*Apologies – this preview will be short and sweet as I myself am short of time having to do two write-ups this evening. Normal service shall resume tomorrow!*
A charging Movistar won the stage by 2 seconds ahead of BMC, with Team Sky finishing in third.
However, the BMC riders were not happy with some of the Movistar riders pushing their team-mates and started a trial by social media. For some strange reason, only a few of the Movistar riders were punished by the commissaries, not the whole team. Either way, it’s a farcical end of the day to a fairly dull and uninspiring stage. Moving swiftly on to tomorrow!
A day back loaded with climbing. Credit for the route profile once again goes to @LasterketaBurua.
It’s the exact same finish to the third stage from last year.
The two cat-1 ascents before the finishing climb will certainly tire the legs but I can’t see them being overly demanded for the peloton. Unless of course a team were to come to the front and set a really tough tempo.
As you can see in the above video from last year, time gaps will be minimal at the end of the stage if we don’t get a team take it up from far out.
The finish isn’t that difficult and suits the punchy climbers such as Dan Martin and Valverde.
How will the day pan out?
We could well see a break make it all the way. There are already sufficient gaps on GC to some good enough climbers far down on the standings for them to get away and not be a threat.
Movistar are traditionally hapless at chasing down breakaways when you think they would be nailed on to, so I wouldn’t trust them 100% to close it down for stage favourite Valverde. They’ll be hoping the likes of Sky, Trek and BMC help, but after today’s farce, I’m fairly certain the American team won’t be lending a hand!
Possible breakees include Weening, De Gendt (who won the Queen Stage from a break here last year), Navarro and Geniez.
In the Peloton
If we do get the more likely option of a GC battle on the mountain then look towards those further down in the order to be given a bit of leeway when they attack.
There are plenty of high quality riders that are 2 mins down that won’t be given a second look if they make a move.
Last year’s winner Dan Martin is one of those. The Irishman seems to be in very good form just now, picking up a 3rd on GC in Paris Nice. This finish climb is tailor-made for him and I would be surprised to not see him on the podium at the end of the day.
Romain Bardet will be looking to make amends after his disqualification in Paris Nice. The Frenchman is quite a punchy climber with a decent uphill sprint so could challenge here. He certainly has no fear when attacking! Pierre Latour gives AG2R another option, he looked good in the Queen Stage at PN.
Ilnur Zakarin will want to repeat his dogged sprint that saw him beat Thomas in PN last year. The finish on that day reminds me of this one. The Russian is certainly a sight to behold when gunning for the line.
Rafal Majka could give it a nudge but he had a fairly poor Tirreno so his form might not be there yet.
I’m intrigued to see how Jakob Fuglsang goes. The Dane has had a quiet season so far but has been there or thereabouts, can he go better here?
Any of the Cannondale climbers could be there but they’ve had an awful start to the year and I would even avoid them with a ten-foot barge pole.
I wouldn’t trust Movistar to chase the break, but I do think Sky and Trek will eventually lend a hand and we should see a GC winner. I’ll go for someone further down the order to slip away, Romain Bardet to win.
Could and maybe should be a no bet day, but that’d be boring. Although after my past few weeks, back with caution. 😉😂
Bardet 1pt WIN @22/1 with Betfair/PP
plus a handful of breakers (0.125pt WIN each all Betfair)
Weening @ 250/1
De Gendt @ 500/1
Geniez @ 80/1
Navarro @ 150/1
Thanks for reading and apologies for the shorter preview. How do you think tomorrow will play out? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.