The big favorite crumbles and Stephen Williams steps up to take the jersey. I don’t think Simon lost due to Plapp not starting the stage, he just couldn’t do the difference.
Last year, they did five ascents of the Mount Lofty circuit. This edition, they’ve added another start and left three laps to be done.
They are off for a difficult start. It could mean a strong breakaway will form.
Here you have the circuit. The place you can make the difference is on the climb.
How do you categorize it? I would say it is 1.15km at 7.9%. Then it flattens out. The short climb after the descent in the middle is 300m at 8.5%.
A headwind start before the circuit. Tailwind on the climb, a headwind for the descents.
How will the stage unfold?
Willunga Hill was a simple matter. This is more difficult. It is an attritional fight tomorrow. Each time they cross the line, the groups gets thinner. In summary, what happened last year was attacks on the circuit but they never stood a chance. Then the big move came at the steep section 1800m out, when S. Yates got away with O’Connor and Vine (with Marc Hirschi trying to close the gap…).
They stayed away for a sprint of three with the group finishing just 10 seconds behind. That means two things to me. Firstly, an elite group of climbers can get away. Or we see a GC sprint. The only “sprinter” who almost stayed in contest for the win last year was Coquard. This is a tough drag to the line.
Who will win?
Williams – he is quick, he can climb and he is in good form. The team is also elite with Clarke, Gee, Schultz and Bennett all providing support. I think his chances of keeping the jersey is good but there are a lot of bases to cover. Beating Onley in a flat sprint is likely, but he will have to finish second (and not drop bonus seconds) to Toro and Narvaez.
Onley – what is his motive tomorrow? He must know Yates has to make the move. Then he will have to counter. He won today and he has a good kick on him. But he will have to sprint better than ever before, if he has to win Tour Down Under.
Narvaez – sits where he wants to. It is all about the last sprint. If he can take the seconds he needs (10 at the line) then Williams and Onley can’t be on the podium or he will lose by one second. Does that mean trying to get a few seconds in the intermediate sprints or does he wish to walk away with a stage win? I think the latter is the easiest and simplest goal to achieve.
Alaphilippe – he fooled me a bit. Not strong enough to win today, tomorrow is an easier day. The time in the red zone is shorter and the climbs and shorter. It makes him start as one of the men to beat.
S. Yates – he will attack and he will have to stop looking for support. He could make the difference last edition, I do not think he is as strong this year. He will start with confidence that he can repeat his win from last year here. The team needs it after the “we can contest for every stage” comment prior to this race.
Toro – did better than I thought today. I think tomorrow is better suited for him but it is a gut feeling as he is very new to my radar.
Who will win?
I will take a stage win for Narvaez, he has been impressive the past few days.