Gillow and Uttrup Ludwig did the blog some justice by getting in a mid-stage break but it was eventually clawed back by Sunweb who got a little bit of assistance from Boels.
We had a crash marred final 20km with several riders going down in various incidents, but the race ended in a relatively large bunch sprint.
Hosking took a great win, ahead of Barnes (Alice) and Van Dijk. The latter justified her teams hard-work all day, picking up some bonus seconds and moving into 2nd on GC.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
The toughest stage of the race going off of elevation gain, the riders are set to face a lot of uncategorised climbs throughout the day.
Here’s a link to the interactive version of the profile.
Most of the climbs come early but that doesn’t mean they won’t be attacked and we could see a significantly reduced group by the time the riders pass the second categorised climb of the day in Crich.
From there the route does get easier in the second half of the stage, allowing for some regrouping if the pace up ahead doesn’t stay constant. With some sore bodies after today’s stage, it will be hard to keep everything together.
There is a relatively long uncategorised drag of 3.1km at 3% that crests with just 6km to go and this looks like a perfect launchpad for some riders to put in one last dig!
The finish into Chesterfield is quite technical with a few kinks in the road in the closing few hundred metres.
Will we see another sprint?
How will the stage pan out?
With this being the last stage where the GC order can really change, I expect a fast and attacking day throughout. The other teams will not want to admit it, but they’ll relish the fact that Vos has now unfortunately had to leave the race due to a broken collarbone that she suffered in a crash today. It means that Niewiadoma will be very exposed because as I said in my stage 2 preview; I’m not sure how long Kitchen and Koster will be able to hold onto the peloton for.
I think we’ll see strong teams such as Sunweb and Boels set a fierce pace early in the stage, looking to isolate the GC leader before the half-way point.
From there, I expect attacks to come thick and fast off the front of the peloton from several teams: forcing Niewiadoma to do a lot of the chasing.
Eventually, something will stick and as long as several of the main teams are represented, it won’t come back.
Will Niewiadoma make the split? Well, it all depends on where it goes. She’s clearly in stellar form at the moment and if they try to attack her on a climb she should be able to follow it. Whereas, if it goes on the flat then it reduces her chances. She may well adopt the adage of attack = best form of defense.
Depending on who makes the move will decide how important the final uncategorised climb will be. If there are a few strong climbers then they may want to try to distance others, not trusting their sprints.
The gap that they have will also be a factor. We might see them work together extremely well right until the end of the day to ensure they overhaul Niewiadoma’s GC lead.
Riding exceptionally well at the moment, my pre-race GC pick finds herself sitting 4th on GC but on the same time as her sister who is in third. Climbing well, she’s been prominent in all of the stages so far, with 14th being her worst result. A strong all-rounder with a fast sprint she will hope any group comes together to the line as that seems to be her best chance of winning. Nonetheless, the local rider isn’t afraid to attack either!
The South African is having a quiet but strong Women’s Tour so far, currently occupying 6th place on GC. She was one of the best on the climbs of stage 2, but it was a case of “too many cooks” that day. One of the only riders who I think can drop everyone on the rises tomorrow, she’ll co-operate with any group but hope to attack them on the final rise. I think she has a good chance of taking the win.
After her win on stage 2, Boels were intending to ride for the Dutchwoman today but unfortunately she was involved in a crash before the finish. Nothing too serious but a bit shaken up, she didn’t want to contend the sprint. If she has recovered from that then she has a good chance tomorrow. With 4 riders in the top 30, Boels will no doubt race the stage aggressively. Any of their riders could win, but Pieters seems to be climbing well and obviously sprinting well too so she covers both options!
Ellen van Dijk.
Second on GC and looking the most likely to usurp Niewiadoma, the Sunweb rider should like the look of tomorrow’s route. The climbs aren’t too tough and should suit her powerful riding style. Futhermore, if she makes it into a small group, she has the strength required to escape and TT her way to the line. I’m sure everyone will be very wary of her!
Of course, we could see plenty of other riders contend tomorrow’s stage. It could well be as we say in Scotland a “belter”! Just a shame it won’t be live…
I’ll go for one of the form riders in the peloton at the moment, Ashleigh Moolman to take the win.
No fancy hats as prizes here though! 😔
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will Niewiadoma hold onto her lead? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth