The third stage takes us to the mountains!
Easy start, then two mountains. Col des Mosses is quite easy uphill, and by the looks of it, also going downhill.
That means Villars-Sur-Ollon is the main climb of the day.
If you like Veloviewer, this one is for you. I think the most likely place we will see attack are late is the 2 km 9.1% near the top. Here, people should be more fatigued.
Another sunny day. Wind will blow from the N / NW / NE. From the north. That means a tailwind throughout the day but once they get near the two climbs, the wind eases. It should not play a part.
How will the stage unfold?
A breakaway will form and it will likely not consist of good enough climbers to win. Then, I expect Quick-Step and UAE to grind them back in. As I said, the first climb will not trim the bunch much but the pace will be high – everyone wants to be near the front for the descent.
Then it is all about getting in a good position on the last climb. Many teams have a rider they will hope can win tomorrow, therefore the pace will be high. The finale is similar to the one in 2017 stage 4, Larry Warbasse took the win from the breakaway! They had four minutes at the bottom of the climb. What I can see is that it is very fast paced the climb – and it is near the finale the best can distance each other.
Still, we saw a group of five sprinting and there is where the gaps came. I really doubt Villars-Sur-Ollon is difficult enough for big GC gaps. It reminds me of a tougher Jebel Hafeet.
Evenepoel – likely starts as the bookmakers favorite. When I saw him for the TT, it was quite clear – he was not as slim as he was for the Giro d’Italia. Still, he will be tough to beat. A good train with Cattaneo, Knox and Schmid should see him having domestiques for the first half of the climb. Then, it is up to him. I do not think he minds a tough pace.
Ayuso – they have the best team here. Bennett, Covi, Fisher-Black, Hirschi and Vine. I expect them to take control for their young Spaniard. He raced the mountain back in 2022 for the time trial, not having the best day against the clock. Still, I think he will challenge for the win.
Bilbao – first BV option. It is rarely he wins uphill, I think a top-10 is more likely.
Mäder – home soil. He seems to find a few days each season where he is world class and it is often in Switzerland. He was just four seconds slower than Vlasov up here last year, racing in Romandie. I think he will be the best rider from Bahrain tomorrow.
Higuita – well, Monsters Inc more likely this season. He was very good in Basque Country but that is also the main highlight of this season. I think it is a good stage for him, especially if he can hold on for a possible GC sprint.
Kelderman – 56th in the TT. That is not what I ordered from him. Hopefully we see him perform well tomorrow, I would like to see him in the top-10.
Bardet – another top-10 for the collection.
Skjelmose – does he have issues on longer climbs this season? It can also just be bad luck. I think he stands a good chance of getting a good result. The time trial was a very good sign.
Van Eetvelt – let’s see what this young man can do! A top-10 would be a massive result.
Gall – Good enough to challenge for a top-10.
⭐⭐⭐ Evenepoel, Higuita
⭐⭐ Skjelmose, Bardet, Mäder
⭐ Van Eetvelt, Gall, Kelderman, Bilbao
Who will win?
I will take a win for Ayuso. Evenepoel’s 2nd in the TT is a good result, but a mountain may prove too much for him already.