A stage that can surprise a few.
A flat stage when you look at the first two thirds. We have two categorized climbs in the finale and an uphill drag to the line.
The last 73 km are up or down.
Côte de Masmont has a very short steep section. It is a long run-in for the climb but there is no tricky corner before it, meaning they will likely fly over the first half of it.
Côte de Condat-sur-Vienne. A more tricky run-in meaning we will likely see a bunch sprint for the bottom of it.
The last 5 km are not too easy. A few roundabouts until 3500m left, where they take a right bend where the road goes up. Here, you can really put the hammer down and pull the front group out. Then, a very sharp turn with 1000m left. Then an uphill drag of 750m at 4.3%, getting a bit easier the last 100m.
Another warm day with a tailwind. If the breakaway plays the cat and mouse smart, they may just fool the sprinters.
How will the stage unfold?
I think there are a few teams who want to control this. Lidl-Trek, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Intermarché. Therefore, they must ensure it is a fairly week breakaway goes up the road. It is the eight stage after a tough opening week, meaning the terrain will prove more difficult than it usually is.
It is then all about the Côte de Masmont and Côte de Condat-sur-Vienne. We have seen what Jumbo-Visma sometimes do, when we have these short inclines. These hills are not very steep, not compared to what we saw at Paris – Nice 2022 and Le Tour 2022.
A team or some teams want to make it difficult. They do not want to sprint against Cavendish, Jakobsen, Groenewegen and in the grey-zone, Ewan. It will be up to Lidl-Trek, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Intermarché to do so with Jumbo-Visma as the dark-horse as we have Puy de Dôme on stage 9.
We will see a reduced bunch sprint without the pure sprinters. We also saw today how important it is to keep the breakaway small, had Peters and Latour had two more riders with them, it would have been even closer.
Phillipsen – three attempts and three wins. It is a rare sight. Tomorrow, I’ve read where they end is of importance to Mathieu van der Poel. Given what I’ve seen in the sprints for Phillipsen, his major lead in the points classification and of what I know of his capabilities – he will not be easy to drop.
Wout van Aert – is this the reason why he sat at the back today, to hunt for tomorrow? I absolutely think so. The team will try and surprise a few teams – the teams that still do not get that most of what they should do, should be looking at what they will do. With Laporte at his side, Wout van Aert will prove tough to beat.
Pedersen – this is what we in Denmark would call and “Mads Pedersen sprint”. Tough day in the saddle and a rise to the line around 4%. They were better today and tomorrow they should look even better, as the peloton will not be as large, when they reach the line.
Girmay – angry today. Tomorrow is a better shot for Girmay, who loves a finish after a tough stage. He has to beat the three men above, which I doubt he can.
Ewan – on his good days, he will sprint for the win. He looks stellar at the moment, better than I’ve seen him all year. And the fact that De Buyst is back at it, he stands a good chance getting another good result tomorrow.
Bauhaus – too difficult? The German is a decent climber for his size.
Meeus – the same can be said for this Belgian. Still, the legs should sting when he opens up.
Coquard – this is what he is known for, getting top results in uphill sprints after a tough day.
Strong – I expect him to get a good result for the team. You could almost call him the “Kiwi-Coquard.”
Kristoff – they’ve not had their luck! Let’s see if Kristoff still has a bit of that shine from the past left in him.
Dark horse – Mathieu van der Poel.
⭐⭐⭐ Wout van Aert, Phillipsen
⭐⭐ Ewan, Girmay, Coquard
⭐ Kristoff, Strong, Meeus, Bauhaus
Who will win?
I will take a win for Mads Pedersen.