The last one for the sprinters. Let’s see if it will be an ordinary sprint stage. The first half of the stage is quite flat, but the second half is quite hilly.
Again, the riders head south.
Just how hard is the last 90 km?
It is here all the climbing meters are – or almost all of them. 1500 climbing meters. It is up or down most of the time. The interesting part comes with 25 km left. We have a 2.8 km climb at 5.3%. It could be too hard for some sprinters. Furthermore, we have narrow roads in the last 40 km.
Côte de Le Peyroux with 25 km left.
It is not much, but it can be used by some teams to try and distance the heavy sprinters. I imagine some teams will try to make a move, also to stay in front before the road gets very narrow at the top, just before they descend. It was last used back in 2014, in Tour du Limousin.
The riders descend on this road.
It is not a very difficult descend, but it is very narrow. Even the Google Maps car has not been out there. From here to 4.5 km out, the roads are not wider than this.
The last two km.
The road rises towards the line with the last 200 meters at 5%. It should not be too hard for the sprinters.
After a day with echelons, the wind does look calmer tomorrow. It will come from the SW, blowing around 3 m/s. That means a headwind for most of the stage. It also means the D22 climb mentioned with 25 km left will be with a headwind.
How will the stage unfold?
I think we have teams who want to put pressure on the fastest riders. We have Cofidis for Coquard, we potentially have Jumbo-Visma for Wout van Aert. While keeping his chances of a stage win high, they also keep Roglic safe. We could have UAE doing the same for Trentin or Molano and Intermarché for Girmay too. I think Jumbo-Visma will hold their horses with a TT on stage 4.
We also have a lot of riders who have lost a bunch of time today. I do not think Jumbo-Visma will chase it down to keep the jersey. With stage 5 and stage 6 coming up, it is not a very time to have the jersey. It will be up to the teams with a sprinter to control it. The question is, how many of them think they can survive?
There is not a decisive climb so to say, but it will be up and down with no time to rest inside the last 90 km. Narrow roads inside the last 25 km will make the pace higher too. I am left behind with the question, who wants to control the stage? It is the last sprint stage – that means someone is up for it. It is a five-minute effort and I think Cofidis will try to make a move there.
Jakobsen did not miss the splits today. I had my doubts. I think the team played a major role, but he still had to push the pedals. In the sprint, it was close to going wrong, but he is just much faster than the others. If he makes it tomorrow, he will likely win.
Phillipsen did not make the split today. All I can find is “another tough stage in the books” from their team announcement after the stage. It is their last chance tomorrow for a win with Phillipsen, they will likely pull all day for him.
Pedersen with an unfortunate mechanical in the sprint today. Could he have won? Likely not. I think it would have been enough for the podium, which I think he will aim for tomorrow. I think the team will ride for him too.
Wout van Aert did not have the speed to win today. He must drop Jakobsen and Phillipsen, the others he can probably beat. I am not sure what Jumbo-Visma will do tomorrow. Will they push on the climb? They have the team to do so, or will they save energy for the time trial?
Coquard will like tomorrow’s stage. I think Cofidis will try and attack the climb, just like they did in Tour de la Provence on stage 2. An uphill sprint is also very good for him. I think he will finish on the podium if it comes down to a bunch sprint.
Girmay was part of a crash today while he was in the front group. He loves a hilly stage and sprint after a hard day. Intermarché will look for a result with him.
Trentin – Breakaway option #1. He crashed today and bend his helmet, we will have to see if he starts tomorrow.
Anthony Turgis – Breakaway option #2. He got mechanical while he was in the front group. He is looking good at the moment.
Pacher – Breakaway option #3. He has looked strong in the early part of the season. Lost a lot of time today.
Louvel – lost a lot of time on the first stage, but did a lot of work for Nairoman in the echelons today.
Who will win?
With 1700 climbing meters and no really decisive climb, I think the sprinters will take their win. It is their last chance. The breakaway will have their shot on stage 5 and stage 6.
I will be boring and go for Wout van Aert. I think the pure sprinters will be a bit fatigued in the finale.