We’ve come to the toughest stage of this edition.
With 209 km in length, they have decided to makes this brutal. They’ve also added three ascends of Golfbakken just to spice it up.
The edition of the Golfbakken-circuit, the stage is even harder. This is a fantastic area for racing. Up, down, narrow roads and plenty of turns. You can more or less say the finale starts 70 km out and they leave the circuit 45.5 km from the line. It is the descend and the climb that makes it diffucult.
700m at 8.5% is brutal. It also comes right after a sharp bend, as you can see above. On a fairly narrow road.
Moving on to the circuit in Vejle. There is four ascends on the mythical Kiddesvej compared to six in 2022. It is easier to show in 2D but it is more or less all about Kiddesvej.
The last 700m at 7% does not tell the whole truth, as the first 300m (again after a sharp turn) are 13.5%. For the last 700m it is the two Jumbo-Visma riders Laporte and Wout van Aert that holds the record of 1:23 – where the 300m section is roughly 45 seconds.
Another day with almost no wind and a very low chance of rain.
How will the stage unfold?
It is all about which race Lidl-Trek wants. I think they should do as today, let UNO-X do the dirty work of controlling the breakaway. Then, it is about isolating Wærenskjold. Charmig will be his last domestique, it is all about making him being the only one as quick as possible. Is Golfbakken too early? I would argue it is. They also have to factor not doing it too early either.
I think the best thing is to let the route and the length do the damage. We had Evenepoel put everyone in the gutters in 2021, though the lap was shorter. I think they need to attack first time on Kiddesvej. See what splits come and then race from there. The smart thing for them would be to have Skujins, Pedersen and Skjelmose there. Don’t let Wærenskjold recover, 92 kg on Kiddesvej is a lot to carry.
The circuit is great for attacking everywhere as the roads are extremly narrow on Højre Skovvej until the reach Ribe Landevej. Keep attacking, let Wærenskjold close and keep testing him on Kiddesvej. Then we will see who can keep up with Lidl-Trek.
Wærenskjold – sits with a strong lead now. He is climbing better than I’ve ever seen before but it is no surprise. He has a stage win from Saudi Tour uphill and 4th in the Queen stage of Baloise Belgium Tour tells us, he is a versatile rider. Today’s attack on the final ascent was showmanship if you ask me, he just told them to knock it off and take the sprint. Tomorrow will be a huge test, one I think too difficult for him to pass.
Mads Pedersen – I will not call him a fool but I will call his attack today foolish. It cost him a chance for a top-3 in the end, attacking on a 5% climb carrying the peloton with him. New day tomorrow and we saw in Glasgow how well he manages these repeated short efforts. This is also why he won this stage in 2017 and was 5th in 2021, attacking far out in a small group. I think they should aim to set Skjelmose up, he looks more fresh.
SKA – taking third today and splitting the bunch pulling in the headwind! He has great legs and good results here in the past. He strikes me as a rider who would want to get the race going early, perhaps they can arrange that with Lidl-Trek. It is a bit too steep for him Kiddesvej but he will compete for the podium.
Skjelmose – he has been very patient. I do not think it was an all out attack on Skovbakkevej on stage 1, it looks more like he was trying to set a tough pace, knowing it would be a sprint. I think he has saved something for this stage and that was the reason why he wasn’t attacking today. It is all about this stage, the altitude meters fool you – this is tougher than 2100 climbing meters.
Casper Pedersen – aims for a top-10 placement overall which would require a top performance from the Dane tomorrow. He clearly has good legs, following moves on stage 1 and doing a perfect lead-out today. He will be in the mix tomorrow.
Kamp – loves the Vejle stage and has tried attacking the last two days. He would like to attack as early as possible, he is a brilliant criterium racer.
Klaris – one of the Danes to watch out for tomorrow. A top-10.
Bregnhøj – got himself a good chance of pulling a top result. He does well on short and steep climbs.
Valgren – had a crash today, give this man a break. He was sitting at the back, likely saving energy for the day to come. Let’s see how he recovers.
Cort – on his good days, he races for a top-5 tomorrow.
⭐⭐⭐ M. Pedersen, SKA
⭐⭐ Kamp, C. Pedersen, Wærenskjold
⭐ Cort, Valgren, Bregnhøj, Klaris
Who will win?
Skjelmose to take the stage and jersey after a brilliant solo on the penultimate lap.