• Taylor Phinney at the start of stage 5 of the 2018 Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
American Taylor Phinney is cautious of carnage as the Tour de France peloton braces for combat against cobbles and a potentially decisive day to Roubaix.
By
Sophie Smith

15 Jul 2018 - 8:18 AM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2018 - 10:22 AM

The emerging classics specialist finished a career best eighth at Paris-Roubaix in April and will channel that expertise into protecting overall contender and outright team leader Rigoberto Uran on stage nine tonight (AEST).

Uran (EF Education First – Drapac) is the best-placed title hopeful on the general classification following stage eight and sits sixth overall – 49 seconds behind race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

That is also in the face of teammate Lawson Craddock racing with a broken scapula and Australian Simon Clarke, who suffered skin abrasions in a heavy crash yesterday.

TDF 2018: Stage 8 crash

“My sentiments are strong. I’m looking forward to being on a parcours that is adapted more to a man of my size,” said the 197cm Phinney. “However, we’re going to be looking after a man who is not my size so that is going to add a whole other difficulty to the stage. It’s going to be stressful, it’s going to be a little bit strange, but it will be interesting. I’m sure it will be exciting to watch on television.”

Teams with Tour contenders have offered multiple scenarios and strategies that could play out over the ninth stage and before the first rest day of the 105th edition. For someone like Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), it may be an opportunity to make a play. For others it will more likely be gambling on the safest space to occupy in the peloton - front of the race and risk crashing, or back of the race and risk being held-up by an incident.

Former Paris-Roubaix champion Van Avermaet is in a fine position to retain the maillot jaune and even look at taking a stage win if not called on to assist Richie Porte.

It’s a similar story for Geraint Thomas. Thomas has been a part of Sky’s classics squad for many years. He sits second overall – seven seconds behind Van Avermaet – and could potentially ride into yellow so long as defending champion and teammate Chris Froome is kept out of trouble.

“It’s going to be carnage. There will be meat everywhere,” Phinney said.

 

Catch all the action of this thrilling stage LIVE tonight on SBS from 8.30pm AEST changing to SBS Viceland from 11pm AEST (check your local guides everywhere else). Or stream it via the Tour Tracker from 8.25pm AEST. 

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