Long, hot day for the riders.
A breakaway escaped early on but was never given too much leeway and was brought back for the inevitable bunch sprint.
Sky were the team that was keen to hit the front early and they controlled the final few kilometres up until around 600m to go. Mezgec flew past them on the outside with Ewan in tow, dropping the Aussie off at roughly 175m left. He didn’t have it all his own way as Sagan challenged him early, and Van Poppel had a good run at him late, but it was not enough to stop the Orica man taking the stage.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
A short and sharp stage at only 130km in length, we should hopefully see some fast and aggressive racing.
You can view the whole profile on VeloViewer here.
The reason I’m not using the style of image that I have used over the past few stages is that due to the short nature of the stage, it almost seems to oversimplify things.
The day starts off with a climb for the riders, with the road almost rising from the gun.
Averaging 3% for 5.5km it should entice some of the strong riders in the peloton to try to get into the breakaway. It does average almost 7% for roughly 1.5kms which makes up the brunt of the elevation gain but the false flat afterwards will be of equal importance for the formation of the break.
From there, the stage is fairly easy with only a few one to two kilometre long climbs breaking up the flat roads. However, from 70kms in, the road starts to become more rolling.
First up is a 2.2km climb at 5%, followed not long after by a 2.7km climb at 5.5%. Straight off the descent that follows the riders will climb once again; although a lot more gradually with 3km at 2.8%.
The riders will then tackle the final climb of the day for the first time, although from a different direction than they will later. If you take into account some of the false flat afterwards then it’s 3.4km at 4.2% but that includes an opening 1.2km at 8.5%.
Second time round it is arguably even easier. The road does rise gently in the preceding 4kms but the main climbing takes place over 1.3km.
Not overly tough, it is still steep enough to be a launchpad for an attack. With only 11.6km to the finish will we see someone take a risk and go for it?
As for the finish itself, it is incredibly straightforward with wide roads and no real sharp turns.
How will the stage pan out?
Break or reduced bunch sprint, that is the question? Maybe with a slim chance of a late attack going.
With plenty of riders far down on GC, there is a good chance for some strong riders to make the break early in the day. The starting climb is an opportunity for them to get away but I have a feeling it might be after the climb and on the flat-lands where the elastic finally snaps.
It is a day for the breakaway specialists in the sense that the climbs aren’t too hard so that they suit a climber but instead seem more tailor-made to a powerful rider and classics specialist.
The key to how the stage plays out is Bora.
If they really fancy Sagan’s chances for the overall then tomorrow’s stage looks ideal for him and he would pretty much be a shoe-in for 10 bonus seconds. It will require them to control the stage all day, but at 130km they might just do that.
I wouldn’t expect other teams to help as;
- I don’t think many other sprinters would make the finish as if Bora do control the day, they’ll set a fast pace on the climbs to distance them.
- No GC team will help Sagan to gain time.
I’m really split on this but I think the break just edges it, purely because it relies on Bora to control all day on their own. 55/45.
Time to play that game again…
You know the score by now; proverbial hat and names.
I’ll throw a couple of candidates into the mix, nothing extensive as always!
I’m a big fan of the Dutchman as some of you may know if you read some of my cobbled classics previews. He’s a bit of an arsehole apparently, but a talented one nonetheless. Quick Step have Jungels and De Plus for their GC challenge but the team has also been very attacking throughout the Tour so far. One guy who has kept relatively quiet is Terpstra. This is his first race back after pulling out of Ster ZLM so his form is a bit unknown, however, he always goes well in this part of the season. With one eye on defending his Eneco (now BinckBank) Tour title next week, I get the feeling he might stretch his legs tomorrow. A man who’s strong on short hills, the climbs tomorrow should be of no difficulty. Give him a gap, and he’ll be tough to bring back!
The Italian veteran has a penchant for finding himself in good breakaways but is always beaten by a better man. However, he is also good in the hilly (not mountainous) Italian classics and tomorrow’s stage reminds me of that type of racing; a few climbs in a tactical position but a finish that could also end in a sprint. Back in April at the Tour of the Alps he took his first victory in 7 years, winning a reduced bunch sprint of 49 guys. It doesn’t exactly instil the most confidence, but what it does highlight is that he can sprint well after a tough day. If a breakaway group makes it to the line he has every chance of winning the gallop!
Terpstra to warm up nicely for his title defense next week with a win here.
Or Sagan wins a reduced bunch sprint to extend his GC lead.
0.5pt WIN on Terpstra @ 150/1
0.5pt WIN on Montaguti @ 150/1
Would take 66s lowest for them both, and that’s at a push.
Thanks as always for reading and apologies for this being out later than normal; thought I’d go out on the bike myself! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will the break make it, or will Sagan romp home in the sprint? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.