World Champion Dumoulin is the big favorite for the stage, and probably will take the time out of the Welsh. However, Thomas should be spaced enough to keep him safe and ready to drive in Yellow on Sunday in Paris.
"Tom is always good in the confused time trial classes, where the pace is difficult, and has shown that he can win any kind of course, but most of all, this kind of course," said Dumoulins Sunweb team-mate Chad Haga opposite Cyclingnews . "When everyone is riding at a normal level, he can take his time, but I do not see that Tom is in yellow, but crazy things have happened.
" I'm looking forward to it – for me and for Tom, to see what he can do it, "Haga continued. I do not think too much about it because it's the last day before Paris, so you have to race it with your legs and give it everything because it's nothing to save yourself from.
Dumoulin will be hit in the time trial mainly by the man behind him, Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo, who is only 19 seconds back in the standings, but a mechanical problem could have catastrophic consequences for second place.Roglic will again have to keep an eye on fourth-placed Chris Froome if he wants to keep his place on the podium.
Many were expecting title holder Froome to pull something out of his pocket this week, but instead he was watching in the last few days With a 2:37 lead over his team-mate Thomas, Froome finally defeated after the final mountain stage, although he still has a chance of making it back onto the podium, only 13 seconds to Roglic but the Slovene is not against the clock.
Further down the table, the composition of the top 10 is unlikely to change too much, w In the 11th place, Jungels is ranked four minutes behind the 10-placed Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), who is ninth a minute and a half behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
The time trial is not Quintana's strength, and though he is ninth place could be threatened by Zakarin, he will probably not give more than five minutes for Jungels, especially with this hilly terrain.
Zakarin is likely to be the best-placed driver in the standings, although he is only one place ahead thanks to a placement of the eighth-placed Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), who is too far away can drive five minutes before the Russians.
The gap between Martin in eighth place and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) in fifth place is just a shade over two minutes, and in between there are chances for a change. Kruijswijk is not a specialist, but he can hold his own in a TT, while Mikel Landa (Movistar), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Martin are not well-known time triallists, to put it mildly. You could still switch places if one of them has a bad day after going too deep into the mountains.
The stage victory is likely to be decided between the overall contenders, without well-known TT specialists remaining in the field after the departure of Katushas Tony Martin in the first week. Bora-Hansgrohe's Maciej Bodnar won the "race of truth" last year in Marseille and although we can expect a good performance on Saturday, he will hardly bother the top riders.
Dumoulin must be the clear favorite in his rainbow skinsuit, but Roglic made great strides in the discipline and was able to push him hard.
Start times (all CET)
|1||Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p / b Cannondale||12:00:00|
|2||Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA) Groupama-FDJ||12:01:30|| 3||Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimensions||12:03:00|
|4||Jasper De Buyast (Bel) Lotto Soudal||12:04:30|| 5||Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||Amund Grändahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo||12:07: 30|
|7||Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||12:09:00|
|8||Roberto Ferrari (Ita) United Arab Emirates Team Emirates  12: 10:30|
|9||Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors||12:12 : 00|| 10||Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ||12:13:30|
|11||Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energy||12: 15:00|
|12||Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||12:16:30|
|13||Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p / b Cannondale||12:18:00|
|14||Lukas Pstlberger (Author) Bora-Hansgrohe||12:19:30|
|15||Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert||12:21:00|
|16  Tom Scully (NZL) EF training First-Drapac p / b Cannondale||12:22:30|
|17||Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky||12:24:00 |
|18||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||12:25:30 |
|19  Olivier Le Gac (France) Groupama-FDJ||12:27:00|
|20||Marco Marcato (Ita) United Arab Emirates Emirates||12: 28: 3 0|
|21||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida||12:30:00|
|22||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe||12: 31:30|
|23||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions credits||12:33: 00|
|24||Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  12:34:30|
|25||Luke Durbridge (Aus ) Mitchelton-Scott||12:36:00|
|26||Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott||12:37:30|
|27||Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energy||12:39:00|
|28||Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty -Groupe Gobert||12:40:30|
|29||Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions credits||12 : 42: 00|
|30||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors||12:43:30|
|31  Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates [1 9659028] 12:45:00|
|32||Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p / b Cannondale Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||12:48:00|
|34||Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo||12:49:30|
|35  John Degenkolb (Germany) Trek-Segafredo||12:51:00|
|36||Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimensions||12:52:30 |
|37||Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||12:54:00|
|38||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Merida||12:55:30|| 39||Simon Gerrans (AUS) BMC Racing Team||12:57:00|
|40||Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal||12:59:00|
|41||Rory Sutherland (From) United Arab Emirates Team||13:01:00|
|42||Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  13:03:00|
|43||Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar team Cofidis, Solutions Acknowledgments||13:07:00|
|45||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida||13:09:00|
|46||Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p / b Cannondale||13:11:00|
|47||Florian Vachon (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||13:13: 00|
|48||Laurent Pichon (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||13:15:00|
|49||Dion Smith (NZl ) Wanty group Gobert||13:17:00|| 50||Kevin Ledanois (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||13:19:00|
|51||Marcus Burghardt (Germany) Bora-Hansgrohe||13:21:00 |
|52||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty Group Gobert||13:23:00|
|53||Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe||19659028] 13:25:00|
|54||Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energy||13:27: 00|
|55||Edward Theun's (Bel) Team Sunweb||19659028] 13:29:00 |
|56||Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty Group Gobert||13:31:00|
|57||Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energy||13:33:00|
|58||Michael Scherr (Swi) BMC Racing Team||13:35:00||Katusha-Alpecin||13:37:00|
|60||Elie Gesbert (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||13:39:00|
|61||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Yet) Dimension Data||13:41:00|
|62||Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions credits||13:43:00|
|63||Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo||13:45:00||[SilvanDillier(Switzerland)AG2RLaMondiale||13:47:00|| 65.|
|64||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors||13:49:00|
|66||Paul Martens (Dt) LottoNL-Jumbo||13:51:00 19659027]|
|67||Ian Boswell (USA) Katusha-Alpecin||13:53:00|
|68||Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo||13:55: 00|
|69||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team||13:57:00|
|70||Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimensions||13:59: 00|
|71||Tobias Ludvigsson (Sweden) Groupama-FDJ||14:01: 00|
|72||Gregor Mühlberger (Aut.) Bora-Hansgrohe||14|
|73||Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energy  14:05:00|
|74||Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb||14: 07: 00|
|75||Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky||14:09:00|
|76||Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe||19659028] 14:11:00|
|77||Nikias Arndt (D) Team Sunweb||14:13:00|
|78||Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Emirates Team||14:15:00|
|79||Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team||14: 17:00|
|80||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale||14:19:00|
|81||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal||14:21:00|
|82||Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team||14:23:00 [ 8359027]|
|83||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||14:25:00|
|84||Marco Mi nnaard (Ned) Wanty group Gobert||14:27:00|
|85||Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin||14:29:00|
|86||Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||14:31:00|
|87||Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky||14:33 : 00|
|88  T om-Jelt Slagter (Ned) Dimensions||14:35:00|
|89||Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty Group Gobert||14:37:00|
|90||Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team||14:39: 00|
|91||Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana pro team||14:41:00|| 92||Stefan KŸng (Switzerland) BMC Racing Team||14 : 43: 00|
|93||Sören Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb||14:45:00|
|94||Mathias Frank (Switzerland) AG2R La Mondiale||14:47:00|
|95||Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb||14:49: 00 |
|96||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky||14:51:00|
|97||Andrey Amador (CRc) Team Movistar||19659028] 14:53: 00|
|98||Jesus Herada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Thanks||14:55:00|
|99||Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Co Fidis, Solutions Credits||14:57:00|
|100||Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||15:01:00|
|102. 19659028] 14:59:00|
|101||Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team||15:03:00|
|103  Maxim e Bouet (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||15:05:00|
|104||Amael Moinard (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||15:07: 00|
|105||Arthur Vichot (Miss) Groupama-FDJ||15:09:00|
|106||Sylvain Chavanel (Miss ) direct energy||15:11:00|
|107||Rudy Molard (Miss) Groupama-FDJ||15:13:00|
|108||Kristijan Durasek (Cro) United Arab Emirates Team Emirates||15:15:00|| 109||Daniel Martin (Irl) United Arab Emirates Team Emirates||15:17 : 00|
|110||Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Ju mbo||15:19:00|
|111||Julien Bernard (France) Trek-Segafredo||15:21:00|
|112||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||15:23:00|
|113||Julian Aaphilippe (France) Quick-Step Floors||15:25:00|
|114||Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||15:27:00|
|116  Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott||15:31 : 00|
|117||Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energy||15:33:00|
|118  Greg Van Avermaet Bel) BMC Racing Team||15:35:00|
|119||Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p / b Cannondale||15:37: 00|
|120||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo||15:39:00|
|12 1||Simon Geschke (D) Team Sunwe b||15:41:00|
|122||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida||15:43:00|
|123||Mikel Nieve (spa) Mitchelton-Scott||15:45:00|
|124||Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida||15:47:00|
|125||Damiano Caruso (19659027) Ita) BMC Racing Team||15:49:00|
|126||Guillaume Martin (France) Wanty-Groupe Gobert||15:51:00|
|127||Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  15:53:00|
|128||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||15:55:00|
|129  Warren Barguil (France) Fortuneo-Samsic||15:57:00|
|1 30||Tanel Kangert (East) Astana Pro Team||15:59:00|
|131||Egan Bernal (Col.) Team Sky||16:01:00|
|132||Team Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar||16:03:00|
|133||Pierre Latour (France) AG2R La Mondiale||16:05:00|
|134||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||16:07:00 |
|135||Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors||16:09:00|
|136||Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katuscha-Alpecin||16:11 : 00|
|137||Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team||16:13:00|
|138||Daniel Martin Irl) UAE team Emirates||16: 15:00|
|139||Romain Bardet (France) AG2R La Mondiale [1 9659028] 16:17:00|
|140||Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team||16: 19: 00|
|141  Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||16:21:00|
|142||Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky||16:23 : 00|
|143||Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo||16:25:00|
|144||Tom Dumoulin Ned) Team Sunweb||16:27:00|
|145||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky||16:29:00|