*Apologies, the late run time of today’s stage and the fact I need to have a snooze before work this evening means that both previews will be a lot shorter than normal.*
It’s all so obvious now, Porte takes the stage!
Contador managed to get up for second and a very determined Dan Martin just edged out Henao for third on the day. That leaves the Colombian 30 seconds ahead of Martin, with Contador one second further back.
That changes the dynamic of how tomorrow will play out most likely, but first let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
The final stage of the year always seems to change between an open road stage around Nice, or a mountain TT with a finish up Col d’Eze. This year we have the former again.
A very short, but intense stage; with 32.1km out of the 115.5km going uphill!
The three cat-2s are not overly difficult so I can’t see the GC guys try anything here. Instead, we might see some action on the Côte de Peille. It’s certainly steep enough to try and get rid of some domestiques.
However, it may all come down to the Col d’Èze and the descent back to the finish line. Officially the climb is 7.7km at 5.2%, but if you include the bit of false flat at the end, almost up to the intermediate sprint point, then it’s 9.7km at 5%.
The climb is quite deceptive if you just look at the average gradient. The first 3km rarely dips below 8% but this is then followed by a relatively easy 2km section, before it kicks up again, then finally flattening out at the top.
Most of the pros will have trained/raced up here several times so will know exactly what the climb is like, and their own strengths or weaknesses on it.
Once over the summit, we descend almost all the way to the finish line.
I wouldn’t expect that kicker to be much of an issue as the riders will already be carrying a lot of pace into it. Although it will most definitely slow them down!
The run-in itself is technical and a rider can lose contact if they’re not the most confident of descenders.
It will certainly be an interesting end to the stage if a group arrives together.
How will the stage pan out?
Before the the excitement at the end of today’s stage, tomorrow looked great for a breakaway. However, with things close on GC, especially between Contador and Martin, there is a very good chance we get another explosive day in the saddle.
The climbs aren’t too difficult bet there is still a chance of riders losing time and a reshuffling of the GC order.
Yeah, as I said above, I don’t have enough time to go through everyone like I normally would instead I’ll just list one name.
I think Ion Izagirre will win the stage. The Spaniard has been up there all week and barring misfortune on stage 1 he would very much be in the GC hunt right now. Aside from Porte and our current GC podium, he was the first one home today, on a stage that isn’t suited to his strengths. Whereas, tomorrow’s climbs look more up his street, but it’s the descent to the finish that looks perfect for him. This stage just reminds me of the breakaway win he took in the Tour last year. Being almost two minutes down, he’ll be given a bit of leeway by the other contenders and he could well pull off a Yates-style attack.
1pt EW Izagirre @ 25/1 with Bet365 (would take 20s)
Thanks for reading as always, normal service should resume tomorrow! Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.