The first stage has 3252 climbing meters, but the most difficult climb is more than 100 km from the line. Who will control this stage?
More or less up and down the whole day. The climbs are not being scaled correctly. The last 62 km are up or down more or less. Nothing steep, but we could see a lot of attacks trying to get clear.
Last 62 km.
Up or down. With the hardest being the first climb, yet it is merely 4.3 km at 5.4%,
The run in from the top of last climb. A few switchbacks but fairly simple.
Quite cold, temperatures at 5 degrees C. It gives the riders a nice cross-tailwind for most of the stage, before the last 62 km mentioned that mostly will be in a cross-headwind. It suits the durable sprinters more than the attackers. It should rain in the afternoon too.
How will the stage unfold?
Who would like to hold it together? EOLA for Lonardi, Corratec for Tivani and Movistar for José Joaquín Rojas? It just seems unlikely. It seems impossible. A “bunch” sprint is favored due to the wind direction, but the weather will also make it more selective. It is only the smaller teams that will ride for a sprint – depends on you count Astana as smaller, they do have Velasco.
I think Jumbo-Visma will control the stage, likely with Movistar and Cofidis either helping or attacking. The two teams have the numbers. I think the most likely scenario is a GC sprint. It is not optimal for Jumbo-Visma at all, Vingegaard is not the quickest sprinter, therefore the bonus seconds goes to the rivals. They must make it as difficult as possible, my guess is at the climb with 62 km left. Get on with the job and make it as selective as possible.
I could see a scenario where Cofidis has the advantage in terms of numbers. We will have to wait and see if they ride a GC sprint for Herrada or use Izagirre’s love for rain to take the stage win.
Vingegaard – I think it will be difficult for him to win, but the bad weather should make his changes higher. He will finish in the front group.
Sosa – the climbs are not difficult enough and they are not finishing uphill.
Guerreiro – a very good rider in rainy conditions. He is very fast on the line too, he is Movistar’s best option tomorrow for a GC sprint down.
Herrada – Cofidis’ best shot for tomorrow in a reduced GC sprint. He should be able to scoop up some bonus seconds from a reduced group.
Ion Izagirre – Mr. Rain. Attacking option for Cofidis. He is well downhill and we could see a few riders not wanting to take too many risks this early in the season.
Rohan Dennis – if he can make it, he will likely sprint for Jumbo-Visma. Faster than you think in a flat sprint.
DLX – good on a rainy day. He will likely finish in the front group.
Velasco – is in fine form. The best option for Astana tomorrow in my book. He can sprint after a tough day.
Who will win?
We should see a group of 20-30 riders sprinting. I will take a stage win for Jesus Herrada.