The second of the one-day races in France.
Compared to Faun-Ardeche Classic, this is more suited towards the puncheurs.
It is an easier race overall, just 2400 climbing meters.
The finale usually starts on Col de la Grande Limite – it starts 42 km from the finish. This is where Vingegaard attacked last year and got away with Vansevenant, Ayuso and Lafay. However, I have included just a bit more this year due to the weather.
Moving on, “Les Roberts” or just the top of it as I have decided to pinpoint. 900m at 10% near the top of it with 27 km left of the race at the top.
Skipping Côte de Grane, next up is the Montée d’Allex. Another hill getting very steep towards the top of it. There are a lot of hills for the riders after the main climb of the day – Col de la Grande Limite. 13.5 km left from the crest of this one. It was here G. Martin and Cosnefroy attacked and that secured them 2nd and 3rd.
The finale. One last hill. There are 300 meters at 10.6% if you don’t fancy a sprint.
Very windy and very cold. Two things can happen.
- The headwind will ensure a sprint. Here, due to the wind, a lot of riders could potentially be in the mix.
- Going south, on with 55 km left near “La Roche Sur Grane”, the riders approch Col du Deves (4.1 km at 4.4%). After the descend, they turn west. Here – we could see echelons. It is a very short 4.5 stretch. It is not perfect, there are open spots and spots covered by trees and bushes. But 11 m/s is a lot. It is from Roynac -> Marsanne at the very south.
I think the first options is most likely going to happen.
How will the stage unfold?
I think it will be the same tomorrow more or less as in 2022. The climbers must make their move on Col de la Grande Limite – otherwise it is for the puncheurs.
It seems like a race where it is not bad to be out in front and being a cooperative rider, as riders behind will attack on the hills just to waste energy and have people close the moves down.
Unfortunately, it is a harsh headwind for the riders tomorrow. As the finale of 42 km is going in a northern direction, the wind will likely kill a lot of moves. So despite the chance of echelons, people would still need to work together up front to stay away.
Alaphilippe – we saw him beating Gaudu in the sprint today – almost with ease. It is easy to forget just how good he is after his season last year was hindered heavily by injuries. I think the team should give the man another boost of confidence tomorrow as set up the sprint for him.
Gaudu – with a bit more punchy finish, he stands a better chance. He could challenge for the podium,
Skjelmose – 3rd today, he keeps performing well. I think he is as quick as Quinn Simmons but the Dane is currently in much better shape. I think we will see him challenging for the race win.
Ulissi – the headwind will makes his life much easier. The finish is not that different from his recent stage win in Oman, he is a very fast rider. The question is, if we see echelons, I doubt he will be in the front group.
Higuita – not very impressive today. He often struggles when he has to position and the main reason is he sits at the back of the group every single time.
Kron – I think this suits him more than Faun-Ardeche. I can’t seem to find the reason for his surprisingly bad result today. I think he realized this race is more suited for him.
Costa – another solid top-10 placement from him.
Lafay – just like Costa, he is not half-bad on these finishes. Remember back to the uphill finish in Tirreno-Adriatico and Dauphine. 4th today was impressive, I think he will finish in the top-10 tomorrow.
Who will win?
It should come down to a sprint of some sort. I will go for Alaphilippe, his attack and sprint today was fantastic.