After stage 2, the GC has changed dramatically. Bettiol with cramps and Italian handgestures and Matthews had problems with his chain right at the foot of Nettle Hill. That means Dennis now how the leader’s jersey, something I’m very keen to see. He is masterclass when he is in good shape.
The third stage is all about Corkscrew. We could see a lot of riders being keen on getting in the morning break as we have 10.3 km at 4%.
The finale can be seen below. It does start before the foot of Corkscrew Road. A very sharp left turn with 9.5 km is the point you need to be at the front. There will be a bunch sprint leading up to the corner. The road narrows and it will be almost impossible moving up after this point. Then Corkscrew Road and the descend with the last corner 500 meters from the line. It is downhill all the way! Being at the right spot at the corner with 500 meters to go is key – they will be going so fast in this sprint.
As mentioned, it is about Corkscrew. It is a lot similar to Nettle Hill, only it is closer to the line which means it will have a bigger impact on the outcome. Or you could say, it makes the outcome tend more towards the climbers whereas stage 2 was a tougher call to make.
It is tougher than Nettle Hill as you will see under the profile below. What happened in 2019, we had a move from G. Bennett, Porte, Woods and Poels. Proper climbers. They attacked after Cavagna already tried to bridge to the morning breakaway on the very early part of the climb.
The toughest part of the climb starts when they see the road sign of a snake, that means the hairpins are coming and the gradients get worse. This is roughly 7.2 km out. The attack of Poels follow shortly after. The quartet went clear but a mix of poor descenders did not hold of the riders behind.
Comparison of Nettle Hill and Corkscrew Road. The effort is roughly 2 minutes longer, G. Bennett set the best time in 2019 with the time 6:21.
There is not much to report about. Wind down to 3 m/s and still fairly cold, around 20 degrees C.
How will the stage unfold?
Yesterday on Nettle Hill, we saw INEOS controlling the pace. It looked like they were riding for Sheffield, as Plapp and E. Hayter both were very close to the front. They will have a good team to control the pace, but they will have to reevaluate who of their riders can follow an attack. Another team that looks very good is UAE Team Emirates. They should be able to have the resources to control the pace until the snake, where Vine will have to test Dennis.
Once we get to the steep part, I assume Vine or Yates will attack. They looked the strongest on stage 2, constantly being aware of the fact the two of them would not make it to the line together – they needed more firepower. Tomorrow is about getting over the top and then descending home. For me, that means the riders are more likely to empty the tank even more as they don’t have to pull for 20 km of flat afterwards. It will be better suited for the climbers.
I think a group will go clear over the top and fight for the stage.
Simon Yates – he looked like the strongest today. Closed down the gap to Vine and sat there, waiting, for team orders. Tomorrow, his chances are even better with the top closer to the line. I think he and Vine are the only two can get clear of the other favorites, the question is, will they work together and they can they stay away? I am not sure how well he descents.
Jay Vine – attacking, as usual. My money is on him to attack tomorrow, but he will not wait up this time and look for companions. I doubt he went full out today but he did a lot of work getting the group to work together. At the moment, it looks like he will put on another level this year.
Rohan Dennis – now in the leader’s jersey. His approach should be the same as today, set up a tempo and keep going. I have a feeling he will attack over the top if he is in a position too. His team is not the strongest and he should not rely on any help. It will be tough defending the jersey.
Jai Hindley – followed the move of Dennis. Surely, he is not 100% right now, but he is still world class in his current form. I do not think he will win the stage tomorrow, his current form is not there, but do not forget he is quite quick on the line.
Mauro Schmid – I enjoy watching him get better and better. If you compare him to the four abovementioned he went over the top with today, he should be the one they may overlook. He tried that tactic today, hoping the others would shut down the moves inside the last km but it did not turn out too well. He is quick and tomorrow should be another good chance for a good result.
Luke Plapp – he did not look good today. I am unsure if he team orders had him working for Hayter and that is why he did not follow the best or he just couldn’t. Nonetheless, he is a fantastic rider and if he is allowed, he should be able to follow the best given his current form.
Ben O’Connor – did not look the best today, tomorrow is another chance. Sometimes they just need a bit of racing in the legs to get it going.
Matthews – unfortunate with a mechanical today on Nettle Hill. Tomorrow, he should be in the service of Yates. If it comes down to a sprint, he will sprint for the stage win and to make sure Yates’ rivals do not get any bonus seconds.
Pello Bilbao – if this race was a few weeks deeper into the season, he would be a favorite for sure. Bilbao will likely not go over the crest with the best, but he will attack the descend like a mad man. He is one of the best descenders in the peloton, without a doubt. He packs a good sprint too. It is a very good stage for him on paper.
Chris Hamilton – he usually puts up his performances in Australia. I expect him to be just a few bikelenghts behind the best tomorrow over Corkscrew Road.
Who will win?
I think a group of riders, likely consisting as the same riders today, going over the top with a gap. I think it is more likely to see an equal sized group or fewer compared to stage 2. I will take a win for Jay Vine. He has a strong team, he is in good shape and his sprint today on the flat looked very good.