In the words of Frank Schleck we were “one lousy second” off of stage victory with Valverde. Swings and roundabouts though, as the result meant he moved one second ahead of Contador into the GC lead!
But nothing should take away from a great ride from Victor Campenaerts, who was erm, the victor!
I discounted him yesterday in my preview having not seen much from him this year so far and alas I was proven very wrong. He’s continued on his good form on from the back-end of last year and with a Vuelta now in his legs he looks set to have a good year.
With the next couple of stages not being too difficult for the overall contenders we shouldn’t see any changes to the GC, but you just never know. Anyway, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
Easy -> Tough -> Easy.
There isn’t really much to say about this stage route as the main difficulties come in the middle of the stage.
After the exciting racing of the past few days, this one definitely isn’t going to be a classic.
There are a few kick ups in the closing kilometres but they won’t have any impact on the race!
The thing that will have an impact on the race (if it comes to a bunch sprint) is the technicality of the closing 1.5kms.
A sharp, but fairly open left hand hairpin starts it off for the riders at 1.5km to go.
They then progress 500m or so, passing under the flamme rouge before taking on a “kinky” roundabout. From there, it’s another few hundred metres of straight road before cutting through the greenery.
This area has a couple of turns too but they shouldn’t be too bad as they look fairly open and the final turn actually looks like it can be taken at pace.
Once through the final turn it will be a 300m sprint to the line.
How will the stage pan out?
The pressing question is if we will actually see a bunch sprint at the end of the day or not? Compared to Algarve and even Oman, the sprint field here is very weak and that’s fair enough considering the tough parcours we have at this race. Bryan Coquard is the main attraction and he is much better than the rest of the guys here. I mean, the likes of Kreder, Capiot, Maikin, and Hofland are all solid sprinters, but they aren’t the cream of the crop. Will their teams really spend all day on the front of the peloton when there is a chance they might even lose to the likes of Valverde?!
So with that being said, I think tomorrow is a breakaway day. There are plenty of riders far enough back on time not to worry the GC teams, we might even see a large group of 10 guys get away. As to who might be in it? Your guess is as good as mine, but like usual I’ll highlight a few riders I think might try to make the morning move. There are more obvious candidates, such as Wellens, but I’m going to try to pick some riders from the “lesser” teams, assuming that they’ll be more keen to go on the attack. First up is…
The Japanese rider doesn’t win that much but he is always a shoe-in for a breakaway at least once a race. On his day he can be a very tough rider to beat and he possesses a fairly fast kick from a reduced bunch. If a group of 5 or so riders came to the line together then he definitely would have a good chance. He probably would need the breakaway to be formed before the climbing start as he’s not as strong as he used to be in that discipline. With the team losing their GC rider today they’ll be keen to make amends in the coming stages.
The Belgian may not be well known but he is a fairly solid climber and all rounder. Riding for the Verandas Willems team, they’re bound to get someone up the road tomorrow and that could well be Gaetan.
After making the step up to Pro-Conti level last year, the Brit had a fairly solid year with his new team Wany Groubert picking up 2 seconds places. One of those was after being part of the breakaway at the Eneco Tour. In his race preview with @cyclingmole he seemed to air around the idea of trying to getting into a break this week. He’s not managed to make it in yet, is tomorrow that day?
A rider taking a step down from World Tour to Pro-Conti this year to chase personal ambitions and get more leadership opportunities he might be given the nod to try and get in the break here. With a second place already this year in Valenciana and after putting in a solid TT today, he seems to be in decent form. Roompot won’t want to put all their eggs in a Kreder’s sprint basket and Ligthart is a great option to have up the road.
Breakaway winner and I’ll go for Mark McNally to get his first pro victory. Why the hell not!
0.125pt WIN on the following with Bet365;
McNally @ 100/1
Arashiro @ 200/1
Brandle @ 300/1
Ludvigsson @ 300/1
Not backing Bille (as he’s not quoted) and Ligthart’s odds are poor. Brandle and Ludvigsson both offer good alternatives.
Thanks for reading. Do you think we’ll see a breakaway win or will it come back to a group sprint? Will we maybe even see some GC action?! Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.