Eneco Tour Stage 4 Preview: Aalter -> St-Pieters-Leeuw

Today’s Recap

Madness!

It looked for a while as if the break was easily going to be caught with around 10km left but then the peloton started messing around. The break managed to still have a gap of around 20 seconds at 2km to go, but then they started playing cat and mouse! Seems like no one wanted to actually win the stage. Well, one man did…

Sagan pulled off his best Dan McLay impression and weaved through the body of riders to take quite a remarkable win! If you haven’t seen the closing kilometres, I implore you to watch them!

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Bouhanni came home in 3rd, with Nizzolo finishing 6th again. A few hard luck stories for a lot of the sprinters, getting blocked etc., but it was their team’s fault for not pulling the break back early enough.

Moving on to tomorrow’s stage.

The Route

It will feature the most amount of elevation gain so far in this race, at around 1700m. Although several different GPX sites seem to disagree about that when I upload the file! 1700m is roughly in the middle, but it’s a very loose “around”.

Not exactly tough, but the majority of it does come in the second half of the stage.

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Profile made using ridewithgps.com

The climbs are short and snappy, but the profile makes the stage look a lot harder than it is. There are some gradients above 10% out on the stage, but they only feature for a couple hundred metres at a time. The longest climb is around 2km, so unless you’re on a bad day then you should not be dropped.

Of course, there are some cobbles out on the road but I don’t expect them to play too big a part in the outcome of the day. Think of tomorrow akin to Dwars door Vlaanderen.

How will the stage pan out?

A sprint looks the most likely of outcomes, but as we saw today, there is a lack of co-operation between the teams and a willingness to work. So there is a chance that the break makes it or that a late attack manages to stick. However, both of those are unlikely in my opinion and i say this is 90% a sprint stage, possibly the final one of the race, and that’s what I’ll be focussing on here!

The cobbles and climbing does make this harder than a normal sprint and suits some riders over others.

After winning today, Sagan, will be looking to double up tomorrow and take the lead of the competition before the TTT. The stage will be a walk in the park for him and the only thing that can stop him is if other teams get their sprint trains organised properly for once! If not, he’ll manage to get himself onto the correct wheel and come round everyone in the confusion.

Bouhanni won’t mind the climbing and the cobbles shouldn’t be too tough for him either. He has a very good sprint after a tough-ish day, but he may be slightly demoralised after the past two sprints. Although I can’t see that happening, he’ll be wanting to make amends!

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Kittel hasn’t managed a sprint in anger this race, being boxed in a couple of times. The relatively simple run in should suit him, but his team need to deliver a proper lead-out. They’ve not managed that yet!

As for his German compatriot, Greipel should love this stage. The cobbles and climbs will be no problem for him and the power, slightly uphill sprint (of around 1%) suits his characteristics perfectly. He might have been lacking in confidence in the past few stages, but if he actually follows his team-mates wheels here then he as a big chance.

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Stage one winner Groenewgen could also get involved here, he enjoys the racing around Belgium and is a deceptively strong climber. He proved that at the Tour of Britain and with his confidence being sky high then he could well go on and double up!

Once again, I’ll point towards Nizzolo. He was unlucky today in the sprint and had to check his speed a couple of times. This trickier stage is to his advantage as he’s transformed himself into one of the best climbing sprinters around. I said in the stage one preview that he will win a stage this week, he’s running out of opportunities!

On paper, this stage is made for Alexander Kristoff (2015 edition). Unfortunately, he’s not hit the heights of that great seasosn so far this year and is without a World Tour win. He’s been there or thereabouts in the sprints so far this race and Katusha are keen to do a lot of the work so they’re obviously confident in him. Can he pay them back tomorrow?

Demáre, Ewan, Degenkolb and Van Poppel will all be in the mix too. The young Sky rider looks to be in the best form out of them and could seriously challenge for the podium again.

Prediction

After backing a couple of favourites in the past two sprints which hasn’t turned out well. I’m reverting to type and backing an “outsider”.

Nizzolo to take the stage!*

Tour of Croatia - Highlights

*He’ll now probably finish 6th again.

Betting

0.5pt EW Nizzolo @ 25/1 with Bet365. I think he offers some EW value in what is a tight market. Keep an eye out, other bookies may be more favourable later on!

Thanks for reading as always! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will one of the favourites finally have their day?! Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

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