Tour de France stage 19 preview

Today's stage promises an exciting battle between the breakaway riders and the sprint teams, as the course is well-suited for the breakaway to succeed. The riders who can power through the final climb and either go solo for the win or handle a sprint will have the best chances. Let's delve into the details of the stage and the potential contenders.
The stage takes the peloton on a 172.8km journey with 1,950m of vertical gain between two small towns, Moirans and Poligny. The race begins with a lively start in the picturesque Gorges de l'Ain, featuring a marked climb that culminates in the KoM point. After a twisty descent, the route continues through lumpy rural roads before reaching Champagnole, where the countryside gets flatter, and the streets widen. The riders then head to Salins-les-Bains, known for Jonas Vingegaard's Dauphiné stage win, and encounter the strategic climb near the village of Ivory, previously used in the Dauphiné. While not overly severe, this climb can still pose a challenge, given the fatigue from the previous weeks' racing. A flat run through the wine town of Arbois follows, leading the pack to the finish in Poligny, a charming town known for its wine, Comté cheese, and heritage buildings, albeit in an unremarkable retail and light industrial zone.
The stage offers an interesting dynamic as the sprint teams will run out of riders to chase the breakaway. While Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) are strong contenders for a potential sprint finish, the stage is much more suited to a breakaway scenario. Hence, more riders are expected to go all-in to form the breakaway, potentially overpowering the peloton.
A rider suited for this stage must be able to handle the final climb and be willing to go solo for the win or contest a sprint finish. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) fits this profile perfectly, displaying proficiency in all three aspects. His teammate, Søren Kragh Andersen, previously won a late stage of the Tour de France on similar roads in the Jura in 2020.
Soudal-Quickstep's Rémi Cavagna and Groupama-FDJ's Stefan Küng are potential candidates to try the solo option, but their victory chances might be limited if they face stiff competition. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) is a fast finisher but has been relatively discreet in form so far.
An exciting rider to watch is Total Energies' Mathieu Burgaudeau, who has been close to securing victories on several occasions. Whether he maintains the same form and can convert his potential into a stage win remains.
Ultimately, with the stage well-suited for a breakaway, it will be fascinating to see how the race unfolds, and many small factors could play significant roles in shaping the outcome. The sprint teams might have to reconsider their strategies, and the stage will likely be more unpredictable than it initially appears on paper.