We had echelons, but quite early echelons. The headwind home killed them. Arnaud de Lie just showed how well he is, beating Cosnefroy and Mads P on a finish like that.
A bit more lumpy, but most of the sprinters should be able to make it. The first 45 km are quite lumpy, it will be interesting to see, if a strong set of rouleurs get in the break.
They do a lap 2.5 times. One major climb and the finish line is crossed a few times – they will know it well. As you can see below, the harder climb is still a good way from the finish.
This is the main climb. It is not very difficult.
They will cross the finish line three times in total. I would say it is important to be at the front with 2 km to go. Why? Blast it down the descent and be in prime position under the flamme rouge. The difficult part comes inside the last 500 meters. It will a single file after this. The corner with 250 meters to go is a proper switchback, and you get to take the inside line with 150 meters to go. Anyway not in top-5 here can not win.
The gradients will not be a problem for a sprinter.
The wind is calmer, down to 5-6 m/s. Still cold, around 13 degrees C but no rain. It means a headwind on the climb too.
Arnaud de Lie – I was not surprised he won today, but he won very easily. Lotto-Soudal had the better train in the end. As mentioned yesterday, De Buyst is not one to fool around with. It means he should start his sprint in a good position tomorrow and that means it will be hard to beat him.
Mads Pedersen – 2nd place today, went a bit too early on the gas. If he read my previews, he should have aimed for going first into the roundabout with 150 meters left – something De Lie did. They are a man down, but they still have one of the stronger teams for a sprint.
Axel Laurance – disappointed in him today. Dries de Bondt will be there to guide him, probably the best lead-out here. I expect him to challenge for the podium.
Luca Mozzato / Daniel Mclay – who will it be? Both can challenge for a podium spot, but it would be very surprising to see any of them win.
Who will win?
A battle between Pedersen and De Lie. De Lie is quicker and has a better lead-out. A double for him.