An interesting stage. With only two difficult stages this year, one must assume there will be some kind of attempt to shake things up in order to get bonus seconds at the finish line. We have 3128 climbing meters and a mountain that ends four kilometers from the finish line.
The final consist of climbing and a flat sprint. Let’s start off with the climb. It starts with 1.5 km at 8.4%, followed by a short plateau of 500 meters. After that, it kicks up for 2.6 km at 6.3%. It is not the most difficult climb and as the finish is not at its top, I doubt we will see any real damage being dealt with in the GC.
The last four km
This is from the top of the climb to the finish line. Very rolling terrain, with a few options for late attacks. At this point, the GC teams might slow down a bit and the sprinters are not yet organized to do a lead-out. Furthermore, your tactic will determine the outcome, the finale is very tricky, as it bends within the last 100 meters after a downhill to pick up speed. If you get the best racing line, there is little the others can do.
A sunny day, 20 degrees Celcius are barely any wind to make a difference. The riders will have a light tailwind on the finale climb (2-3 m/s), but in a heavily forested area, it will likely not mean much.
How does the strongest teams want this stage to develop? Movistar, INEOS, Bahrain-Victorious and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl should look to make it as hard as possible, while UAE both have Ayuso and Gibbons.
Valverde and Movistar should look to set up the veteran. He will need the bonus seconds to have a small advantage before stage 3. They bring a strong team and they should be able to somewhat control the race and finale.
Gibbons might not be at the top of the hierarchy with Trentin and Ayuso present too. However, he is going very well at the moment. A second place in Trofeo Alcúdia – Port d’Alcúdia and 12th the day after on the mountainous route at Trofeo Seera de Tramuntana. He is in good climb form and quick.
Juan Ayuso is the big question mark for me. Just how good is he? He has a good punch but a flat technical finale is not something I believe he will excel at. I hope he proves me wrong, but I hope they ride for Gibbons.
Matej Mohoric is also a dangerous man. Last year in Tour de Pologne, he proved just how well he can climb and sprint after a long day. The big problem is his form. He is normally not flying from the start of the season and he could be in the service of Teuns or Bilbao.
Vendrame is in the same boat as Mohoric, he normally does not perform very well early in the season. On paper, he should be one of the faster riders for this type of finish. When in shape, he would be a serious contender. Tomorrow will tell, how well he is doing.
Hoelgaard is a rider I am looking forward to see. A sprinter with endurance. Very fast and can cope with climbs. It will be his first race on Trek-Segafredo so I assume he will work for Ciccone. He does not have a lot of good results outside Norway, something I hope to see change.
Evenepoel could with an attack hope to get seconds on his rivals. The best thing for him would be to finish within the top-3 which will be very difficult in a reduced sprint. I imagine he will attack.
Luis Leon Sanchez – Late attack option #1.
Honore – Late attack option #2.
Who will win?
With more teams wanting a harder race, and Evenepoel’s urge to attack in order to get the best out of the stage, the veteran is my pick. He is in good shape, which is not something you currently can say regarding a lot of riders at the start line without race days.