*Same PSA as my Dauphiné preview; the rest of the previews this week will be “short” as I am short of time and trying to write a two a day is a bit of a squeeze. Apologies!*
Quite hard to write a recap on a stage you’ve not actually watched but here goes…
As is typical in women’s racing, the peloton was together for ages, with no one able to break away after 100km or so of action. However, that all changed at 47.5km to go when Katarzyna Niewiadoma launched an audacious attack. Her gap continued to go and she had over 3 minutes with 30km left.
“Watching” the race on Twitter, I was expecting the gap to come down at that point but no, 20km turned into 10km and the gap still remained at roughly 3 minutes.
I think we had a classic case of peloton politics where everyone expected Boels to chase but the Dutch outfit refused and called their bluff for a long time.
Eventually they did start to chase on the front but it was too late, with the Polish champion holding on to a comfortable margin of 1’42 by the end of the stage.
Not a bad way to win your first World Tour race! I don’t want to put the #HaugheyCurse on her but…that in theory should be the GC over now. However, women’s racing is never over until and I’m sure we’ll see some attacking riding over the next few days.
Behind, her team-mate Vos sprinted to second to cap off a memorable day for the team, with Majerus somewhat rewarding Boels for their eventual efforts with third.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
An ever so slightly shorter stage than the opening day but one with a few more interestingly positioned climbs.
The majority of the first half of the stage is flat, bar a few uncategorised rises at 2% for a few kilometres. Most of the action kicks off in the second half of the stage, starting with the first intermediate sprint. I say this, because straight after the first sprint we have an uncategorised rise before the road gradually rises through the second sprint in Cheadle.
However, it is the Category one climb of Isptones that should see the race split apart. At 3.8km ling and averaging 4.6%, I expect some of the stronger teams to attack it at a really hard pace, making it seem tougher than it actually is.
We had a few riders dropped today on the climbs and I think we’ll see a lot more suffer a similar fate tomorrow.
The peloton could half in size, if not be reduced by even more before they head towards the Gun Hill climb. A shorter but slightly sharper ascent, according to the Strava segment the average gradient is closer to 6%.
There are some steep gradients of 10% and this is where the true climbers will come to the fore.
I think we might see a relatively select group crest the climb together.
The finish isn’t too bad, but there are a few technical turns in the closing kilometres.
Will we see a solo rider come to the line again or will a group contest the finish?
How will the stage pan out?
It all depends on how the stage pans out but I think we’ll see a relatively select bunch get away on the final climb. Will they work together to maintain their advantage? Or will those behind get back in? Will we even see a late attack from someone work as everyone looks at each other to chase.
A massive advantage that Niewiadoma has is that she has Vos in her team. More importantly, she has a Marianne Vos who seems to be back to her best. This means that the Dutchwoman should be able to follow the bunch on the short climbs and then be used to mark any attacks once over the top. Niewiadoma on paper should be one of the best on the climbs so it is very unlikely she’ll be dropped as well!
Therefore, anyone that gets away will more than likely have one of those two sitting on their wheel. Not ideal!
However, the rest of the WM3 team will have their work cut out especially when they’ll be shunted with most of the work all day. A lot of pressure will be on Kitchen and Koster, and I’m just not sure if they’ll be up for the task.
Therefore, I think we could get a solo winner who escapes from the bunch in the closing few kilometres after Vos and Niewiadoma are tired out from chasing and just sit up to conserve the Polish riders lead on GC rather than chase the stage.
I’ll throw a few names into the hat for this situation;
The French TT champion is in a rich vein of form at the moment, performing well in the Ardennes but more recently coming home with two top 6 places in French one-day races. She’s climbing very well, in fact, she’s holding onto the QOM jersey here just now! Using her TT ability and that she won’t be seen as an instant danger, she’ll hope to slip clear.
A similar rider to Cordon, the former 4-times Aussie TT champion has really taken a step forward this season with new team FDJ. With a strong Ardennes classics campaign, she has cemented herself as one of the best one-day racers/climbers in the women’s peloton. However, unlike other riders such as Moolman and Deignan etc, I think she still could benefit from some anonymity and steal a march on the peloton.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
The best young rider of the season, the Dane had a very good end to May, finishing in the top 5 of both th French races. Clearly in great form and buoyed by confidence, she won’t be afraid to take any risks to get away, knowing that Moolman will be behind following anything behind. With a solid sprint on her, she could win from a group of 3/4 riders that get away.
I’ll be bias here and go for one of my season-long fantasy riders, Shara Gillow, to take a great win after attacking from 5km out and coming to the line solo!
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.