Another day starting in the Basque Country and the first one taking us to France. A stage with just over 3000 climbing meters, most of it in the first half.
Moving east throughout the day.
The early part of the stage is hilly. Tomorrow, it is the teams with a sprinter that will have to control the stage and not the GC teams. We will see the breakaway form here.
There are a few roundabouts going into the city, all of which you have to pass on the right. A nice double lane road, but it will still have the effect to stretch the peloton out.
A sharp bend with 2000m left – not as as sharp as it looks below. Then, going straight through a roundabout before La Flamme Rouge, until the road bends slightly to the left with 250m left.
Wind from the north, just 2 m/s. It will be a dry and cloudy day.
How will the stage unfold?
There will be a few teams looking to use the hilly first half to get in the breakaway and build up a gap and hope to make it to Bayonne. It is not an easy day for the sprinters, 3000 climbing meters is a lot. As I said, I do not expect UAE and Jumbo-Visma to take control tomorrow. So who will?
I think Lidl-Trek and Alpecin-Deceuninck are the two teams that should work for this stage. The hard stage evens out the chances for Mads Pedersen, while Phillipsen should be the fastest man on the line after a tough stage. Other teams I think will help with the chase is Uno-X for Kristoff, he is another one who would like the stage.
In reality, it should not be too difficult for Groenewegen and Jakobsen either, but the first 100 km is a tough challenge for them, they can help organize the chase afterwards. The question is then, how big is the breakaway, who is in it and how far up the road are they? The teams with sprinters need to ride slower on the slopes and not burn their domestiques too early.
I think there will be a lot of teams to ensure the breakaway will not be too strong or have to many members. There are too many teams who want a bunch sprint and the last 90 km is a long way to pull in a breakaway.
Wout van Aert – it is funny when people say he is not as good as he was last year. He looks extremely well, being in the mix of 10-15 over the top the last two days. He would have wanted a win today, I think Jonas should have taken a pull for him, it is a team sport – you give and you take. With Laporte tomorrow, we know the two of them are capable of getting a top result.
Phillipsen – dropped today, I was not expecting it to be that early. Tomorrow is a better day for him, a lot of climbing meters early on helps him. It is his team that needs to control the morning moves – expect to see Dillier at the front of the peloton tomorrow. His sprint train is phenomenal.
Pedersen – proved to be the better climber than Girmay and Phillipsen which tells me – he is ready despite racing some of the Giro d’Italia. It is another good day for him, he fits in the same box as Phillipsen. Stuyven and Kirsch is a short train but Simmons can help too. They have a good synergy the three of them.
Girmay – another sprinter where it proved to difficult. I like the train with Petit and Teunissen, they have the speed and experience. He won a bunch sprint in Suisse, I still do no think he is quick enough to win a bunch sprint here.
Jakobsen – all about how tough the early part of the stage is. I expect him to be in contention for the stage win but he may have sore legs after the opening 100 km. The train with Asgreen, Lampaert and Mørkøv is fantastic too.
Groenewegen – same goes for Dylan. All about how tough the first 100 km are raced. Mezgec is one of the best lead-out men in the world, and he is one of the few who has the speed to challenge Jakobsen and Phillipsen.
Ewan – you never can tell about the Pocket Rocket. The thing is, he is to small a rider for bunch sprints, he gets pushed around and loses wheels. He has De Buyst as his last lead-out man, who is fantastic at his job. Stick to his wheel Ewan, trust the team and results will come.
Meeus – it is time to show the world why he was selected and not Sam Bennett. Meeus is very fast and his issue has always seemed to be fighting for a position. Now, he has Van Poppel and Haller to guide him, it does not get much more better than that.
Kristoff – loves a sprint after a tough day in the saddle. Wærenskjold and Tiller to guide him, that is a lot of firepower on the flat.
Mohoric – breakaway rider #1. I don’t think Bauhaus can contest for a stage win.
Dark Horse – Cavendish.
⭐⭐⭐ Pedersen, Jakobsen
⭐⭐ Wout van Aert, Meeus, Groenewegen
⭐ Mohoric, Kristoff, Ewan, Girmay
Who will win?
Jasper Disaster should have the edge over Jakobsen as the stage has 3000 climbing meters. A win for the Belgian.