Well, stage 9 certainly didn’t disappoint, we got the sorting of the GC that was promised, although, not in the most satisfying way.
Both Thomas and Porte crashing out is a bitter pill and the race will suffer for it. Having both second place on GC, and the pre-race favourite (who’d survived the difficult part of the stage in contact with Froome) crash out is sure to make the race less exciting going into the final week. Froome will miss the support of Thomas, and BMC are now rudderless, having built their entire campaign around Porte.
As for the other favorites, Quintana failed to fire, dropping time, but managing to limit his losses. It looks like carrying a Giro in his legs is taking it’s toll.
Contador had a shocking ride, after setting up the stage for a long range attack, he cracked early and lost significant time, effectively putting him out of contention. You can never write him off completely though. He’ shown in the past that he only needs a single good day to obliterate the field in the mountains, but I think age is catching up with him.
So we are left with Aru, Bardet and Uran, as the main obstacles to a fourth tour win for Froome. All three will need to make up further time on Froome if they want to wear the yellow in Paris, as Froome can safely expect to pull back a minute or more on each of them in the final time trial.
Aru looks to be the strongest of them. He has rode incredibly well in the mountains so far, and has youth on his side to aid in recovery. I’d really like to see Bardet fulfilled his potential though. It’s been a long time since a Frenchman has one their home tour, and Bardet is in a good position this year, with form and a strong team to support him.