Another day in the mountains.
Flat first half, climbing and descending second half.
First up, Crans-Montana. We saw it last time in the Giro d’Italia this year, on the shortened stage. This is a different varrient.
The hardest climb of the finale has it’s top with 15 km left.
Then, the second part of that climb is this. Steep towards the top!
And the sprint in Leukerbad.
I reported no rain yesterday and look what we got. It should stay dry. Wind from the west, meaning a nice tailwind until the foot of the last three climbs. Here, it will be a crosswind. Not a lot of wind, so it likely won’t matter.
How will the stage unfold?
Today we saw Quick-Step take charge. Tomorrow, it will be Trek-Segafredo to keep the break in check. So, I think the break stands a bad chance, you need to be a good climber. Therefore, GC battle.
Evenepoel is not at his best level, as many expected. It does not mean he will not grow throughout the race. Despite Gall finishing 2nd, it is Team UAE I expect trying to set up a fierce pace for Ayuso. He looks like the rider to challenge Skjelmose overall. Will UAE then commit to the chase? I think they have to. With Evenepoel showing weakness, it is a b
Loads of riders lost time today – the time for Ayuso has come. Can they expect any help? I think a few teams will chime in with their domestiques. I will go for a GC battle. However, this could be a very good stage for someone who just had an off-day to try and attack further out. Still, remember – it is for the climbers.
Skjelmose – some win today. If you are feeling he just beat Evenepoel on a bad day, remember he beat Ayuso, Bilbao, Kelderman, Uran and Bardet too. Some win from him. Tomorrow is a tough stage to defend, he will be isolated very quickly which should be forcing him on the attack. That is a lot of moves to cover. The easiest thing is to attack when isolated and TT to the line.
Evenepoel – a bad day today does not mean a bad day tomorrow. It does not mean a good either. I think he will get better and better throughout the race. Tomorrow, he knows he is not the rider who has to force the selection – that is not usual how it goes. Does that mean he will sit back? No – he is an attacking rider, nothing will change that.
Ayuso – he looked to get better and better despite looking more and more cooked. The team did not do a good job today, some of them crashed on stage 2. Tomorrow, they need to do better – otherwise, it because a mano e mano against Skjelmose. I still think Ayuso wins that matchup plenty of times.
Bilbao – was one of the riders looking good on the climb, spending a lot of energy. A good sign for tomorrow.
Uran – mostly sitting in the wheel. He knows how to sniff out an attack but I doubt he has the legs just now.
Kelderman – underperforming but do not count him off in case of a GC sprint.
Uijtdebroeks – good effort by the Belgian today. He will be tough to crack tomorrow.
Bardet – if someone is to bounce back, it is Bardet. I still think he will play a role in this race.
Gall – A good effort today. Somehow, I feel like he burned a few more matches than the rest.
Mäder – late attack option. Bahrain may sit with two options
⭐⭐⭐ Evenepoel, Skjelmose
⭐⭐ Bilbao, Uran, Bardet
⭐ Gall, Mäder, Uijtdebroeks, Kelderman
Who will win?
I will go for Ayuso again.