The first chance for the sprinters.
There is some climbing to be done.
First up is to cat-2 climbs. Despite a small downhill section, it is not too easy with gradients constantly changing. It is still a long way out with the top 96.7 km from the line.
A bit closer to the finish is the last climb of the day. With 46.5 km left of the stage, there is plenty of time to organize the chase again.
Simple. One corner inside the last 5000m. It finishes with a loop around Lac de Jeux.
Barely any wind, no wind but still quite cold around 10 degrees C.
How will the stage unfold?
Who will chase? Quick-Step for Vernon, INEOS for Hayter/Viviani, Movistar for Gaviria and ISPT for Nizzolo. Then add EF potentially for Cort, Astana for Cavendish and DSM have brought Dainese. Plenty of the big teams want a sprint. The breakaway does not stand much of a chance.
Anyone care to put the hammer down in the last cat-2 climb? I highly doubt it. I’m calling a bunch sprint tomorrow.
Gaviria – he was looking very strong at the beginning of the season, both in Argentina and UAE. Since then, it has only been two podiums for him. It has been almost a month since he last competed, I think he has trained well for the Giro d’Italia where he will participate. He should start as the favorite but he does not have a lot of help in the closing kilometers.
Vernon – he has the best support for the simple finale. Cerny – Cavagna – Pedersen is a strong trio that really should be dominating tomorrow. It makes him a strong contender for the win and the podium.
Cort – we will see if he contests. Rumors are he is going well but you never know if he will compete in a bunch sprint or not. It depends on the size of the group. I think he will sit this one over.
Nizzolo – he is just not what he used to be. With Rick Zabel, he should start in a great position but I doubt he is quick enough to fight for the win anymore.
Hayter / Viviani – well, tell me if I have missed something but I have no idea how they will approach this. It all depends on how hard the stage is tomorrow, therefore my guess is for Viviani, who will have Hayter and Wurf to guide him. That is not half bad but the Italian, just like Nizzolo, is past his prime.
Cavendish – speaking of riders behind their prime, Mark Cavendish. I think he is still quick enough to fight for the podium but who is there to help him? I doubt he can win with the support they bring him.
Dainese – not the best season he is having but he will love the amount of climbing meters tomorrow. Usually, he performs well after a few tough days. He has Markl as support, not very convincing.
Bonifazio – took a stage win in Sicily. I assume Smith will guide him. I can’t see him getting much better than a top-10 in a boulevard sprint.
⭐⭐ Viviani, Gaviria
⭐ Dainese, Cavendish, Cort
Who will win?
More or less a coinflip for me if it will be Vernon or Gaviria. One has the upper hand on the speed, the other should start his sprint in a better position. I will take the win for Vernon.