We are almost through the first week, and apparently, this is my preview number 100 hundred this season.
This is the Napoli stage. I guess we will see a city celebrating, as they just won the Seria A in a long time.
Looking at the profile, we have some early climbing. But firstly, we have 40 km of flat. Here, it is important for Jayco to control the breakaway, so they can set up Matthews.
Or climbing. This is the cat two climb and the next little kicker with it.
Chiunzi: 8.3 km at 6.3%
Passo Ravello: 2.4 km at 4.8%.
From the top of the last climb, we have 106.6 km left. That is a long way.
From the crest of the climbs, we have a 69 km of up or down. It will make it quite difficult to get back on. It also makes it a bit harder to catch the breakaway, if there is still one. I also see some winding descents.
Finishing in Naples. I am uncertain how well Veloviewer portrays it, the GPX is not always correct. The last 2 km are quite simple. Wide roads, no sharp corners.
Left turn with 2400m left onto cobbles. 300m of them.
A day where the wind will pick up. Starting at 2 m/s going up to 5 m/s. Blowing from the S/SW. That means crosswind and headwind for most of the day and a headwind sprint. It will rain too, not as much as today but it does make the descents wet and perhaps the cobbles in Naples.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, that is up to Jayco. They climbs are difficult enough to drop all the fast men, including Groves and Pedersen. The issue is, it is a long way home. If they pace, the will likely only have Zana and Scoton to pull afterwards, as Dunbar is the GC man. I think Alpecin and Trek will manage to get back on – they should then look to make sure Milan, Ackermann, Gaviria and the rest do not make it back.
What about the breakaway? I think it is more or less doomed due to Jayco will put pressure on the other teams on the climb. Still, the breakaway does stand a chance but they would need to be a quite big group over the top of the climbs. Jayco can not spend all their riders pacing – they still need a few later.
Conclusion: Difficult to say. It is too difficult for the sprinters that can not climb. I think it will be very likely we have the same riders fighting for the win tomorrow as we had on stage 3.
Matthews – it is a good looking stage for him. It is difficult enough to drop the pure sprinters but I seriously think they can keep Groves and Mads from fighting for the win too. If they have either Alpecin or Trek helping them, they stand a chance – but I doubt Jayco can drop them both and keep them distanced. He will fight for the podium.
Pedersen – simply just not his race as of now. Another good looking stage for him tomorrow, we know the team is fully behind him on a day like this (as they should be). With a decimated bunch, he stands a better chance at taking the win. He is must start as one of the favorites. He was boxed in today – the luck will turn around soon.
Groves – is climbing well as expected. He took the win today, getting himself a great boost of confidence after his two first sprints did not go according to plan. He should have Conci and Oldani to help him if he gets in trouble. Hopefully, from a Danish point of view, Alpecin and Trek will ally-up.
Albanese – another good chance for him to fight for the podium. A top-10 is very likely.
Stewart – no sprint today, FDJ riders got the order to play it safe. Smart. He is climbing well, the reason he was dropped on stage 3 was due to a puncture. It would be a great chance to get another top-10 result.
Milan – he is fast but he opens his sprint early. He won a long headwind sprint in Saudi Tour, he can produce some watts. Can he climb well enough? It needs to be better than on stage 3. He will not get much help from the team, who has GC dreams too.
Gaviria – chances destroyed today due to crashes around him. He did not go down. He is in the same boat as Milan, he is mighty fast, opens his sprint early (which is a bad trait in headwind) and his climbing legs are doubtful after stage 3.
Cort – hopefully he has gotten better. He was close at getting in a move on stage 4, he will sit at the back until the last 10 km tomorrow. With Healy and perhaps Bettiol in the closing kilometers tomorrow, he is not a man to write off.
Jungels – Breakaway hope #1. You need an engine tomorrow.
McNulty – Breakaway hope #2. Let’s see if DSM hate him as much as Quick-Step do.
⭐⭐⭐ Matthews, Groves
⭐⭐ Gaviria, Milan, Albanese
⭐ McNulty, Jungels, Stewart, Cort
Who will win?
I will stay stubborn regarding Pedersen. Shit weather, hard route and six days in now. A win for the Dane.