The sprinters do finally get the chance of taking the stage win.
A flat stage with two categorized climbs in the second half of the race.
The riders are heading south throughout the day.
Here you have the two categorized climbs. The first is Alto de Belltall. Regular but steepest at the bottom, with 1.8 km at 5.6%.
Next up is the Coll de Lilla. The orange section is 5.5% km.
Roundabouts (only the right way round) with 2400m, 1600m and 1250m left. You’d want a good train to keep you at the front. With 450m left, we have the last left turn, and it is a sharp one. Then, the last 450m rise with 4.1%, flattening out towards the top.
Still, you see the left turn 500m out, we have 200m of 6.1%.
Here, I’m mainly interested in the wind in the last 75 km. With wind speeds up to 20 km/h, It should not be enough for echelons, despite open terrain. The tailwind simply makes it easier to set up a high pace, if you want to try and drop a sprinter that may be quicker than you on the line.
How will the stage unfold?
Without any top tier sprinters here, it will be interesting to see which sprinters feel confident going into this stage and asking their teams to work for them. That means monitoring the early breakaway too. Due to the wind, the riders out in front should play cat and mouse and save energy for the last 75 km, where the wind turns into their favor. All it requires is 4-5 riders, who are willing to work together to the line.
I think the fastest here will all be good enough climbers to be a part of the sprint. Then, it mostly comes down to the lead-out strength. The last 2500m are tricky and if you sit too far back, the roundabouts and corners makes it difficult to move up. Another issue is how easy you can lose a wheel in these finales. If you’d want to win, I’d say 8th is the worst spot you can sit in in the last corner with 500m left.
Groves – I think he has to start as the favorite here but not by much. He is very good at picking up big wins after a tough day in the saddle. Let’s be honest, it is not the A-team they are bringing to support him. I think he may find himself in a bad position tomorrow.
Molano – he can’t expect much help either. Lucky for him, he is very good at surfing wheels and opening his sprint at the right time. He will be tough to beat, despite being without support. There is also the chance of him having to ride for the team, to keep them safe.
M. van den Berg – I think he will be one of the better sprinters here. And who will help him? Sean Quinn does have some speed and is a decent finisher but there is this whole process of not being out of position far out.
Coquard – le Coq is usually on his own, so everything will be as usual tomorrow. He is very good at finding the right wheel, despite his small size. I think the uphill drag is very good for him too. He, he would really have liked 4% all the way to the line.
Menten – a bit of a joker. Given his year, I think he is a good shout for a top-10.
Dainese – he is very quick, and it seems his season has turned around after they did the “Søren Kragh to him”, which basically means treat him like shit because he will not renew a contract. Like so many others, the support for him looks paper thin.
Page – now the sprinter for the team, with Thijssen not starting. They bring a well-oiled train, with Johannsen and Boy van Poppel. I think this is a stage where we could see Page deliver a good result.
Garcia Cortina – good enough to contest for a top-10.
Evenepoel – now, I’ve written a few times already the sprint trains a not of the best quality. Does that mean Evenepoel will have a go? With C.Pedersen to guide him, he has the best lead-out man of all. Surely, it must be something they want to utilize.
Roglic – boxed in, or moved to late today. Call it what you want, he wasn’t where he was supposed too. It is an easy finish tomorrow, but I sense JV would like to be near the front. Then why not have 1 or 2 riders trying to set up Roglic.
⭐⭐⭐ Groves, M. van den Berg
⭐⭐ Page, Dainese, Molano
⭐ Garcia Cortina, Menten, Evenepoe, Roglic
Who will win?
I don’t have enough knowledge to say which teams will dominate, therefore I will go for a sprinter who can position himself well and loves a 4% sprint. A win for Coquard.