My echelon dance last night didn’t work and we had a fairly benign day out for the riders, albeit with a fairly strong headwind on the way “home”. The sprint teams were amassed at the front of the peloton and we had a fairly chaotic run-in with sprinters disengaged from their trains as everyone jostled for position.
Some went too early, some went too late, but in the end it was the King of Headwind Sprints a.k.a Alexander Kristoff who took the win.
A very fast finishing Guardini was somewhat of a surprise in second place, while Ewan managed to hold on for third after opening up his sprint early. The top 10 is a smorgasbord of random riders with a few weird names up there and some notable exclusions.
Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow.
Much the same as today with a pan-flat parcours for the riders but I’m sure they’ll be happy to know that they’ll have 35km less to ride.
We do travel along the coast but there will be no chance of echelons unfortunately, much to my disappointment. Not much to shout about then until we get the run in to the finish.
A long, wide-open road will once again see the sprint teams battle for position as they approach the Flamme Rouge. No StreetView here either so a satellite image will have to suffice for the second day in a row.
The only major pinch point is when they turn off the big highway at 750m to go and the road narrows down to one lane.
This should in theory stretch things out and it is conceivably long enough for a team to control the closing kilometre. However, with the short sprint trains that we have at this race it will be tough if someone takes it up from far out.
What Can We Take From Today?
A bit, but not a lot!
It was a very chaotic sprint so the lack of structure might have made some results better than others, while also having the opposite impact too. For example, our stage winner Kristoff actually lost the wheel of his lead-out man (Ferrari) in the closing kilometre but latched onto the back of Ewan and effectively used the Mitchelton rider as his last man. An experienced decision that helped him win the stage.
QuickStep looked the most organised for Viviani but they went to the opposite side of the road to everyone which ended up being the Italian’s downfall. The lead-out ran out of steam and when Viviani launched he had no one to draft. In fact, he moved all the way back to the side where the sprinters were but he’d used up too much energy by then and could only settle for fourth. He still looks fast though.
Ewan had a great lead-out but launched too early and just faded in the final 50m. Possibly a bit of inexperience on his behalf. He does seem to be going well though and will fancy his chances in a non-headwind sprint tomorrow.
Guardini finished fast but was it a flash in the pan performance? Who knows! He’ll neeed a similar level of luck/cunning to go well tomorrow but we’ll see.
I have no idea what is wrong with Kittel at the moment. His lead-out was better today, albeit not great, but he just went backwards when he started sprinting. He can’t even argue that he was blocked off or anything as 2016 Kittel would have barged his way through the large gap that was there. He’s possibly ill or it might be his mental attitude that is letting him down but he doesn’t seem at 100% to me.
Jumbo blitzed the front today at around 3km out but they ran out of steam and Van Poppel was way-down in the end. If they time their coming to the head of the peloton better, then they certainly seem to have the firepower to dominate proceedings, they just need to have the patience.
As for the rest of the sprinters, I have no idea as to what happened to them as things were too chaotic or they were just simply too far down.
Given what we witnessed today it looks like a Ewan/Kristoff/Viviani showdown.
I think Mitchelton Scott will get the timing much better this time and the young Aussie will get the win.
Although there is a good chance we get another chaotic sprint and a potential surprise winner.
Thanks for reading as always! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see a similar result or will it be completely flipped around? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.