A sprint stage.
1500 climbing meters, most of it in the first half. You see the lumps in the last 35 km? They are not going to spoil it for the sprinters.
Alright, let’s deep dive. I don’t like this finale in terms of safety. With 6200m left, we have a short 600m climb at 5%. Nothing major but it is the descend starting with 4600m left that worries me. With to roundabouts, you must be at the front and make sure you take the right way around, otherwise your finale is done.
The right turn with 4000m left is more of a bend. Narrow. Pulling the peloton out. 90 degree corner left with 3400m to go, still mainly downhill. There is time again to move up from 2700m – 1700m left. Expect a bunch sprint to the left bend, where we take on some narrow roads. A one-car-wide-lane (sorry for not knowing the right term) plus a bit of space on each side.
Speed bumps and road furniture on the right side of the road (curbs) just makes it incredibly hard to move up without causing danger. 800m left and we have a road that gets even narrower.
With the last corner 300m out, a good train is expected. Watch out for the speed bumps on the run in. It is a two-car-wide-road they finish on.
A long sprint train is required and having an excellent technique. I imagine the short 500m 6% climb will be used to get into position, just increases the pace. Hopefully, everyone gets home safely.
Strong winds from the south all day. It means a tailwind followed by a headwind. Expect them to be behind schedule. 7-8 m/s – a windy day. Usually enough for echelons. The first 50 km could see splits but with a 75 km tough headwind home, we will have to see if they make it.
Mads Pedersen – Is he faster than Bennett? The Mads Pedersen fans will say. With Kirsch and Gibbons as 3rd and 2nd, he has a fantastic train. One they will use throughout the season. Söderqvist (bmx-backgroud often provide technical cyclists), Vergaerde and El Tractor provide the muscle. It will be very difficult to beat them.
Sam Bennett – I like the team on paper. Guetherat has the speed but this is about positioning. Armirail, and Godon are good muscle but I think it is the first time the four of the work together.
Dekker – best option is to keep it short. I don’t think they should throw the entire team at this. I don’t see a skilled lead-out from their side, meaning his chances of a surprise win is limited to me.
R. Barbier – quick enough to challenge for the podium here. Philippe Wagner/Bazin is not a big team, we will see if they can succeed in challenging for the podium. It is the brother we have to look for. He has two stage wins this year already, meaning confidence will be high. The train doesn’t change, but they have already raced together in the Middle-East.
Hofstetter – ISPT is one of the strongest team here. Meaning they will likely be dominant both in potential echelons and in the finale. Van Asbroeck and Sheehan are the last two, I think. He has a chance at fighting for a top result tomorrow.
Cardis – a top-10.
Who will win?
Potential echelons. A nasty sprint.
I will take a win for Pedersen, he has the best train here.