After a day of traveling and a day of climbing, we are now back for a stage suited for the sprinters. We have around 2000 climbing meters, most of it at the first half of the stage.
This is quite a long effort and we will likely see some sprinters dropped and then have them fight to get back on again. It was used back in 2020, on stage 4. The teams with a sprinter made sure no strong breakaway went up the road and then controlled the climb. Since it ends with 99.1 km left, I doubt we will see any attacks.
The final in Messina.
It is more difficult than in stage 3, which means it is more vital to have support. The last corner is with 800 meters to go, but it is with a headwind which does mean if you are not situated well before that, you will eat more headwind. Timing will be key.
Near the end of the stage, near the north coast of Sicily, the wind is very calm tomorrow afternoon – with no danger of echelons. At the finish in Messina, the wind will come from the north – and that means a 3 m/s headwind sprint.
Mark Cavendish – Mørkøv might have left him on his own a few seconds too long, but the sprint on Sunday just proved how well he is going. He will start as the big favorite tomorrow, but if he opens up with 300 meters to go tomorrow, I am not sure he will hold all the way.
Caleb Ewan – the gold old Lotto-train. It needs fewer wagons. Ewan completely blocked with 1.6 km to go on stage 3 and in 40th position or so. It looks like they are too focused on their game plan with no adaptions to how the finale unfolds. A headwind sprint is great news for him, he is the fastest man here. Can they fix the issue? We will find out tomorrow.
Biniam Girmay – boxed in last time, we did not get to see how quick he really is. As expected on stage 3, he did not have a lot of support in the finale, but he found a good Alpecin-Fenix wheel to follow and sneaked up on Gaviria’s wheel. I think he is slower than both Ewan and Cavendish but I must be honest, I do not know for sure.
Gaviria – does not have the speed he used to. He had a perfect lead-out but could not overtake Cavendish. To be fair, it looked as if he had the same speed as Cavendish and they started to sprint almost simultaneously. If he has the same lead-out tomorrow, he has a decent shot.
Bauhaus – no help makes it difficult. He won a headwind sprint in Tirreno – Adriatico, tomorrow is not the worst day to sprint a bit further back. He looked very strong, but he will have to have a better position tomorrow to fight for the podium.
Demare – is very consistent and has a superb train. I doubt he will win tomorrow, he simply did not look fast enough on Sunday.
Consonni – another man boxed on stage 3. It is difficult to determine his chances when I have not seen him sprint fully.
Theuns – with a bit of luck and no elbow from Demare, perhaps he can sneak on to the podium.
Who will win?
If Lotto-Soudal have solved their problems, they will likely win. I think they did that on the rest-day. I will take a win for Caleb Ewan. A headwind sprint and redemption for the Pocket-Rocket. He is the fastest man here and we have a headwind sprint.