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Tour de France: Dumoulin favourite for Saturday's TT – Preview with start times

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Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) wins the opening time trial at the Giro d'Italia

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) wins the opening time trial at the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Team Sky's Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) on the attack near the end of stage 14 at the Tour de France

Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) on the attack near the end of stage 14 at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Read about Quick-Step Floors' Bob Jungels' ambitions for the Tour de France

Read about Quick-Step Floors' Bob Jungels' ambitions for the Tour de France (Image credit: Procycling)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was torn up in a crash on stage 18

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was torn up in a crash on stage 18 (Image credit: Getty Images)

With the final stage in Paris set to be the usual ceremonial affair, Saturday's time trial stage will be the last general classification contest of the 2018 Tour de France. Barring anything unusual happening, Team Sky's Geraint Thomas looks set to be crowned the overall champion, but there are still places to be fought for.

The 31-kilometre test from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette brings the peloton into the French Basque Country. The race has skirted the region many times, but it is the first visit since the stage start in Cambo-les-Bains – just up the road from the time trial finish – in 2006.

The parcours is typically Basque with rolling roads and sharp climbs that will sap already tired legs. The weather is typically Basque too with rain showers dousing the roads, adding to an already difficult challenge. The time trial starts and finishes in the heart of the French Basque Country, with the first rider rolling out of Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle at midday.

Also known as Senpere in the Basque language, the town sits on the Nivelle river, which heads west and out into the Bay of Biscay. The riders will head the other way: east to Espelette – or Ezpeleta – known for its production of the chilli pepper used in many of the region's dishes. 

There is a direct road from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette, but the course takes the scenic route in what should be a technical, as well as gruelling, test – much more so than last year's shorter offering in Marseille.

The first climb greets the riders almost immediately before levelling out at Hergaray, four kilometres in. There are another three kilometres of rolling roads before a short descent and another sharp rise to the first checkpoint at 13 kilometres, and the road continues rising for another four. 

The relentless up and down doesn't stop, with another descent and rise to checkpoint two, 22 kilometres into the day. The sternest test comes only a few kilometres from the finish with the 900-metre-long Col de Pinodieta. It might be short, but it averages 10.2 per cent, and will be a hammer blow to anyone already on the limit.

"It's a very hard time trial," Quick-Step's Bob Jungels told Cyclingnews. "We did a recon just after the Critérium du Dauphiné. It's a pretty Basque Country-style time trial, with lots of ups and downs, small roads and steep climbs, which won't make it easy.

"There's a very steep last climb, and I think that's going to make a big difference if you go too deep before then. If you have a little bit of a bad day, then I think that you could lose a lot of time.

"I'll have to see how I feel," said Jungels. "I had a very good first week, and I can't really explain what has happened in the two last weeks, but we'll see in the time trial how I feel."

While it's a tough test, we can nevertheless expect all riders to be on time trial bikes, although gearing choices could be key to laying out the maximum power possible. 

The lie of the land

Thomas will be the last rider off the ramp, and sits in a very comfortable position with a 2:05 lead over Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin after nabbing a few bonus seconds on Friday's finish in Laruns.

Thomas is a very strong time triallist, although world champion Dumoulin is the big favourite for the stage, and is likely to take time out of the Welshman. However, Thomas' gap should be plenty enough to keep him safe and ready to ride into Paris in yellow on Sunday. 

"Tom is always really good on the lumpy time trial courses where pacing is difficult. He's shown that he can win on any type of course, but particularly that type of course," Dumoulin's Sunweb teammate Chad Haga told Cyclingnews. "If everybody rides at a normal level then he can take time, but I don't see Tom being in yellow. But crazier things have happened.

"I'm excited for it – for me and for Tom, to see what he can do on it," continued Haga. "I'm not thinking about it too much because it's the last day before Paris, so you've just got to race it with whatever legs you have, and give it everything because there's nothing to save yourself for."

Dumoulin's main concern in the time trial will be the man behind him – LottoNL-Jumbo's Primoz Roglic – who is just 19 seconds further back in the overall standings. Ordinarily, Dumoulin should be more than safe, but a mechanical issue could spell disaster for his runner-up spot. In turn, Roglic will have to keep fourth-placed Chris Froome in mind if he is to keep his place on the podium. 

Many expected defending Tour champion Froome to pull something out of the bag in this final week, but instead he's looked in trouble in recent days. With a 2:37 gap back to his teammate Thomas, Froome finally admitted defeat following the final mountain stage, although he still has a chance of making it back onto the rostrum. The gap is just 13 seconds to Roglic, but the Slovenian is no slouch against the clock.

Further down the standings, the make-up of the top 10 is unlikely to change too much, if at all, with Jungels in 11th place more than four minutes behind 10th-placed Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), who's a further minute-and-a-half behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in ninth.

Time trialling is not Quintana's forte, and although his ninth place could be under threat from Zakarin, he's unlikely to give away more than five minutes to Jungels, particularly with this rolling terrain. 

Zakarin is therefore likely to be the rider with the best shot of gaining places in the general classification, although he can only realistically move up one spot thanks to eighth-placed Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) just too far away, over five minutes in front of the Russian.

The gap between Martin in eighth and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) in fifth place is just a shade over two minutes, and there are chances for change in between. 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 noted time triallists, to put it kindly. They could still trade places if one of them has a bad day after going too deep in the mountains. 

The stage win is likely to be decided between the overall contenders with no big-name TT specialists left in the peloton after the departure of Katusha's Tony Martin in the first week. Bora-Hansgrohe's Maciej Bodnar won last year's 'race of truth' in Marseille, and although we can expect a good performance on Saturday, he's unlikely to trouble the top riders. 

Dumoulin has to be the clear favourite in his rainbow skinsuit, but Roglic has been making great strides in the discipline and could push him hard.

Start times (all CET)

#Rider Name (Country) TeamTime
1Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale12:00:00
2Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ12:01:30
3Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data12:03:00
4Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal12:04:30
5Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ12:06:00
6Amund Gr¿ndahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo12:07:30
7Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo12:09:00
8Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates12:10:30
9Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors12:12:00
10Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ12:13:30
11Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie12:15:00
12Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates12:16:30
13Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale12:18:00
14Lukas Pšstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe12:19:30
15Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert12:21:00
16Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale12:22:30
17Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky12:24:00
18Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits12:25:30
19Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ12:27:00
20Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates12:28:30
21Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida12:30:00
22Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe12:31:30
23Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits12:33:00
24Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott12:34:30
25Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott12:36:00
26Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott12:37:30
27Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie12:39:00
28Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert12:40:30
29Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits12:42:00
30Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors12:43:30
31Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates12:45:00
32Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale12:46:30
33Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe12:48:00
34Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo12:49:30
35John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo12:51:00
36Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data12:52:30
37Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott12:54:00
38Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida12:55:30
39Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing Team12:57:00
40Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal12:59:00
41Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates13:01:00
42Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic13:03:00
43Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team13:05:00
44Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits13:07:00
45Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida13:09:00
46Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale13:11:00
47Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic13:13:00
48Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic13:15:00
49Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert13:17:00
50Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic13:19:00
51Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe13:21:00
52Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert13:23:00
53Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe13:25:00
54Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energie13:27:00
55Edward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb13:29:00
56Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert13:31:00
57Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie13:33:00
58Michael SchŠr (Swi) BMC Racing Team13:35:00
59Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin13:37:00
60Elie Gesbert (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic13:39:00
61Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data13:41:00
62Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits13:43:00
63Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo13:45:00
64Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale13:47:00
65Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors13:49:00
66Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo13:51:00
67Ian Boswell (USA) Katusha-Alpecin13:53:00
68Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo13:55:00
69Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team13:57:00
70Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data13:59:00
71Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ14:01:00
72Gregor MŸhlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe14:03:00
73Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie14:05:00
74Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb14:07:00
75Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky14:09:00
76Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe14:11:00
77Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb14:13:00
78Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates14:15:00
79Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team14:17:00
80Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale14:19:00
81Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal14:21:00
82Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team14:23:00
83Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo14:25:00
84Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert14:27:00
85Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin14:29:00
86Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida14:31:00
87Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky14:33:00
88Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data14:35:00
89Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert14:37:00
90Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team14:39:00
91Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana Pro Team14:41:00
92Stefan KŸng (Swi) BMC Racing Team14:43:00
93S¿ren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb14:45:00
94Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale14:47:00
95Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb14:49:00
96Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky14:51:00
97Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team14:53:00
98Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits14:55:00
99Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits14:57:00
100Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott14:59:00
101Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits15:01:00
102Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team15:03:00
103Maxime Bouet (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic15:05:00
104Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic15:07:00
105Arthur Vichot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ15:09:00
106Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie15:11:00
107Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ15:13:00
108Kristijan Durasek (Cro) UAE Team Emirates15:15:00
109Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates15:17:00
110Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo15:19:00
111Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo15:21:00
112David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ15:23:00
113Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors15:25:00
114Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team15:27:00
115Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo15:29:00
116Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott15:31:00
117Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie15:33:00
118Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team15:35:00
119Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale15:37:00
120Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo15:39:00
121Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb15:41:00
122Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida15:43:00
123Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott15:45:00
124Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida15:47:00
125Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team15:49:00
126Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert15:51:00
127Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe15:53:00
128Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida15:55:00
129Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic15:57:00
130Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team15:59:00
131Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky16:01:00
132Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team16:03:00
133Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale16:05:00
134Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team16:07:00
135Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors16:09:00
136Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin16:11:00
137Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team16:13:00
138Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates16:15:00
139Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale16:17:00
140Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team16:19:00
141Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo16:21:00
142Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky16:23:00
143Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo16:25:00
144Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb16:27:00
145Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky16:29:00


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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.