We are soon halfway which for a preview writer is a relief but for a fan a shame. Tomorrow should be one for the sprinters.
1700 climbing meters, most of it in the first half. The wind does not look strong enough to cause any havoc.
Three roundabouts before a road narrowing with 2.1 km to go. You can pass on both sides.
The first one is equally quick, the second – you must take the left way, or you lose positions before the turn. The third, on the right side.
Then, the right turn 2100m out – with a narrow road for about 200m. The road falls a bit here. We have another turn with 1400m left, it looks quite difficult given the speed will be very high here. The road is once again narrow until they reach the final home stretch with 1200m left. 7m wide road, not that easy to get right.
Lovely road furniture 250m out, so much for safety. Speedbump too with 200m left.
Colder than today which the riders will surely enjoy. It should stay dry. The wind blows from the NW/W with 5-6 m/s. It would be wise to monitor once more.
How will the stage unfold.
It will be a sprint. So, how do you get it right? As the riders have a tailwind for the last 55 km, move up early. The roads are narrow tomorrow, so stay near the front at all times. Only a few can manage to move up in a big group like that.
Then, the roundabouts. It is vital you manage to take the roundabouts the correct way around. If you don’t you will lose positions in the city and get a shitty position for the right turn 2100m out. If you do it right, it is almost impossible to lose to much space until we have 1200m left on the home straight. As the first part of the city is downhill, the riders lead-out men should last longer.
By this point, I see the peloton strung out. GC teams have dropped back. Then, all about getting the quickest way to the line. Take the shortest (right way) around the road furniture and continue towards the left side, and let your sprint slip on the inside of the left barries, so everyone else has to sprint on the right side and thereby taking a bit more wind. Let’s see if anyone reads these or if I know nothing about sprints. It gets the sprinters to take a straight line over the speedbump too.
Honestly, I hope they have done something to this finale, it looks frightening. Long sprint train is a good thing here.
Phillipsen – the have not set a foot wrong yet. SKA looks a bit cooked, which could hinder there dominace. With Rickaert and MvdP, he still has the best lead-out here and he is the quickest by a landslide.
Groenewegen – I still think he can be the one to beat him. The team is just not strong enough to keep him at the front. Just make sure they are in a good position for the roundabouts, Mezgec can guide him without too many others losing position for them. His 4th place on stage 8 shows he still has good legs.
Ewan – He has had some good sprints and he has been surfing wheels well. De Buyst also looks better, he should benefit from his long sprint train. Move up early, Ewan.
Jakobsen – he will not win if he does not follow Mørkøv. The rest day should have done him some good.
Meeus – another top-10. I still think he has the speed for a podium. The short sprint train is a problem.
Girmay – Petit and Teunissen will carry him a long way but I see a messy sprint tomorrow which is not optimal for him.
Pedersen – Stuyven and Kirsch, not a long train. It will be a problem.
Welsford – Mighty quick but the sprint train is not good enough. Move him up, just use three men in total for the sprint. Everything else and they just mess it up.
Bauhaus – Another top-10. He knows how to position himself well.
Kristoff – I don’t know if it is him or Wærenskjold, both of them are equally fast if you ask me.
Dark Horse – Wout van Aert. Rumors are he is leaving.
⭐⭐⭐ Groenewegen, Ewan
⭐⭐ Pedersen, Jakobsen, Bauhaus
⭐ Girmay, Welsford, Kristoff, Meeus
Who will win?
He is still looking super fresh. A win for Phillipsen.