A long day in the saddle before two very short mountain top stages. All eyes are on the weekend now. Tomorrow’s stage has 2855 climbing meters, it should be too hard for the average sprinter. We will have to see if there is a big fight for the breakaway, who wants to be in it and who will work for a sprint.
Côte de Saint-Eulalie-en-Royans. The first categorized climb of the day.
The second categorized climb of the day. If the break is not established before this, it will be a strong one up the road.
The last big climb of the day, the Col de Cabre. The top is still far away from the finish line with 57 km left. This is enough to drop everyone else that is not WvA and Hayter, as sprinters go.
A few short hills but a lot of descending. This will be a quick finish, if it will be a sprint.
A tailwind for most of the stage and turning into a lighter crosswind on Col du Cabre to the finish line. A day with no rain or thunder on the menu.
How will the stage unfold?
Well – a very close one today, even with BEX riding all day for Groenewegen again. With the weekend in mind, one should think both JV and INEOS might want to have an easy day for the leaders. Both Vingegaard and Kwiatkowski were at the front today, that is energy you want to spend elsewhere. Wout van Aert has two stage wins – it is time to shift focus. Hayter has tried to beat WvA but he does not have the legs.
Again, I am not there DS. If I was, I would control to defend the jersey and save energy for Saturday and Sunday. Let’s see who wants what tomorrow.
The five big teams, INEOS want a sprint. JV will take one if they can, it is another very good chance of a stage win. QS wants to get up the road. Most teams do not care, and I highly doubt BikeExchange will set up another win for Groenewegen. That means they are just down to two teams chasing and both of them will (should) look to save some energy ahead of the GC battles to come.
There is no point in the finale that screams “here you make the winning move”. It will be about numerical advantages and having a nose for winning these stages.
Quick-Step – take your pick. Cavagna seems a little short of form. Honoré seems in fantastic shape but the “easy” finale is not optimal. Steimle had a very good TT – one must think he is going well too. Those are three very strong options, something that is key if you want to win from a breakaway.
Wout van Aert – he should win the bunch sprint, again, if it comes down to it.
Ethan Hayter – just missing a few percent at the moment. He is just not fast enough to win.
Politt – think back to his stage win at Le Tour. Perfect timing. Recently winning Rund om Köln is good news for him. He is strong and he is climbing well when it is not too steep. Do not forget he has a good sprint too.
Quinn – crashed a few days ago. Sad to see. If he has recovered, he makes a good contender for the breakaway. He can climb and is very fast.
Stuyven – Trek-Segafredo has been active to pull the break back once but still needs to join the break up the road. This is the last chance for him and Skuijns, it is a good duo.
Dujardin – has some good form lately. 3rd in Tour du Finistère, beating the likes of GvA, Capiot and Barguil in a sprint. I think he will do quite well tomorrow, someone who is flying under the radar.
Clarke – his form seems good, but the last 50k tomorrow is flat – not something that is perfect for him.
Who will win?
It must be a day for the Wolfpack. A win for my fellow Dane, Mikkel Honoré.