This one is difficult to predict. It is a fantastic stage by the organizers if they would just have added another climb in the second half of the stage.
They start off with a bang! Then, throughout the day there is plenty of climbing. 3600 climbing meters in 152.9 km. This one is not to be underestimated.
First up is the Passo Sommo. It starts 5 km after they are let go. It is as difficult as the last climb we had on stage 3.
Moving on to Lago Santa Colomba. Shorter, but the gradients are still tough. This climb and the Passo Sommo are done within the first 60 km.
Then there is a long rolling section. Up and down all the time, never settling into a rhythm. It is followed by a long flat which I have included too taking us to the foot of the last climb. So from km 77 – 50 km left it is up or down before a flat section from 50 – 26 km left.
This is the last climb of stage 4. It is irregular with a tough section at the middle of the climb.
And to the line. Easy descent and a flat sprint.
The wind is calm, it will rain all day and temperatures below 10 C. It might actually snow as they approach the finish.
How will the stage unfold?
This is a difficult one. There are many ways this can unfold. Let’s break up the scenarios. A very important bit is the fact that it is cold and the descents are wet.
- GC battle from start to finish.
So, this means everyone against the Empire. You have EF, Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain-Victorious as your rebels. Now the set has been made. They way this works is they all have multiple options they need to use offensively early on to try and isolate Tao G. Hart as much as possible on the first climb. I think today’s finale climb showed that INEOS is not as dominant as they look. Arensman and G are looking very far off their top level.
Now, by doing this they are also exposing themselves (EF, Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain-Victorious). They need to do it, all of them, collectively. Otherwise the teams missing out will help INEOS to defend their current GC standing. Bora-Hansgrohe has a strong team, the put everyone in red today with Fabbro and Konrad as workhorses. EF have a fairly strong team too and could look to use Carr and Kudus while Bahrain are more or less reliant on their two leaders.
An important thing is – INEOS may not have all their riders in top shape but since it is at the start, they should be relatively fresh to set a tempo. The other important thing is, they may end up just dragging INEOS over the top and isolating their own captains.
- INEOS keep the pace high over Passo Sommo and let a breakaway go on before or on Lago Santa Colomba that seals away.
Even though we all love morning climbs they rarely are used as organizers intend. The breakaway that will go will be with strong climbers as they need to survive the first climb in order to get in the breakaway. This way, it is easier for INEOS to monitor the moves.
Two things happen in the breakaway. Either you attack before Passo Pramadiccio (the last climb) or on it and someone will solo away. Somehow I just find it a bit unlikely too with the top-10 sitting within 1:20, INEOS showing weakness and Tao that he can be beaten.
I will go for a GC day. How intense it will be is hard to predict, but the must try and beat INEOS. Hopefully, EF, Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain-Victorious have a chat with eachother.
Tao G. Hart – under pressure today, he will be attacked from all sides tomorrow. I think he should still start as the favorite but he needs to see another level from G and Arensman if they are to control the stage. Perhaps the other teams do not see it as all-against-the-empire which means INEOS could receive help from other teams. If they bring him to the line in a flat GC sprint, few beat him.
Vlasov – glad to see him getting better. I assume he came here with a bit of fatigue from the altitude camp. It seems gone now. He should look to attack and get into moves with atleast an EF + Bahrain rider, that way he can get a long way. If not and we see a sprint, he is mighty quick.
Kämna – some move today. Can he do another brilliant effort? If his change from a breakaway rider to a GC rider is true, then he should be able to do a brilliant effort again. Had he been 4:00 behind the race leader, he would win this type of stage.
Buitrago – it was a bit too long for him today the effort as predicted. Tomorrow suits him better, and he is not shy of attacking and getting up the road. I think the finale climb will suit him and he packs a good engine for a rider his size. In a flat sprint, he is one of the quickest here.
Haig – he will be up there again tomorrow but he rarely wins.
Carthy – unfortunately, it ends flat. Meaning he would need to win solo from a GC favorite group getting up the road.
Cepeda – he loves to attack but we saw that he is better uphill than flat. It makes it very difficult for him to win.
Fortunato – see above, same type of rider.
Carr – breakaway option #1
A. Pedrero – breakaway option #2
⭐⭐⭐ Tao G. Hart, Vlasov
⭐⭐ Haig, Buitrago, Kämna
⭐ Pedrero, Fortunato, Cepeda, Carthy
Who will win?
As I am in the dark, I will take a breakaway/late attack win from Simon Carr. He impressed me on stage 2 and since he is from England, he will not mind a cold and rainy day.