A hilly stage. Is it difficult enough for another GC day?
It is actually just two big circuits. We have 1500 meters of climbing but this time, we have no cobblestones.
A climb followed by a narrow descend and flat section. The last corner is 1000m out, here they move on to a bigger road.
Another day were the wind does not seem to play a big role. We may see some rain throughout the stage.
How will the stage unfold?
I like the design of the stage. We have a hard section before the golden KM, this is where we may see riders go for a hail-Mary attack. Honestly, I just do not see it working. We had (or almost had) the peloton catching the attackers on the Queen stage, therefore, I think we will see somewhat of a reduced sprint.
The reduced sprint will be more of a sprinters-classic sprint. It is difficult, and the pace will be high. The narrow roads automatically creates a very high pace, meaning the climbs will be ridden fast too as everyone would want to be near the front.
Phillipsen – this stage has everything he wants. A tough day and a finale where his excellent train can keep him near the front. He is the man to beat.
De Lie – the perfect type of stage for him. Very hard and then a flat finish. He will fight for the win.
Demare – a sprint after a tough day is perfect for him. He will hope for the win, more likely is the podium.
Merlier – I think the toughness of the stage is not ideal for him. He has a fantastic lead out man and a strong team. It is possible, but something tells me he will not win.
Kooij – lacking a top tier train here. Still, they just need to keep him at the front early on and hope he finds the wheel of Phillipsen or Merlier. I think we have a good chance seeing him getting on the podium tomorrow.
Meeus – he has not been there in any of the stage yet. Hopefully, that changes tomorrow. He can contest for the podium.
⭐⭐ De Lie, Kooij
⭐ Meeus, Demare, Merlier
Who will win?
I think it will be Jasper Phillipsen.