NBC Sports Tour De France 2012: Riders Most Likely to Win Stage 18

Tim KeeneyContributor IJuly 19, 2012

FOIX, FRANCE - JULY 15:  Peter Sagan of Slovakia and the Liquigas-Cannondale team retained his green points jersey after stage fourteen of the 2012 Tour de France from Limoux to Foix on July 15, 2012 in Foix, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Make way for the sprinters.

With the conclusion of Stage 17 the riders are out of the mountains, and with just two flat stages and one individual time trial left, Paris is in their sight. 

Bradley Wiggins, who now leads Vincenzo Nibali by two minutes and 41 seconds, is all but a lock to hold onto the Yellow Jacket and win the Tour de France, but plenty of men are still looking to add these last few stages to their list of achievements. 

Stage 18 in particular is the most intriguing of the final three stages. It is the longest of the entire race, stretching 222.5 kilometers from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde, and the best sprinters in the world will have to put in some solid work to win the stage.

Let's take a look at those who have the best chance. 


Mark Cavendish

The 2011 Points Classification winner hasn't been nearly as successful with his sprints this year, but it's still impossible to completely count Cav out in a flat stage. 

Last year, the 27-year-old won five stages at the Tour de France. In 2010, he won five. In 2009, he won six. Throughout his career he's won 21.

This guy is absolutely blazing fast, and even though he's struggled in 2012 and is out of contention for the Points Classification, it would be a mistake to bet against him. 


Andre Greipel

The 30-year-old Greipel is really making a name for himself as a threatening sprinter this season. The Lotto-Belisol team member won his first stage at the Tour de France last year, but he's already added three to his resume this month. 

Greipel won Stages 4, 5 and 13. Two of those—No. 4 and 13—happen to be the second and third longest sprint stages of the Tour. If that is any indication, Greipel will run away with yet another win on Friday. 


Peter Sagan

Speaking of making a name for himself, here we have Peter Sagan. 

The 22-year-old—who has nicknames such as The Terminator, Rambo and Cannibal—has proven himself to be an absolute force, winning three stages and absolutely running away with the Green Jacket. 

He currently leads Greipel by over 100 in the Points Classification, but don't think that means the young ball of energy is going to race at anything less than full blast. 

Don't be surprised if Sagan adds another stage win to his impressive list of accomplishments.