It seems spending all this time creating previews seems a bit of a waste when heavy rain makes the roads slippery. We carry on and applaud the GC favorites for riding passively today, showing unity and not making it more dangerous than it already is.
We are going to Andorra.
That means riding mostly north throughout the day.
The early part of the stage has a bit of climbing in it. 7 km at 4% followed by 3.6 km at 5%. You still benefit a great deal by following moves and it will be difficult to make a difference being a climber.
Moving on to Coll d’Orindo. We have bonus seconds at the top (6, 4 and 2). It is not a very difficult climb and it gets more difficult towards the top before the dip. The pace will be fairly high, as many want a good position before the descent.
The descent is technical, and if the roads are wet, the leaves on the road will be too.
Then, Arinsal. It is the first time we see it in a bike race at this caliber. This is lacking the last 100m, where they take the last U turn, so it is missing the last 200m. It is important to be at the front near that turn.
A day with a strong headwind until they turn left and start climbing. It will be cold up in the mountains in the northern part of Spain and it should not rain. Bad news is, it will rain throughout the day on the last two climbs, making the roads will be wet.
How will the stage unfold?
So, I think a few things will play a factor here. The wind, the wet descend, bonus seconds and of course the “giving the jersey away”. So, headwind all day. It will be bad day defending the jersey, especially as there is no chance for EF to keep it. I would try and get as many EF riders in the breakaway with Piccolo included. So, Mas and Bardet are the closest to him with Evenepoel not far off either. Do DSM and Movistar want to control the stage, with the possibility (read: high chance) that Evenepoel taking bonus seconds at the top of Coll d’Orindo and Arinsal? I think there is a chance either of the three will help chase.
Usually, the first mountain top finish is for the breakaway. I think the recent statistics are 75% of the time the last 12 Grand Tours, the breakaway has taken it. But we have two teams, who lost badly on the TTT, INEOS and Jumbo-Visma. They were expecting to be up time by now but they are not. I think Jumbo-Visma will control the stage too.
Conclusion: Despite recent statistics, I saw we got ourselves a day for the GC men. It will be tough getting a strong enough climber in the breakaway to win. The wet descend will force a tough pace on Coll d’Orindo. Plus, the change of weather from 25 degrees C at the start to 5 degrees C near the finish will impact the stage too.
Evenepoel – I think he will be one of the best tomorrow. The length of the climb is very good for him, I think the gradients are too. It will be good to see him up against this level of competition again, on a mountain stage. I think he will look to take the red jersey.
Vingegaard – not the type of stage that suits him. He needs them to be more difficult. As for stage 2, I think they should aim to set up Roglic.
Roglic – I think it is a good stage to get bonus seconds and have him advance in the GC. I will use the same arguments as for stage 2, he rarely mess up a sprint like this. He crashed today, reports tell he is okay.
Ayuso – he has not been proper tested this year, so his level here will tell a lot of what we can expect the rest of this race. I think he will be up there or thereabout tomorrow.
Almeida – not the best sort of climb for him but I do not think he will lose a lot of time.
Thomas – same for Thomas, the diesel will not have enough time to get warm.
Mas – Mas usually is very consistent, I do think he will put on a good showing.
Kämna – breakaway hope #1
Caicedo – breakaway hope #2
Bouchard – breakaway hope #3
⭐⭐⭐ Vingegaard, Evenepoel
⭐⭐ Kämna, Mas, Ayuso
⭐ Caicedo, Bouchard, Almeida, Thomas
Who will win?
I will take a stage win for Roglic once again.