We are in for the first mountain top finish at this year’s edition.
It is long but not steep. Normally, we do not see a lot of time gaps here. Last year we saw it can be valuable to have a strong team in order to attack very late, that is how Vingegaard secured the win last time. It is also on a bald mountain, which means the wind will play a role.
Not very windy which means we are not likely to see echelons. On Jebel Jais, there is almost no wind at all.
How will the race unfold?
I think we will see a breakaway go up the road with not a high chance of succeeding. Afterward, I think we will see UAE set up a train and gradually set it up for Pogacar.
Where it gets dangerous is when there are no more domestiques to help. Then teams with multiple options will start to threaten the others.
Most likely will we see UAE control and when they are out of people to pull, Pogacar will attack. Then we will have to see, who can follow.
Pogacar is the man to beat here. Extremely gifted and has a good sprint in the end. He has the best team around him, and potentially I could see them use Almeida late into the stage if he has the legs. That is what I would do, to force Vlasov and Yates to do some work.
Yates was third here last time. I think it is very plausible to say he will finish around that same result again. The climb is too easy for him to win and he does not have the same sprint as Pogacar.
Vlasov is in very good shape. What will he do? I think he should follow Pogacar and Yates, they are the favorites. If they start looking at each other, then it is time for him to go.
Dumoulin with a strong TT. I’m happy to see him back. He will most likely not win, as it often comes down to a reduced bunch sprint by the climbers.
Bahrain have Mäder and Bilbao. They can do, what Jumbo-Visma did last year. Will they succeed? I doubt it, as UAE should have to options late into the finish too.
Jan Hirt – the mountain is too easy.
Masnada looked good in Oman but not good enough to fight for a stage win here.
Bardet – I doubt he is in top shape this early. I can’t see him winning.
Who will win?
I’m taking a win for Pogacar.