We saw another sprint though with the puncheurs being in the mix. Tomorrow is the stage that suits the sprinters the most.
It is a long stage, 194 km.
With a rolling start that will make it a lovely area for another strong breakaway to get up the road. It is all about making sure they are not more than five.
The last climb is not very difficult, 8 km at 3% with the toughest 1250m at 4.7%. I think everyone can manage that. That means we get all the sprinters fighting for a win.
Last 5 km.
From 5km – 3km out, nice wide roads. But then, a short descent will take the speeds very high up very quick.
The roadbook does not give any info but we have sudden road furniture 3 km from the line until the roundabout 2 km from the line. Here, a left turn will stretch things out before a much easier right turn 1750m left. There will be space to move up until a sharp left with 1100m left.
The last corner is 800m from the line, a right turn. With road furniture 200m from the line, I must assume the barriers will be quite far into the lane. It is not much more than 1.5 lane sprint.
200m from the line. It’s gonna be narrow with the barriers.
The riders are moving north more or less the entire stage (the first hilly part is westwards!). Wind from the NE meaning the early hilly part is with a tailwind will the rest of the stage is cross-headwind. It will be 25 degrees C – a warm day!
How will the stage unfold?
Well, I think it is time to give Van Baarle a wee bit of rest. It is time for Quick-Step, Bora-Hansgrohe and Jayco-Alula to do the heavy work – which they will. I think they will make it clear at the start, that there is no fun to be had today – they want a sprint. It is the last change for them.
Bennett – it was a good sign seeing him in the wheel of Van Poppel. They have a very strong lead-out with Mullen, Pollitt and Van Poppel, one of the strongest here. Bennett has not picked up a win since Argentina but he was just a few mm shy in Tour de Hongrie, only beaten by Groenewegen. I think he wants the revenge tomorrow. With that lead-out they should be able to have Bennett in a good position before the road furniture and the corners inside the finale 2k.
Groenewegen – very quick but without Mezgec. He is lucky it is more of a boulevard sprint tomorrow. It will be up to Reinders to help him, who used to be a fairly good sprinter for Riwal. It is nowhere near the strength of Bora-Hansgrohe or Quick-Step. They have the firepower to move him up but they don’t have the designated lead-out train.
Vernon – seems like they were just riding for Loulou today! Ah.. He is not climbing as I expected and he is still to take a big win against some of the fastest sprinters in the world. Tomorrow is a great chance to do so, he has the help of Cavagna and Sénéchal – it is a short, yet very efficient and strong train. It is all about moving up and then try to get by after the last corner 800m out – otherwise, they go to early.
Laporte – He can still contest a boulevard sprint but I do not hope Vingegaard will be leadout again, simply to dangerous tomorrow. I think he will be on his own, the rest will save energy for the time trial and the mountains to come. He is still quick on the line but I would still say the three mentioned above are quicker.
Mihkels – Hugo Page left, which means they ride for the Estonian. Just 20 years old, he has already beaten some strong sprinters – his only win from beating Groves. Looking at this year, 4th in a bunch sprint in Tour of norway. A top-10 would be a big result for him.
Menten – Sweeny, Van Moer, De Gendt and Campenaerts. Will they try to set up a sprint for their fellow Belgian? They should. He is enjoying a fantastic season and should aim for a top-5.
Taminiaux – usually they have a strong sprinter at every race, tomorrow, that may be him. The train is not something to write home about but he is quick enough to challenge for a top-5.
Zingle – he will be quick enough to challenge for a strong result but I feel the podium is unrealistic. Somewhere within the top-10.
Wright – Another top 7/8.
Trentin – not sprinting today, I can’t find out the reason. He is quick but not quick enough to challenge for a boulevard sprint.
⭐⭐⭐ Groenewegen, Vernon
⭐⭐ Menten, Laporte, Taminiaux
⭐ Trentin, Wright, Zingle, Mihkels
Who will win?
A win for Sam Bennett.