*Insert cliché here about having a 250/1 rider finish second…*
The break ended up making it today but for a while it was finely in the balance with Sky doing a lot of the pacing. However, over the penultimate climb of the day no one else in the peloton seemed keen to help with the chase and Sky eased off the pace.
Ahead, Lutsenko and Haller attacked on the descent, gaining quite a bit of time as everyone behind looked around. We saw a splinter move go and start to chase but they never closed the gap to less than 20 seconds.
On the bottom slopes of the climb, Lutsenko dropped his break companion, forging on ahead. Behind Kudus did the same to Gougeard.
However, the Eritrean didn’t have enough in the tank to catch back to Lutsenko, with the Kazakh taking a great win!
Soler finished strongly from behind, closing the gap quite a lot, taking third on the day.
Similar to Lampaert’s win earlier in the week, I’m not too bothered with Lutsenko’s win. He’s a rider who I rate highly and have ranted and raved about for a couple of season’s now so it is good to see him take his first Grand Tour win. Although it is slightly more annoying when I couldn’t get on Kudus EW when placing my punt. Oh well. Onwards and upwards!
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
If there was ever a stage that was designed for a breakaway, this is it.
Five categorised climbs litter the day, but with the last cresting at just under 40km to go, it is going to be a very tactical stage.
The opening climb is officially 11km long at 3.4% but the road does rise ever so slightly before then. However, it is not too tough and it is most definitely a “power” climb.
With the crest coming at 48 into the day, I would be unusual for the break not to have formed yet. Although equally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them still slogging it out as they tackle the following Cat-3 almost instantly.
Puerto de Eslida is shorter but steeper than the previous climb, averaging 5.1% for its 5.3km.
If the break does go here, then there is a chance that the climbers will make the move. Not ideal given the finish, so they’ll have to be inventive later on.
The following two Cat-3 climbs won’t really play any major part in the outcome of the day and they’ll just be used to build the breakaway’s advantage, along with the long valley roads in between them.
The final climb of the day the Puerto del Garbi averages roughly 5.5% for just over 9km but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
There are two very steep kilometres in the climb that both average over 11% and this is where the lighter climbers up ahead will hope to break the race up.
If a group of 4-5 riders gets ahead and works well at this point then they might not be seen for the rest of the stage. It will take someone brave if they want to go solo from here!
The remaining 40km or so are mostly downhill or on flat roads with a fairly simple run home.
Well, when I say simple, it is mainly straight but there are several roundabouts in the closing few kilometres.
Thankfull the riders won’t have to make many 90-degree turns though with most of the roundabouts being travelled straight through. Having one at 250m to go will spice things up if a group arrives together.
How will the stage pan out?
A day tailor-made for the breakaway, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see the morning move make it all the way to the line.
There is of course a chance we see it come together for a sprint but who is really going to chase all day?
On Stage 4 we saw Aqua Blue and Quick-Step chase for the majority of the day, with some help from Lotto Soudal as well. Will we see a similar situation this time around? No.
It is a tough stage to control so it is more beneficial for a team to get a guy up the road early and re-assess the day after that. Doing so means they don’t have to chase behind which is ideal on this type of territory. If it is coming back, then they can change-up their plan to work for their sprinter.
The only danger for the breakaway in terms of succeeding, is if a current top 25 interloper is in their midst. In that case, Sky will more than likely keep the break on a tight leash and once we get into the final 40km, the sprinters teams could come to help reel it in.
Two of the riders who I had pencilled in for this stage actually made the move today, with one of them going on to win the stage. I’m not sure Lutsenko will go for back to back breakaways, but the other rider might…
An incredibly attacking rider, he won a similar type of stage back in the 2015 Vuelta, where the penultimate climb crested with 20km to go that time. He has the fighting spirit to make the break on multiple days in a row, we saw that in the Tour of Wallonie not too long ago. Clearly in great form at the moment, I think he could go even better tomorrow.
If Aqua Blue aren’t willing to chase all day then sending someone like Hansen up the road is a great idea. The Dane has had a fairly solid season so far, winning a couple of KOM jerseys for his efforts. He came in way down today, which could be a sign that he is struggling, or he could also be saving some energy. Who knows!? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow afternoon. A powerful rider with a fast kick, he might fancy his chances in a small group.
A rider that I am a massive fan of and you’re bound to be aware of that if you’ve read my blog for a little while now. With FDJ having a real mixed bag of a team here, they’ll be hoping to make the breakaways every day. Maison finished 10th for them today but I’m sure they’ll be hoping for more soon. Big T should be able to cope with the climbs and as a fairly good TTer then he could potentially attack and hold off his breakaway companions.
Not really in the GC picture anymore he is far enough behind to be given some freedom. The perfect type of rider for this style of stage where power is needed for the climbs and for the flat. He struggled in the heat on the earlier stages but he seems to be getting more aclimatised to it now. A big danger if he gets in the breakaway.
Another tough day with a breakaway win looking likely.
“Safe Pick” – GC Contender, i.e. Nibali.
You’re close to the top of the table, so you don’t want to take many risks. Backing a sprinter on a day like this is a very dangerous game as if the breakaway wins then the peloton might roll home together. Nonetheless, a GC rider is more likely to further ahead in the bunch in that situation.
“Wongshot Pick” – Break rider; Jungels.
Have a stab in the dark basically!
Lanterne Rouge Pick – Dunne
He seems to like to adopt the Cummings position on these types of stages.
Breakaway to stay away and Jungels to take a solo victory!
0.5pt WIN on them all;
Jungels @ 18
Hansen @ 300
Ludvigsson @ 250
Gougeard @ 125
Thanks as always for reading; who do you think will win tomorrow? Is it a nailed on break day? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.