Starting in Switzerland. After 35 km of flat, they have to climb Passo del Sempione. That is the only categorized climb of the day. From the top, it is downhill and flat to the line.
The climb is very difficult. 16.1 km at 7.1% is not something the teams with a sprinter “just controls”.
So this is the finale. A lot of small hills where you can attack. It is with changing directions too, making it difficult to catch riders out in front.
Last five km. Quite simple, last turn is with one km to go. The road rises ever so slightly – 700m at 3%.
Barely any wind. Rainy again, throughout the day. The riders must soon grow tired. Bloody cold at the top of Passo del Sempione. The riders have a chance to see the sun in the last third of the race.
How will the stage unfold?
Who wants to control the stage? Mads Pedersen has left with illness, the same goes for Groves. That is the two quickest leaving – or two of them. Then we have Jayco-Alula. It is the same story, they can pace the climb but they do not have the team to control it alone against a breakaway. We even saw all the sprinters teams struggle on stage 10 – with multiple teams riding.
Can they expect any help from Bahrain, UAE, Movistar, Astana or DSM? I think Movistar and Astana are the two best shouts – but all of them are doubt full. The opening climb is so difficult.
It then all depends on when the breakaway goes. On the flat with just a few riders, that is ideal for the sprinters. On the foot of the climb? Then it will be the breakaway. I think the way Jayco should approach the stage is getting Matthews and De Marchi in the morning break.
Then, add in – it has been a long second week already. These days are no longer ensured to be sprint stages. As mentioned, Alpecin and Trek will no longer be there to do the chasing.
Matthews – once again, look for the breakaway and hope it pays off. It will be difficult to win on his own, they really need to ride smart and have Matthews making attack in the finale 20 km.
Ackermann – climbing well and sprinting well. With the whole team working for Almeida now (not Gibbons), I doubt they will be at the front chasing.
Milan – the fastest man at the start now. The team is still intact, though Haig is not at 100% after the crash. Without Groves and Pedersen, he is the favorite to win the bunch sprints with Ackermann. Can UAE control the stage? I doubt it.
Gaviria – Movistar have looked keen to help controlling the stage. They have the team to do so. With stage 15 in mind, I think some of their riders would rather like to save energy for the coming days.
EF – it suits Bettiol and Cort the most, especially with Healy burning a few matches for Carthy today. The both have the power to get in the breakaway on the flat and they both climb well just now. Beating the two of them will be very difficult.
Skuijns – whenever he gets the chance, he seems to go very well. I expect him to challenge for another win. He played the fuga de la fuga very well the other day, tomorrow is another one of those days.
Denz – It is another good stage for him. With the climb being early on, he will hope to catch back on and then it is an easier run in to the line. He played the fuga de la fuga very well the other day, tomorrow is another one of those days.
Simon Clarke – he was racing well the other day with the finish in Naples. This stage has a similar start, telling me he can get in the morning breakaway and keep up with the best on the climb.
De Marchi – seems to be going just about right now to time an attack and take a solo win.
⭐⭐⭐ Denz, Skuijns
⭐⭐ Milan, Clarke, Bettiol
⭐ Ackermann, Gaviria, Matthews, De Marchi