3/3 for Pogacar this season. If it comes down to a GC sprint tomorrow, it could very well be 4/4. As many were confident stage 2 would be for the break, I feel stage 3 is more suited for it as it is only the last 1.2 km that really can be fought out by the GC.
You could call it an easier version of stage 2. 1744 climbing meters.
Once again, in terms of the GC, it should come down to the finale muro. We had the same finale twice before, in 2018 and in 2019 both won by Wellens. After a left turn from the main road, you start climbing. If it is a GC day, having a strong team to make sure you start at the front is key.
The first few hundred meters are on tarmac but then more cobbles. Not as bad as today, but potholes and poor road surface. A switchback to get over the first steep section. Then they follow the path around the walls of Castillo de Alcalá de los Gazules. With 300 meters left – more cobbles, this time in between the ones from earlier on the climb and stage 2. There are two “lanes” – you want to have your own lane with no one in front of you. Then a turn towards the church and your are done.
The lanes stop close to the top, before the last bend with 100 meters left.
The riders move south towards the stage and with the wind blowing from the east, that could mean echelons. I have looked from 60 km out.
A short spot with 60 – 55 km. I don’t think it will happen here.
A longer spot from km 49 – 41: This looks absolutely perfect. They will be racing in open fields and there are wind turbines – you can wonder why. Wind forecast: 15-16 m/s gale. Now that is windy. I’m not even sure it is safe to ride in. Spot: Paterna de Rivera.
A longer spot 40 km – 36.5 km.
From km 60 – 36.5 there are more or less good opportunities for echelons. Before even.
Yr.no and aemet.es report strong winds here. Windy is down to 8 m/s for this area, which still could be enough. The main problem is, they will turn in to a massive headwind. Max windspeed 70 km/h or 19 m/s.
- Being a puncheur
- Who will control the day?
Pogacar – he is just better at the moment. UAE had Covi in the first break, wise choice – they will look to do the same tomorrow if a larger group goes. Wellens has won on this finale twice – why not give him a chance? On the other hand, echelons means a break stands a poor chance and you would want your riders to protect you. Wellens and Bax will need to have a good day on the bike, as I don’t expect the rest of the team to fare well in crosswinds.
Mas – almost on Pogacar’s level. Ivan Garcia will have a long day tomorrow and they will hope Nelson Oliviera is on a good day too. I think they will look to protect Mas, but Serrano could be a good shout for the breakway.
Landa – I think he will have problems tomorrow. The team has Mohoric, an excellent candidate for the stage win, and Pasqualon. But they need to protect two riders.
Buitrago – see above.
Rodríguez – INEOS are a team well-known for being part of creating echelons. Connor Swift and Puccio will most likely do a fantastic job, but they rest of the teams are more or less climbers. I think he can manage tomorrow without losing time.
Dylan Teuns – I think he used to much energy pulling out in the breakaway today. Nonetheless, he is a mix of everything you need to win tomorrows stage – both from a peloton and a breakaway.
The breakaway options from Lotto Dstny – Van Moer, Eenkhoorn, Kron.
The breakaway options from ISPT – Vanmarcke, Houle
The breakaway options from Alpecin-Deceuninck: Laurance, De Bondt, Taminiaux
Who will win?
Well, the wind will blow. It is not often a breakaway takes a stage win on a windy day. We will have splits. None of the four GC teams look particularly strong in this area. Alpecin-Deceuninck, Lotto Dstny and TotalEnergies does. With the headwind, it can come back together. I think the most likely option is some sort of GC outcome. The teams all want to be near the front, pushing the pace until the elastic snaps.
Therefore, the most sensible and boring pick would be Pogacar. But I will go for Wellens. A hattrick in Alcalá de los Gazules would be in place. He will lead Pogacar out and Pogacar drops the wheel.