3595 climbing meters.
The first stage of this year’s edition will see a finish we saw two years ago in Iznájar. The last half of the stage is a replica of the stage two seasons ago, only the starting city has changed which means we will see a mountain very early in the stage. This is a good place for a breakaway to get formed which can consist of strong climbers – some teams will not like this.
Two years ago, they came further from the norm in Sevilla. The last 60 km are the same. It will finish in Iznájar, a very tricky finish where Serrano won last time. We also have a cat-3 climb fairly close to the finish.
Puerto de El Boyar is the morning climb. With a flat section at the start, it is a bit misleading. The last 10 km are 6%, which is very tough.
Alto La Parrilla tops 13 km from the finish. In 2020, we saw attacks from multiple teams wanting a lead ahead of the finish. I think we will see something similar, attacks close to the summit.
From the summit, this is the journey to the line. The descent is not too difficult, but the road is quite narrow. There is a short hill to attack on the descend. Then we will have a battle for positioning over the bridge before the last km.
Subida a Iznájar is the last km. Serrano attacked from the bottom and never looked back. Some GC riders played mind games which allowed him to win. Behind him was Lobato and Teuns. It is a 1:30 minute effort, and what I certainly have learned from Etoile de Besseges is that sprinters can cope with this – if they are still in the peloton.
Nice weather and almost no wind.
Woods should start as the favorite for tomorrow’s stage. As mentioned in the GC Preview, he does not have a strong team. But he does have Simon Clarke. As the finishing climb requires positioning, I fear a bit for his chances. Nonetheless, it is a good finish for him.
Cosnefroy is another solid uphill sprinter. He has Naesen x2, GvA and O’Connor – so he should have some support in the finale. It picks up a bit tomorrow towards the line, something I do not see as an advantage for him.
Serrano won here last year. Primarily because they were playing poker amongst the favorites. It is likely he will give it another try tomorrow.
Yates should be up there too. I think it is too easy for him to win, but I doubt they can distance him too much.
Covi is the rider I’m looking most forward to tomorrow. Will he take another big step in his progression? He is a puncher after all.
Girmay – I think it is too hard for him but I really do hope he proves me wrong.
Honoré – Late attack #1
Lutsenko – Late attack #2
Simon Clarke – Late attack #3
Who will win?
Michael Woods. I think the Canadian looks forward to this finish tomorrow. He should be the best here, on paper, on these gradients towards the end.