It is a fight between the breakaway and the peloton tomorrow.
With 2454 climbing meters, the stage is not pan flat. The interesting thing about the stage is the amount of climbing inside the last third of the race.
*This is the new route*. No more Alt de Fontpineda. From the top of the last climb, the riders have 27 km left.
The first up is lt de la Creu. With 5.5 km at 6%, it is difficult enough to put the sprinters into red. The riders have 37 km left from the crest.
Next up is a muro. Alt de Fontpineda has its top with just 14.2 km left of the stage. The first part is the toughest with the first 1.2 km at 11.5%. That sounds tough for the sprinters too.
Then we have the run home. Most of it is with a cross-headwind.
Wind will be blowing from the south, 5 m/s. That is mainly a crosswind for most of the stage. Overall, good weather.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, to me, it looks to be between the breakaway and the sprinters. The last climb is just far enough from home for the GC riders to use it and too close to home for the sprinters for them wanting to ride all day for a sprint.
I still think we should suspect INEOS and Cofidis ride for a sprint. It suits Coquard and Hayter to have a tough climb. On the other hand, both teams also have decent breakaway options for the stage.
Since I saw the stage profile, I have felt it suits the breakaway more than the teams with a sprinter. Alpecin-Fenix are also just down to five riders.
* With the change of route, the route suits the rouleurs more than the climbers. It also enhances the chance of a sprint significantly. I still think the key to the outcome for this stage lies in the approach for INEOS and Cofidis and I’m unsure their tactic for today will be going for a sprint.
Schelling – he has been going well in the sprints. It was odd to see him fall through last season. In 2021, this was the type of stages he would have competed to win. He stands a good chance both from the breakaway and in a reduced bunch sprint.
Tulett – the Brit has a good punch to him. The question is if the team rides for Hayter, unfortunately, I think that will be the case.
Herregodts – he had a very good start to the season in Portugal. It feels like the gas is slowly running out, but that is always an easy argument to use against a breakaway rider. He is a strong rider, I expect him to be up there tomorrow.
Jesus Herrada – his current form is good. Will Cofidis spent another day to ride for Coquard, or will the Spaniard have a free role? I hope he has a free role, it is a good looking stage for him. Few can beat him in a sprint from a reduced group.
Onley – the young Brit has proven to be very good at getting in the right breakaways. He packs a good punch, but he would need to win solo. I see him more as a climber than a rouleur, I am not sure how quick he is on the line.
Kron – usually I would just shut my eyes and point at him. I always rate Kron highly and he did do well in Ruta del Sol at the start of the season. The problem is, he rarely gets in the breakaway anymore.
Hayter – sprint option #1. He should be getting better and better.
Coquard – sprint option #2. With the climbs tomorrow, he should be closer to the speed of Groves.
Groves – sprint option #3. Team is down to five riders. Send Oldani in the breakaway instead.
Who will win?
I will take a stage win for Jesus Herrada. He has the experience, the climbing abilities and the sprint to win from the breakaway.
* Despite the chance in the route, I will go for the breakaway. It is still a very tough stage to control. My pick remains the Spaniard.