A relatively flat stage with some hills towards the end. We have quite a long stage and almost 2200 climbing meters.
We start in Camaiore and head southeast towards Sovicille.
Are the climbs going to be a problem for the sprinters?
We have this climb but it is still pretty far out.
Another section closer to the finish.
Here, we have two short climbs, but at 5%. A tricky descend before a 3.2 km at 4% climb. The descends are a bit tricky and will stretch things out.
The last 5 km.
The finale is quite simple. A little bend in the road with 750 meters to go.
The wind will blow from the NE all day, up to 5 m/s. It is not France, which means we do not have as many fields. It means we have a headwind on the second section I mentioned.
I think the climbs can be hard enough to drop a sprinter or two, but it should still end in a bunch sprint.
Ewan is climbing very well at the moment. He will be a big favorite for MSR. The hills will not be a problem. Finally, Selig is back in his train after his crash in Saudi Tour. Kluge is here too as third-man and I imagine Sweeny fourth. He has switched quite a bit with his lead out in the early season, we will see how it goes.
Cavendish with Ballerini as his lead-out. Will the climbs be a problem? I doubt with the headwind. He got a nice train, especially if Evenepoel decides to join, then the others do not stand a big chance.
Ackermann – has Richeze. It is enough? No. He did not look like someone who had the power to win in UAE Tour.
Merlier with a rusty start to the season. I expected more. Oldani and Veermerch are likely to help him, but I doubt it is enough. A tailwind sprint is very good news for him, he likes to go early!
Demare with a long lead-out train. He is just not quick enough.
Nizzolo with Dowsett-Impey-Zabel. Pretty good but it will be difficult to win.
Viviani quite alone as usual. It makes it hard to win.
Kristoff will hope for a very hard day. I see it hard for him to win against some of the sprinters here.
Bouhanni is good at positioning himself, which can get him far. But in this field, I doubt he will win.
Who will win?
Ewan might be the fastest, but I think Cavendish has the best lead-out. I think he will take a win.