With the punchy finish in Romont over, we head to the easiest stage if you ask me. Just over 2600 climbing meters but no very difficult climbs near the end.
It starts 25.5 km out. The descent is technical and fast. There will be GC teams who wish to stay at the front and push the pace to protect their leader. With 15 km, the last climb starts. It is 4.2 km at 3.8% – it should not be a big worry for the sprinters at all. Another descend and on to the flat for the last 8 km. The last turn is with 2.5 km left.
Calm winds of 3-4 m/s from the N/NE all day. The sun is out again and the temperatures are high. It means the last climb mentioned will be with a tailwind.
I assume some might hope for a breakaway win, but I think it will happen on stage 3. I think Dennis would be happy to let go of it for tactical reasons. It means it will be up to UAE, Quick-Step, INEOS and potentially Trek and BikeExchange to control the stage for their sprinters.
Hayter should have no problem surviving tomorrow, but he might be a bit sore after the crash. He looked fine on the outside, and he will start tomorrow too. A sprint train is not that important, but Amador, Sheffield and Plapp are three really strong riders. That means he should start sprinting from a good position.
Vernon should survive too, it depends on how hard some teams may force on the last climb. If he manages to be at the front there, he should be able to hang on. After a big win in Catalunya, the morale should be very high. With Cavagna, Honoré, Cerny and Schmid he should also have plenty of help even though they are not designated lead-out men.
Gaviria is back after a long break. After just three weeks of training, it is very hard to predict his current state of form. If he survives, he will be one of the fastest. I’m not certain how much help his team can get him, McNulty and Ayuso should be able to support him. That way, they also stay at the front and potentially avoid a foolish crash.
Aberasturi has not had the best 2022. I can’t find anything related to covid or crashes, which leaves a question mark. If he is in form, he will be challenging for the podium. Unfortunately, he is likely only going to get help from Skuijns.
Bevin did a fine job today. Sadly, the captains (Fuglsang and Woods) was not able to follow his wheel. There is no doubt about it, he is in very good shape. He is likely without much support in the sprint, I think Neilands can be the solution. He will be challenging for the win.
Smith rarely wins but given the level of the sprinters here, he has a good chance. I just think the others are faster. With Jansen to guide him, he has little support.
Who will win?
I will take a win for Ethan. Ethan Hayter. I have my doubts if Vernon will survive 2600 climbing meters.