The second of the Canadian races is also back. It does look to be a very good test ahead of the WC coming up later this month. The race has a lot of climbing meters but usually see a reduced bunch sprint despite 4795 climbing meters in 227 km. It is on paper just a tough day, but normally the sprinters manage to hold it together with help from their team. Nonetheless, you would have to be a good climber to survive and I think we saw some strong looking riders yesterday. The roads will we wide and in good condition.
Same route as always. Côte de Camilien-Houde is the main climb of the day. A long descend, before turning back towards the finish. Two hills for counter attacking and the famous sharp turn 600m from the line for the uphill sprint.
I’ve seen a lot of different ways to describe this. I think this is most fair one. There are 600m of 9.1%.
The uphill finale. A bit easier than yesterdays, but it may already start 500 meters out as the have just taken a sharp turn. Valgren tried to make a move here a few years ago.
Not very windy and not blistering hot.
How will the stage unfold?
Triede a different approach, just marking out more riders – not all of them are of the same importance. What I noticed, is that we only have a few big favorites wanting the classic sprint – and none of them are shy of racing offensive. It is a course much harder and I do not really see BEX, Intermarché or TJV being able to control it in Montreal. If they struggled in Quebec, it will not be easier tomorrow.
Cosnefroy looked superb Friday, I think there is a big chance he will attack. Bahrain has three options to play offensively, the same goes for Quick-Step who did a really Wolfpack-style race in Quebec – and EF, who played their cards well.
Pogacar could be the animator, but he is not 100%. We also saw a glimpse of Bardet and Gaudu, the two Frenchmen looked very punchy – they will throw in a dig too. Adam Yates always looked like someone who fancied an attack but never pulled through with it. Something tells me it will be a tough edition.
Wout van Aert – I think it is likely he will start as the bookies favorite once again, but it will not be easier. I think a lot more people will be keen on attacking, and he will have to follow or have Laporte follow the moves. Staying defensive will not pay off tomorrow, everyone will try and drop him.
Cosnefroy – what a win. He always seem to be in good shape late in the season, a real shame he is not going to Worlds this year. He is punchy, he is a good classics rider and this race reminds be a bit of Amstel Gold Race, a race he did very well in. He packs a good sprint – he will be difficult to deal with.
Gaudu – he really has become one of the best puncheurs in the world, and he packs a fine sprint for his size. I found the timing a bit odd yesterday, the attack was just a lap too early. I am not sure if he had hoped to stay away a lap against a rather large group. Nonetheless, I think he will go well.
Matthews – a bag of mixed results here. He did not look 100% yesterday, despite a good result. Perhaps he just played it smart. He has Nick Schultz, who is my wild card from the team. I just have a hunch it will be very difficult tomorrow, a lot of riders want to test the legs before Worlds. I hope he can hang on, but I’m not certain.
Girmay – always lost a few meters up Côte de Montagne yesterday, a smart way of doing it. The team proved strong, but I fear it will simply be to difficult for him. He is in fantastic form, but it is only his second race in his career above 220 km. I hope he can hang on, but I’m not certain.
Yates – he was the spearhead of INEOS yesterday but was never on the move. Either saving himself or simply not having the legs yesterday. Form is good, he took a stage win in Deutchland Tour and always go well in the autumn. The question is, if the race is hard enough for him to win.
Barguil – I like him for tomorrow. Barguil has become a great one-day racer since his days of hunting KOMs.
EF – they have plenty of riders to use, namely Bettiol, Powless and Guerreiro. Bettiol seems to be going well, and when he does that, he is one of the best riders in the peloton. He can climb, he can sprint and he has a good engine. Powless decided not to take turns in the group yesterday, either the legs are not there or he tried to outsmart them – possibly costing him a good result. He too is a great one-day racer. Guerreiro had a good run in Deutchland Tour and Burgos before. He really has had a good season. I expect one of them to have a fantastic result tomorrow.
Quick-Step – Schmid, Bagioli and Honoré looked the best to me yesterday. All quite similar, which means they will use the same tactic. Follow moves and see how far it gets them.
Pogacar – he doesn’t look 100%. He will likely get better from race to race, so I expect him to be better tomorrow.
Bahrain – Victorious – they have a trio too. Bilbao, Mohoric and Caruso. I do think it favors the first two. No team leader, just following moves tactics. On paper, Mohoric should do best on this type of course. I do also have a good feeling about Tratnik. He looks sharp.
⭐⭐⭐ Pogacar, Wout van Aert
⭐⭐ Cosnefroy, Gaudu, Bardet
⭐ Mohoric, Barguil, Bagioli, Yates
Who will win?
I think it will be a tough edition. I will take a win for EF, a win for Bettiol.