The first stage can have many outcomes. Last year, we saw the puncheurs fool the sprinters. We’ve seen this finale a few times in the past.
It comes down to Côte de Stafelter and the rise to Luxembourg (Kirchberg).
Moving into the finale, we’ve seen different outcomes. In 2021, a GC sprint won by Almeida ahead of Mollema and Hirschi was the outcome. A year later, Madouas won after a long solo from Côte de Stafelter.
Then a rise starting with 3000m left, ending with 1500m left of the stage.
Here you have the last 1500m
A windy day. I don’t really see an option for echelons after looking. Mostly due to the short sections with crosswind plus the fierce reality of the headwind afterwards.
How will the stage unfold?
Loads of wind means a fast start. It also means going back will be slow. A waiting game. I’m all about the last 11 km (see below). As the wind comes from the south, the tougher of the climbs will be with a crosswind, yet a headwind over the top. That is a short section of 1200m, remember the ones pulling behind you are also in red. The descent is well covered by trees, and once unto the finale climb, the city of Luxembourg should cover some of the 7 m/s winds. So it doesn’t mean we will see a sprint, just because of the headwind.
Then, who wants what? UAE come here relatively stacked and the same goes for FDJ. I am fairly certain one of these two teams want to get on the move, FDJ succeeded with it in 2022 – they know the recipe. There are teams who would prefer a sprint, namely Movistar (Aranburu) and Israel-PT (Strong), as I am fairly uncertain what shape Cort arrives with.
That means we will see an attack. Can Movistar (Muhlberger, Jorgensen) and IPT (who also has a teams with puncheurs that will likely follow the attack) organize something. It really depends on how many riders manage to get away. You only need one up there to win, Madouas soloed last year.
As the startlist this year is much better, I think the big names will cancel eachother out. I think we will see the 2021 scenario, a GC sprint with strong sprinters playing a part too.
Madouas – will he attempt the attack again? He would like a scenario without Aranburu and Strong and that means riding the last two climbs hard.
Carapaz – preparing himself for the Italian classics here. After a long breakaway after crashing out of the Tour, recent form shows he is ready to fight for wins again. And he is very quick on the line.
Aranburu – he is going well just now. If we see a reduced bunch/GC sprint, he will be tough to beat.
Bagioli – form is looking good and he is quick. With a recent win in Slovakia, the morale will be high. The only issue is the team how many riders to please, we will have to see how they approach the stage.
Hirschi – I think he will attack. He will be confident after racing in Italy that he will beat a large potion of the other GC contenders in a sprint. He needs the bonus seconds.
Strong – let’s see if the IPT team can agree on some sort of tactic that involves their best shot. It is too easy for their puncheurs, who should look to cover moves without contributing tomorrow. Set it up for Strong, he was 2nd in Quebec which is a very big result.
Van Gils – I have very little knowledge regarding how well he is going just now. One thing I do know is he can climb and he is fast.
Q. Hermans – he has not had a season worth remembering, yet. With recent results going the right way, in Deutchland Tour and Canada, I think he can fight of a top-10 tomorrow.
Alaphilippe – on his better days, he fights for a stage like this. With other options in the team, I wonder if he has the star role.
Ulissi – on his better days, he fights for a stage like this. Is he allowed to go for it himself?
⭐⭐⭐ Aranburu, Strong
⭐⭐ Bagioli, Carapaz, Madouas
⭐ Q. Hermans, Van Gils, Alaphilippe, Ulissi
Who will win?
A solo win by Hirschi, UAE and FDJ must put pressure on the climbs.