Another hilly stage in the Basque Country. This stage is a bit easier than stage 3, as we merely have 2700 climbing meters. The two keypoints look to be Urruztimendi and Vivero.
The riders are going towards the coast.
The first one is the Urruztimendi. Short and steep, which the riders will be used to from today. Used once in Vuelta a Espana in 2019. From the top, there is 38 km left.
The last is the Vivero, but from another side that we are used to seeing. Very steep at the bottom (1 km at 14.5% or 2 km at 10.6%), but it has a long false flat. From the top, we have 19 km left.
A bit more windy tomorrow. A mix of crosswind and tailwind the first 125 km. In the last 60 km, the riders have a mix of headwind and crosswind. It will also be warmer, around 18 degrees.
How will the stage unfold?
Today (stage 3) we saw the finale open quite early with INEOS being the main protagonist. Tomorrow, the finale will start later. The last 45 km will be very hard, with double digits. But is it really hard enough to be a GC day? The steep part of the last climb ends with 23 km left. From there, it is quite simple. It is quite similar to stage 3, only that we have 700 climbing meters less. Also, they do not ride them twice.
After seeing today’s stage, somebody will pick it up in the finale. Jumbo-Visma defended themselves yesterday, and I expect Kuss to have a bigger impact tomorrow. Quick-Step raced offensively and will do so tomorrow. INEOS was the one making the difference, but the terrain was not hard enough to do big damage.
The flat start makes it hard for a quality breakaway to get up the road. The tailwind will them, but I doubt Jumbo-Visma wants a big group on the road. On the other hand, it is not a big GC day. On paper, it suits the breakaway.
Jumbo-Visma need to defend again tomorrow. Roglic looked human today, a rare sight. Jonas looked good on the other hand. Once again, I think it will be hard for them to win – unless we see a reduced bunch sprint, then Roglic has a good chance.
INEOS with a good effort today. Yates looked very good, the same for Martinez. Not sure if it was a good idea to drop Tulett, Tao and Rodriguez with an attack. It leaves them with some riders who don’t pose a big threat in the GC and as their two GC riders don’t pack the best sprint, it would be wise to use the others offensively to potentially take bonus seconds.
Quick-Step and their deadly duo. I think tomorrow suits Evenepoel better, but he is a marked man. The same goes for Alaphilippe – they are too much of a threat in the GC. If it comes down to a sprint, Alaphilippe will be the favorite.
Bora-Hansgrohe have Vlasov, Buchmann and Higuita. The Russian did very well today, short efforts are not a problem for him and it will be the same tomorrow. Buchmann is on a good path, but even in his prime, he would not be a big favorite for this stage. Higuita lost time today – due to a mechanical. He is out of the GC and will not be marked.
As for the breakaway goes, I think UAE have multiple options – especially Covi and Formolo. Mauri Vansevenant will like the route too, and the same goes for Kämna. If the first climb would have been earlier, I would have pointed at the breakaway. But as Roglic said in his post-race interview: “It is war in Basque Country”.
Who will win?
As I can’t really decide on a breakaway or a GC sprint, I will go for Higuita. I must trust Bora’s post-race interview that he had a mechanical and sparred himself for the rest of the day. He can win in both scenarios.