It was one of those days in women’s cycling where we don’t see a break throughout the day, with the teams constantly closing down the moves. Andersen of Hitec did manage to get a 20 second gap at one point when in the final 20km but even then she was quickly reeled back in before the inevitable bunch sprint.
After winning the closing sprint in last year’s race, it was once again d’Hoore who took home the victory after a strong gallop to the line in what was quite a hectic finale.
Bastianelli finished a close second with Rivera rounding out the podium in third place.
Will we see something similar tomorrow? Let’s take a look at what is in store for the riders.
A much more rolling day out with the road constantly up or down, even if it is just ever so slightly.
We could see some early attacks, but the likelihood is that the day will be decided by its main focal point – the last climb of Newnham hill.
The climb itself averages 6.4% for 1.31km according to the Strava profile I’ve made, but with the steepest ramps coming near the top (a 200m section at 13%), then it is the perfect launchpad for riders to put in some stinging late attacks.
Once over the top, the road descends pretty steeply on narrow roads for around 800m before levelling out. At this point the riders will only have 1.7km left to a chase will have to be organised quickly for things to be brought back together for a reduced bunch sprint.
We could see a lot of cat and mousing on the run in as riders constantly attack off the front.
In the closing 400m the road bends around gently while gradually climbing uphill at around 2-3% for around half of that distance.
There is quite a tight right hand turn with just over 100m to go, at which point the road narrows down to one lane. Positioning through the turn will be vital.
How will the stage pan out?
This could be one of the more decisive GC days because of the proximity of the final climb to the finish. If we see some strong attacks from the puncheurs then they could create fairly significant gaps over the sprinters, and I think we’ll see exactly that.
The race will be held together and the constantly undulating and heavy roads will make it a day of attrition more than anything else before that final climb.
From there it will be a springboard for plentiful attacks but given that it is only 1.3km in length, some of the sprinters will fancy their chances of holding on. However, I think a select group of maybe 20-30 riders (at most) will get over it together, just because of how fast the pace will be.
It is then a case of who controls things for a reduced bunch sprint, or will a splinter group/lone attacker manage to get away on what is left of the day?
There are some obvious names to look out for, including Vos, Rivera, Bastianelli and Van Dijk in a reduced bunch sprint to the line but I think a splinter group will form so I’m going to name some candidates who might be there.
An unfortunately timed mechanical today saw her chances of a good stage and possibly GC result ruined as she finished 38 seconds behind the main group. This however, will give her some more freedom to attack and chase a stage win. We saw in Thüringen just how strong she is at the moment and the short, punchy climb suits her perfectly tomorrow. Packing a fast finish, I think she’ll bounce back strongly.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot.
She’s not had the best of road seasons so far but juggling a season of cyclocross and mountain bike alongside the WWT peloton then this was always going to happen as it would be impossible to be in peak form all the time. However, a recent win in the Sea Otter mountain bike race will have given her confidence and after that race she said the sensations were excellent. Tomorrow’s climb and finish would be ideal for 2014 vintage PFP, but can she find that spark on the road again?
The World Champion mastered the Cauberg so tomorrow’s climb will be no issue for her. Boels have a strong squad with them so it will be interesting to see who they go with tomorrow as it is really hard to read their approach after today’s stage. They should have numbers in the front group and that will be to their advantage massively. Blaak has a great sprint on her so from even a group of 20 she will fancy her chances.
None of them will win though, instead it will be local rider Hannah Barnes who takes victory.
The Barnes sisters hail from nearby Towcester so will be incredibly motivated for a good result and will no doubt know tomorrow’s roads like the back of their hand. Hannah has really impressed me so far this year and has taken a step up, especially with her ability on the short climbs. Given the field here, she should stay in touch with the head of the race over the ascent and there won’t be many faster than her in a tough sprint.
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.