It finished in a bunch sprint, just, after the break of the day were caught just under 2kms to go. The frantic chase to catch them combined with the wide open road saw some riders go down as people tried to move up, with Zakarin being the main GC loser, shipping a shade under a minute.
The sprint was really messy but it was Gaviria who came out on top again thanks to some great work from Richeze, with Sagan and Greipel rounding out the podium.
Will the fast Colombian be a feature tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.
A day where a lot of things could potentially happen, it looks as if the route has taken inspiration from the Tour du Finistère but has made the parcours a lot more difficult. There are no massive climbs or anything overly challenging gradient wise, but the constant up and down on narrow roads might make things nervous.
As you can see on the profile, the final 50km of the day are very undulating and include two Cat-3 climbs along with many small uncategorised rises. Potential places for a counter attack depending on the race situation? Interestingly, the time bonus sprint comes at the top of a hill, the Côte de la chappelle de la Lorette which itself averages a very punchy 9.1% for 700m.
I’ve made a Veloviewer profile of the final 15km that you can view here.
The first rise on the road is the Bonus sprint point and it features ramps of almost 15% on narrow roads. I’m intrigued to see if any of the GC contenders will try to push on and take a few seconds. Will it be worth the effort or will they even get the freedom to do so?
A small descent and another short ramp follow before several kilometres of flat and descent. After that we then reach the second and easier climb in the final 15km.
At only 4.7% for close to 1.3km it shouldn’t cause too many issues but it will depend on how splintered the peloton is as to how easy it is to control. The wider road should help in that respect.
The fighting for position will be very intense once we are into the final 2kms as the riders will want to be near the front for when they turn off the two-lane main road onto a narrower one-track street.
470m at 8.2% sees the riders into the last 400m where the road itself constantly rises and falls ever so slightly as they twist and turn towards the finish line.
The last corner comes at roughly 200m to go and given its quite sharp nature and road furniture on exit, I don’t think the organisers expect a big group to be coming to the line together. Being in second or third wheel at that point gives you a great chance for the win.
The final kilometre is the exact same as in the Tour de Finistère so you can have a look on the video above to get an idea of what it is like.
How will the stage pan out?
One of those days where a lot of things can happen.
We could see the break go early and stay away to the line if there is no one of real danger for the overall in it, or if BMC are happy enough to let the jersey slip. Although with the team in difficulty for next year then I don’t think that will be the case.
Dependent on how tough the day is race we might actually have some small GC time gaps at the end of the day if people are caught behind splits on the run in, similar to what we had in the Giro stage that Wellens won, albeit that was a much tougher final climb. We might even see some GC attacks if someone is feeling lively: Yates and Valverde could be two protagonists as they are the type to go for it on this finish. The bonus seconds might turn out handy at the end of the race.
Which brings me nicely to the time bonus sprint at the top of the steep 700m hill. Will we see the aforementioned GC guys go for it there? If they do then the race will be incredibly stretched out and difficult to control with only 12km to go once they pass through the point. A small escape group might form there and make it to the line.
If not, it will come down to a gallop up the finish hill with some no doubt trying to string it out on the steeper opening part, hoping to put the faster riders into difficulty. In theory, the likes of Colbrelli, Matthews and Sagan should be able to fight for the victory with the latter starting as the big favourite for the day. However, if the pace has been high on the earlier climbs it might take the sting out of their sprints. Likewise, if we see a massive attack on the final ascent it could be difficult for them. I wouldn’t put it past Sagan being that guy to attack though!
I could name countless riders and the different situations in which they *might* win but I’m going to keep it simple and just go with two. So in the words of Ciara…
Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert.
There’s no point even separating the two of them here because they are both a very similar type of rider for this finish. Both of them are incredibly explosive and pack a punchy effort in the sprint just after a climb. After their success in two of the four stages so far I think Quick Step will want to continue their dominance at the race tomorrow by trying to take the yellow jersey, again. There is a possibility that they might save their efforts for the Mur de Bretagne on Thursday but this is Quick Step we are talking about: they only know how to win! It will be interesting to see how they approach the finale and if one of them attacks early. I think we might see Gilbert used as an early attacker on the time bonus climb, with Alaphilippe waiting to go all out at the finish. Or the other way round, who knows!
Gilbert to be rewarded for his season so far where he has been a super team-mate for others by taking the win and spending another day in the yellow jersey.
Tweeted out my picks when the market went live and prices have shortened a little but would still take what they are at now.
1pt WIN Gilbert @ 20/1 (now 18/1)
1pt WIN Alaphilippe @ 20/1 (now 16/1)
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.