Itzulia Basque Country 2024 – Stage 6 Preview

The most important stage. The GC has barely moved since the ITT, if you don’t count the riders who had to abandon.


3000 climbing meters in just 138 km. That is tough.


You can’t really pinpoint where or who will try to attack. Azurki and Gorla are where the breakaway hope to form, while Krabelin and Izua is where the GC riders will attack.

Krabelin is a beast. One of my favorite climbs in this region. From the crest, we are halfway there.

The last climb where I see the climbers being able to distance eachother uphill is Izua. We have 27 km left from the line.


A headwind start. It is not promising for the breakaway. A tailwind on Krabelin and Izua. This will be a fiesta.

How will the stage unfold?

We have a very tight GC. It will change tomorrow. The planning board is set, how do you take the jersey from Skjelmose?

I think very few can. This stage is just way harder than everything else we’ve seen. LIDL-Trek do have the team to control this until Krabelin. This is where I’d imagine a few teams start to pop up, after LIDL-Trek has spent domestiques closing down dangerous riders in the breakaway.

One must remember there are a lot of descending tomorrow, it is very vital to winning. The moves can happen everywhere.

UAE-Team Emirates is the first team I’ll mention. It is a good stage for four of the riders, it really enhances their chances of winning. They have to play their numerical advantage. Everyone will look to them on Krabelin, it is where they need to create the advantage. They will not win the GC by going mano e mano at Skjelmose, only Ayuso is capable of that. Instead, they must be willing to use Soler and Del Toro early, in order to set up McNulty and Ayuso. They must isolate Skjelmose, or try to, on Krabelin.

That will make the numbers dwindle. That doesn’t mean the distanced riders have no chance at getting back on. From the crest of Krabelin to the foot of Izua, there are 36 kilometers. This is where they must get him to work. If not, he will likely be able to follow everyone on Izua.


Skjelmose – winning here would be his biggest result to date. If I’m trying to be as objective as possible, the stage is good for him. He is better on short and steeper climbs than the +40 minute ones. I think the team can help him to some extent, Tao hit the deck a few stages ago, and I’m uncertain how much he can contribute. I do think he will be isolated by UAE, the easiest defence is sometimes to attack.

Ayuso – how is he feeling? I can’t tell. Even if he is feeling unwell, he must dig deep and burn the matches for his teammates. If he is in top-shape and not hindered by the crash, he must be the favorite to win the stage.

Vauquelin – a top-10 tomorrow would be a big result.

McNulty – he has taken another step this season. If he didn’t get sick during UAE Tour, he likely would have won. Plus, a top-3 at Paris-Nice. I wonder when UAE will give him the chance to shine at a GT GC. He has what you want tomorrow, a good engine and he is a damn good descender.

Bilbao – he didn’t enjoy the weather in France a few weeks ago. Now, he has the chance for a good result. He will diesel it uphill and catch them on the descent. Plus, few beat him in a sprint.

Del Toro – such a quality rider already. He is willing to attack and risk everything. He is not a big fan when it comes to positioning, which makes me wonder where he will be, when they hit Krabelin and Izua. His performance in TA makes me believe that he is not far off the best here.

I. Izagirre – Mr. Basque Country. I’d imagine to see him somewhere in the top-10.

Buitrago – double-digits. He will hope to climb with the best and then hope someone is willing to work with him. He isn’t a big fan of taking turns on the flat. I think he will do great tomorrow.

Soler – It is a good looking stage for him. He is in the same category as Bilbao. Get dropped, catch them downhill. Then he has that diesel for the attacks, when you don’t expect them.

C. Rodriguez – today was a positive sign. A top-10.

Who will win?

I will take a stage win for Brandon McNulty. I think UAE can play their numbers correctly.

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