Another stage and another win for Kittel!
Although it wasn’t all plain sailing for the German as he seemed to lose the wheel of his lead-out at around 1.4km to go. However, he was brought back up expertly by one of his team-mates (not sure who!), heading into the closing 500m. He still had a lot do, but proved his power with a very strong late surge, winning relatively comfortably in the end by around a bike-length. Groenewegen held on for 2nd with a fast, and very low Mareczko pipping Degenkolb to the line in third place.
Will Kittel make it a hat-trick tomorrow? Let’s have a look…
Another pan flat day, but we travel from coast to coast, west to east and to a new finishing town of Al Aqah.
I’ll touch on the desert and the coast in a moment, but the finish itself will be similar today with a sweeping final couple of kilometres. It appears that the race finishes just before a roundabout so it won’t be as messy as it could be, however, it will be fast as the last km is mainly a shallow descent before a slight rise up to the finish again.
Now onto the slightly more exciting bit…
The section across the desert is an open and exposed highway, the perfect playground for some teams to split the race up in the wind. Taking the average estimated speed from the race itinerary the riders will be in the area at roughly 13:00 local time.
The forecast for Al Malahia (near Jebel Fayah) at that time (source Windfinder) looks like the following.
A strong tail-wind is all but guaranteed. However, there is a good chance it may turn into a cross-tailwind and that could be dangerous for the peloton. It will mean extremely fast and nervous racing which in turn could increase the likelihood of splits as riders jockey for position or there are an unfortunate touch of wheels. The section just after Al Malahia and before they turn off that road to go through the hills, looks one particular area where echelons can be formed.
Along the coast, we are also set to get strong winds. Now, it could be argued that the hills nearby will weaken the winds but I would imagine that the forecasts for these areas consider that already!
Khor Fakkan is roughly half-way between Fujairah, where the start going up the coast, to the finish. They’re expected to reach the town at roughly 15:00 local time, with the forecast set to look like the following.
I will be very surprised if we don’t see some type of echelons along the coast tomorrow.
How will the race pan out?
As a viewing spectacle I most certainly hope we get some crosswind action and I am fairly confident it will happen. The riders have enjoyed a couple of relaxing days so far but are fully aware that things are about to get grippy…
In what way will this affect the race? I’m not so sure. As I alluded to in my GC preview, the sprinters tend to be the riders who cope well in tough conditions. So it will be tough to drop them. Not impossible, but tough! Quickstep and Kittel have looked very strong so is the obvious pick if the bunch does stick together.
Nonetheless I think it will be a messy stage tomorrow so can’t confidently pick a sprinter. Back to my usual self, I will name a few outsiders who might be there if things get wild.
The Italian is Sky’s GC man for this race but for him to contend the overall then they need to gain time on Kittel somewhere other than on the Hatta stage. Tomorrow could be that opportunity. They lack their proper classics talent, but Knees and Golas are two very strong riders in tough conditions so will be able to look after Moscon well and attempt to force some echelons. Moscon himself is an incredible talent and a great all-rounder. If there are no sprinters left in the front group he could win from a sprint or put in a stinging attack.
Former Sky rider, the Scot has spent the past few years in the shadows, happily putting in great work for his team-mates in the Classics. He’s a very strong rider, and his move to Aqua Blue sees him step out of those shadows and into more leadership roles. Blythe will be their number one go to guy here, but Fenn is a solid sprinter himself after a tough day. If he manages to infiltrate the front group then he has every chance in the dash to the line.
BMC have been very active this race so far, sending riders in the break to get bonus seconds. I think they know that it will be tough to beat Kittel on GC if things stick to the status quo and they make the race easy for him. Therefore, I think they’ll be one of the first teams to try to animate things tomorrow in the wind. Vliegen is another great young talent but his speciality seems to lie in one-day racing. He was 4th in the ridiculously windy Le Samyn last year but can also climb relatively well too – 9th at Amstel highlights that. If the conditions are right, he could spring a surprise and become a real GC wildcard going into Hatta.
I really wanted to include Jungels in this, he’s been incredibly strong on the front the past few days. However, considering he rolled home 42 seconds down today, he’ll definitely be on team work duty tomorrow. The long-shot GC dream is over for him 😢
Kittel will probably win again, but as I said picked yesterday I’ll go for one of my outsiders.
Oan yersel Andy!
Good luck if you’re backing Marcel! I’ll be taking small punts on my 3 outsiders and a few H2H;
0.1pt EW Fenn @ 300/1 with Betfair or PP (would take 200/1 lowest)
0.1pt EW Moscon @ 250/1 with Bet365 (would take 150/1)
0.1pt EW Vliegen @ 300/1 with Betfair/PP (would take 200/1)
Vliegen > Gerts @6/5 with Bet365. 1.2pts
Both have finished ahead of each other once so far, in and around the top 20. Would think Vliegen has more of a chance tomorrow.
Fenn > De Kort @ 8/11 with Bet365. 1.5pts
Both on lead-out duties, 1-1 so far. Like above, I think Fenn will suit the conditions better.
Vliegen and Fenn double at 9/5 with Bet365. 0.7pts
*UPDATE – Wanted another QuickStep rider before but the one I wanted was too short odds. However, it’s been pointed out that he’s available at 150/1 with Coral; 0.25pt EW Trentin.*
Thanks again for reading, bit longer today! How do you think tomorrow will play out? Any chance of crosswinds or will we get another sprint? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth