We are back with another tough stage. We have also seen this finale, last time in 2017 where Alaphilippe won from the breakaway.
A day with 3680 climbing meters. The first 50 km are difficult, meaning we will see a strong breakaway get up the road.
Moving southwest through the day.
Where the breakaway will form
We got 20 km of flat before the first categorized climbs come. We have a cross-tailwind here, expect attack after attack.
Xorret de Catí is the main climb of the day. It starts with 7 km left of the stage.
I think we can compare it to the Pico del Buitre finale. It is more difficult, as we have 2200m at 14%. The first over the top, if solo, is winning this stage.
Wind peeking at 20 km km/h. Breakaway should form on the tailwind section early as mentioned. Then, it is actually a harsh headwind up the Xorret de Catí of 4 m/s. That makes little difference on the steep section.
It will be quite a cold day too with rain showers.
How will the stage unfold?
Eight days in a row. Now, some are looking forward to the rest day. FDJ will look to defend the jersey, Lenny should succeed. I do not think Kuss will attack to take it, that is not the goal for their team. That means FDJ will do their part in making sure no GC threats go up the road. We saw how difficult that is the other day with Quick-Step. That means they will hope to succeed but it isn’t guaranteed.
I don’t think we will see many supporting them. The GC teams will increase the pace once they near the last climb, in order to be in a good position. Damage can be done here, but only around 30 seconds for the ones who look best as of now.
It will be a day for the breakaway if you haven’t figured that out already. I think FDJ will do their best to control the stage. I think a few teams; Bora, Bahrain and INEOS should look to be a part of this breakaway to get more GC options later on. To win, you must be good on double digits.
Poels – goes very well on steep slopes. The main issue is, he does not sit far back in the GC. He has a win on this climb in 2016, here he won after attacking in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. We saw him on
Côte des Amerands in the Tour – the Dutch rider absolutely loves a steep climb. If he manages to sneak in the breakaway, the chance for him taking the jersey and the win are big.
Carthy – he still sits roughly 3 minutes behind Martinez. 14th wasn’t the result I expected from him on stage 6, but he is rider who loves a bit of cold and a double-digit climb.
Rubio – he was 7th the other day and his form is looking good. He was 5th on Lagunas de Neila recently. He sits 3:22 behind Lenny, he will hope he goes unnoticed in the breakaway. He certainly knows his way around a steep climb.
Bardet – he is still far back in the GC which is good news for him. 3rd the other day was good. He is better on longer climbs, meaning he may decide to sit up tomorrow and aim for stage 9. With his level, he can go for both stages. That is a perk of being a GC rider, they recover well. However a crash in the finale today is not perfect from him.
Vlasov – if Soler, Kuss, Landa and Carthy sneaked away the other day, so can Vlasov. 3:36 behind the leader will not worry Martinez, I think so atleast. But it means it is difficult to control the stage. He is in top shape and performs well on short, steep climbs.
Buitrago – another rider around the four minute mark. Despite crashing early on this race, 11th was a good result. He will only grow better, we saw in Burgos the legs are fine. He won on Tre Cime de Lavaredo this year in the Giro, where the last four km are also horrible. It could be a good day for him tomorrow.
Vingegaard – it seems he just needs a few more race days. He is getting better.
Roglic – he looked better than Vingegaard, if we solely look at body language. Does he dare to attack again?
Ayuso – a true fighter, finishing just behind the Jumbo-Visma duo. He has to work on his pacing and forget about helping Almeida.
Evenepoel – limited the damage but it was a bad day for sure. He will hope to improve. Personally, he just looks a few kgs to big compared to the Giro d’Italia, but I guess he may had to take on a few kg for the Worlds TT. I think he will improve, on paper it suits him.
⭐⭐⭐ Rubio, Buitrago
⭐⭐ Vlasov, Carthy, Bardet
⭐ Evenepoel, Ayuso, Roglic, Vingegaard
Who will win?
I’m going for Poels.