The second mountain stage of the race.
It is the Jebel Hafeet.
It is a very different climb from Jebel Jais we saw the other day. This one actually sees timegaps between the GC contenders. We are used to it by now, especially the last hundred meters with the short descent into the sharp left before the line.
Starts out with wind from the south but once again, it looks like the wind is changing direction. The speed is 4 m/s, changing into a breeze from the west throughout the stage. It will very warm.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, it will be a GC showdown at the end. I’m curious to see if any big GC names are going to use energy and sprint for the bonus seconds at the foot of Jebel Hafeet. On the profile it looks at the foot the climb, but it is still a few km before the roads starts to pick up.
On the climb, I expect UAE to take charge. He is normally world-class here. If I remember correctly, the favorites usually have a go with 7.5 km left, here the next two km are 8.7% – the toughest section of the climb.
Evenepoel – it is not that long of a climb meaning he should be fine. I think he is quite happy with the fact it is Plapp and Bilbao he must keep a watchful eye on. The sprint on Jebel Jais was a good sign that his performance in San Juan was just an off-day on the bike. Given how well he has started to sprint, we could see him fighting for the stage win.
Plapp – I do not think he can win the stage. He should be able to hold on to the podium which is still a very good result.
A. Yates – this is a climb that suits him a lot. In the past three editions he has been 2, 2 and 3. The last two editions, he has been able to push Pogacar – and follow Pogacar. I think he is the only rider here that in theory could do that, if Pogacar participated and they were riding for different teams still. Sitting down in GC, Evenepoel has to decide if he will follow when Yates attack.
Bilbao – third here last season. I expect a podium finish for him again this time around.
Kuss – if he is in good form, he will be a podium contender. Sitting over a minute down, you should think he would be allowed a bit of freedom with a late attack.
Gloag – let’s see what he can do on a proper climb against some of the best climbers. A top-10 would be a very good result for him.
Bouchard – he will make his way into the top-10.
Who will win?
Adam Yates. He knows this climb very well and has a good record here. He sits far down in GC which could mean a bit of freedom.