I’m hoping we got an exciting stage and Pantano won it!
More than likely though, exactly the opposite of what I thought would happen, happened.
Or maybe not…
A “flat” day with only one categorised climb. However, closer inspection of the stage profile indicates that the route is pretty undulating.
The stage is categorised by small rises and falls. After the previous days efforts it looks like it won’t be plain sailing for the sprinters, especially if some of them suffered and just made it home.
There’s nothing else to mention about the opening of the stage apart from they enter Switzerland just after the half way mark.
The riders are greeted by the only categorised climb of the day at 26km left, the Côte de Mühleberg. It’s only 1.2km at 4.8% so it shouldn’t cause many difficulties but we may see some riders out the back here. The road then rolls its way into the finish in Berne.
Like the rest of the stage, these final 5kms are what I would call “undulating”. Oh, and did I mention that some of the streets are cobbled? Well it’s pavé, but still!
Annoyingly, the streetview car hasn’t been down that section where the camera is facing. That’s the 250m section at 7%. The riders come up from that road and take the hairpin turn left onto the plateau (still cobbled) before the road kicks up again.
The section of road on the bridge is actually pavé as well, with the road only returning before the roundabout and the left hand turn up the hill. The hill itself is pretty steep and is 600m at 6.5% according to the stage profile. Looking at it on streetview those figures do seem right, it does seem pretty steep in sections (View it here).
Once over the hill, the riders are greeted by the Flamme Rouge and a straight, flat road to the finish line.
How will the stage pan out?
With this being the last chance for some kind of sprint before the riders reach the Champs-Élysées, this stage will 100% see the peloton make it into Bern together. Will we 100% see a sprint at the end? I’m not so sure!
I have to say, I really like the way the final 5kms are organised. It’s a real Heinz 57 finish, there’s a bit of everything!
Going off the profile I make that final stretch before the Flamme Rouge to be roughly 1.4km long. The road rises 60 metres in that time (504m -> 564m) which gives that section as a whole an average gradient of 4.29%. Almost identical to the Cat-4 climb earlier, but I think that is too tough for some of the sprinters when the race is going full gas. If not, it’s most definitely on their limits. The saving grace for them is the kilometre of flat where their lead-outs can swiftly be reorganised.
I would expect Sagan and Matthews to be at the head of the peloton no matter what. The same can be said for EBH if he’s not on Cav guarding duties. Coquard theoretically should be there too. As for the rest of the pure sprinters, it’ll be a tough ask. Greipel and Kristoff have the best chances going on their history.
This stage ending is also conducive to a late attack. Either a slightly long-range one at 2.5km to go, or on that final ramp with 1.5km left. If someone really puts in an effort here then they could be hard to catch!
A whole host of riders might fancy making a move here such as Alaphilippe, Costa or Gallopin.
But with it finishing in Bern, you have to consider the Swiss riders and the Swiss teams (IAM & BMC) as they’ll be out to impress on the biggest stage of all on home roads.
BMC have a great card to play in this finish with Greg Van Avermaet. As a cobbled classic specialist he should soar up the climb, plus he’s shown his great form so far this race. I remember hearing in an interview after he lost the Yellow that he would target this stage. He could be hard to beat. Or Swiss rider Schar could be let off on a long-range effort.
IAM have a few Swiss riders in their team; Frank, Elmiger and Hollenstein, but their best chance could be Holst Enger (if he’s not too tired in his first GT). Pantano would normally be good on this stage, but I’m going to discount him as I’m assuming he won today’s stage and will be tired from his efforts 😉
Local hero Cancellara will no doubt give it a go. He was poor in the TT, stating that his form wasn’t there. However, he only the other day tweeted how his legs were feeling good. A classic double bluff, or is he really not good? We’ll know on this day once he puts in an attack if he is 100%.
Special mention must go to Rast, Reichenbach and Morabito but I can’t see them doing anything here.
There is one Swiss rider who I’ve not mentioned so far. 10 MTSW points if you can guess who it is…
He had an incredible Spring campaign with 7th at Fleche and 2nd at LBL. The way he ate up the cobbled climb at the end of Liege was truly impressive. I fancy him to be given free rein by Orica on this finish, especially now that Gerrans is gone. He’ll be used as their satellite rider up the road in the final 5km to mark attacks, or make them himself to force other teams to chase. Meanwhile Matthews will sit near the front of the peloton ready for the sprint, probably protected by Impey. I can see a late attack sticking here, and Albasini has the raw power on the climbs and the sprint to finish it off, if he comes to the line with others. It will be another tactical masterclass from Orica and he’ll be the benefactor.
25/1 with Bet365, 0.5pt EW. (Other places might be more generous later)
Like my grovelling apology on yesterday’s preview, I’m sorry if there are some errors in this. I’ve just wrote three back-to-back previews (stages 14, 15 and now 16) so I might be getting a bit sloppy and it’s now 1:45am on Saturday morning. Nonetheless, I hope we do get the exciting end to the stage that this finish deserves! Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.