First sprint stage.
It is a long day going south. 210 km and 1500 climbing meters.
The last corner is 3750 meters from the line. It looks easy, but there is some road furniture with 250m out. Hopefully, the narrowing of the road in the sprint will start further out. It also means it may be difficult to find space in the sprint.
Quite a lot of wind at the start. As they are racing close to the Ligurian Sea / Tyrrhenian Sea, it can be windy. Racing begins at 10:45 and the winds will be harsh (9-11 m/s) in Northern Tuscany tomorrow. It is a very long way from home and the wind calms in the second part of the stage. For now, it looks more like a cross-headwind than a crosswind section. It would be wise to keep track of the wind, as Tuscany is one of the few areas in Italy where we can see the wind be difficult enough. The area you will be looking for is between Livorno (155 km left) – Castellina Marittima (114 km left). Afterwards, they turn into a headwind all the way home, making the chance for echelons quite small. Expect rain throughout the stage too.
How will the stage unfold?
I almost said it above, but we could see echelons. It is just a long way from home and with a 5 m/s headwind home after the section, it just seems unlikely. It also kills the chances of the morning breakaway too. I will go for a sprint.
Phillipsen – I assume MvdP will lead him out alongside Sinkeldam. He had a nasty crash in KBK which likely will have set him back. I do think the length, wind and rain makes his chances to succeed tomorrow higher. Still, I do think he would have enjoyed a tougher race.
Jakobsen – no Mørkøv, it is time for C. Pedersen to take his exam already. Ballerini and Vam Lerberghe is here too. I am not sure who goes where in the train yet, but Quick-Step should be one of the dominating teams near the finale.
Groenewegen – he has started the season well. The teamwork between him and Mezgec is on point. He will be challenging for the win.
Wout van Aert – doubt he will sprint, he took it very easy on the TT bike today. It will be all about getting some rhythm in the legs. I expect him to get better day by day. If he sprints, he will fight for the win.
Meeus – very quick but rarely starts the sprint in a good enough position to challenge for the win.
Gaviria – has been challenging for the win in San Juan and UAE Tour. He still has the speed to win.
Who will win?
I think it is a battle between the first three I mentioned. In my book, they are better sprinters – with the exception of WvA. I just don’t see him sprinting.
I will take a win for Jakobsen, I like the look of his lead-out train.