Another day in France. The stage has 2700 climbing meters, which should be too hard for most of the fast men. It could also be a day for the breakaway, we will have to see if Jumbo-Visma will want to keep the jersey for now – they are not known for handing out presents. It is a lot of steady gradients tomorrow.
These are the two cat-3 climbs at the “start” combined. Steady gradients, but the sprinters will hope the pace is manageable.
Next up is the bigger one close to the finish. At the top, there are 55 km left.
It does not really stop there. The riders get on a plateau for about 20 km, where it is constantly up or down until the descent. There is not a lot of fuzz regarding the descent, it is pretty simple. That means drafting is highly beneficial.
At the bottom of the descent, there is 14 km left to the line. Here there are a few shorter climbs until 9 km left. They are no bumps and the last one is 1.5 km at 6.5%. Expect someone to attack on these hills – it has a good chance of staying away.
After a few hills and descents, the last five km are quite straightforward. A long run-in before a corner under the flamme rouge, a crossing of the river Loire, and a few turns to the right, one with 750m left and the last with 500m left. Having a good lead-out will be highly recommended tomorrow.
Not a lot of wind tomorrow, but it will blow from the West. It gives the rider a headwind of 2-3 m/s. They should avoid any danger of rain as well. It will be quite warm.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, I do not think BikeExchange will be very keen on pulling on the front all day tomorrow. They got punished today, but they do not really have any other option. 2700 climbing meters is a lot for a “flat stage”, but there is not any major climbs in the last 55 km. As mentioned, it is not easy from there at all so I doubt we will see the guys dropped today competing tomorrow.
Jumbo-Visma, what do they want? To keep the jersey and likely set WvA up for another win. I think the same can be said for INEOS – to give Hayter the best chance of taking a stage win. That leaves two very strong teams to chase the morning break. I think INEOS will look at Jumbo-Visma and let them do the dirty work and then set a high pace on the long climb to drop the pure sprinters.
From there, I do think they will want to try something similar to the Paris-Nice stage. The last climb is hard enough to put a bit of pressure on GC riders too far back and then just hammer it to the line. On the other hand, I could also see a scenario of a late attack staying away.
Wout van Aert – will start as the big favorite again tomorrow. I am not sure how much they will work for him to bring it back for a sprint, but they do want to keep the jersey. If it comes down to a sprint, he will want to win it and with Laporte at his side, we all saw his monster pull to bring back Cavagna, he stands a good chance of another win.
Ethan Hayter – I think INEOS will be very active tomorrow to try and bring it back for a sprint. He almost had the win today, but WvA was just stronger. I think it is likely that we see them go head to head again tomorrow but Hayter will have to be faster.
Sean Quinn – a top 3 today was impressive. Tomorrow is another good day for him as most of the pure sprinters will be dropped.
B. Thomas – breakaway or late attack.
Cavagna – breakaway or late attack.
Honoré – breakaway or late attack.
Politt – breakaway or late attack.
Jorgensen – breakaway or late attack.
Who will win?
I think it will be another day for the sprinters. Another one for WvA.