A flat run in before the first mountain top finish of the 2023 edition. I am very surprised to the favorites being very close in the GC. It is odd to see Gaudu sitting three seconds behind Pogacar after a long flat TTT.
Secondly, sorry for messing up with Laporte and Asgreen in yesterday’s previews.
Everything should more or less come down to when the climbing starts. Let’s look at the intermediate sprint with 15.4 km left of the stage.
*Will it be important?
After a short descent, the riders take on the last climb of the stage. As I mentioned in the GC preview, I fear this ends up like Malhao in Algarve as A GC sprint. It is not as regular which should make it more selective. Plus the fact the road is narrow, which I always feel help push the pace up, as it is more difficult to be at the front.
The wind finally seems to come out and play tomorrow. The wind will blow 7-9 m/s from the SW. As you can see below, that means a long day with crosswinds. In this part of France the echelon can happen almost anywhere. It will also rain in the later part of the stage.
We will see echelons.
How will the stage unfold?
So echelons is almost inevitable. Which teams will do well and which teams will not? Of course from a stage win an GC perspective.
JV – riding for Jonas Vingegaard. Helpers: Affini, Dennis, Foss, Kooij, Tratnik & Hooydonck.
They will be one of the strongest teams tomorrow.
Jayco – riding for S. Yates. Helpers: Durbridge, Matthews, O’Brien and Sobrero.
S. Yates is not known for being in the right spot when the splits happen. Hopefully, the team has the firepower to help him with that.
INEOS – riding for Martinez. Helpers: Narvaez, Swift x2 and Tarling.
Martinez knows how to ride in echelons and the team has plenty of power for the flat.
UAE – riding for Pogacar. Helpers: Oliviera, Bjerg, Trentin and Wellens.
Pogacar can handle it himself, having four strong helpers is a luxury.
FDJ – riding for Gaudu. Helpers: Küng, Geniets, Scotson (and Demare).
Gaudu had trouble in the crosswinds in 2022 at Paris – Nice. He is heavily reliant on his team to keep him boxed in the right spot. I can see him struggle.
EF – riding for Powless (or Cort). Helpers: Cort, Bissegger, Doull, Scully and Van den Berg.
Powless should be going well. The team is strong on the flat as we saw in the TTT.
Trek – riding for Skjelmose. Helpers: Pedersen, Hoole, Kirsch and Vergaerde.
Skjelmose is already well-known for being able to exploit others poor in the wind. The team is strong for the stage tomorrow.
I expect Latour, Vaquelin and Jorgensen to do well in the echelons too.
Pogacar – I expect him to be in the front group at all times. The goal for the day is to get the stage win and take as many bonus seconds as possible. Remember there is a sprint with 15.4 km from the line. I think this is a stage where he should start as the favorite.
Vingegaard – with the team in mind, he should not get into any problems whatsoever. The problem is the finale. I don’t think he can drop Pogacar on a short climb. That means dropping the rest and taking 6 bonus seconds minimum.
Gaudu – I can see him struggle a lot. If he isn’t dropped, he will use a lot of energy just trying to hold on for dear life. I don’t see him winning.
S. Yates – he is hit or miss on these stages. It is coinflip for him despite him having a strong team for echelons. If he surprises me in a positive way, he will be one to challenge for the podium.
Powless – I love to see him going so well. Tomorrow, he will challenge for the top-5.
Skjelmose – if you watched Etoile de Besseges this season, you know how he and Mads Pedersen are some of the best riders in crosswinds. I expect him to challenge for the top-5 too.
Martinez – poor TTT from the team today. He packs a good sprint after a finale like this. In 2022, he finished in the front group on both the echelon-stages. He will challenge for the podium.
Who will win?
Wind will blow. Plenty of teams want to try and put pressure on some of the GC riders with a bad record on stages such as this.
In the end, I think we will see a reduced GC sprint. Perhaps just a small group of five riders as the wind will limit the chances of a few.
Therefore, the winner has to be Pogacar. None can drop him and non can out-sprint him.