Just a heads up, this preview will be shorter than normal as I have to write for both tomorrow and Sunday’s stage this evening due to me being away this weekend. It also means that in tomorrow’s preview I’ll just be assuming a few things and there will be no “today’s recap”.
A strong break went but they were never given too much leeway from Sky and after Bora took the bait, things were close enough once onto the final climb to ensure that a GC rider was going to win the day.
Dan Martin took advantage of a lull in the pace once things regrouped after a Soler attack, with the UAE rider putting in a stinging dig that no one could, or wanted to, match. Geoghegan Hart returned to the head of what was left of the peloton and set tempo for Thomas, before swinging off at roughly 1km to go. The Welshman attacked and only Bardet could follow, but he could only manage to do so for a few hundred metres before swinging off. It left Thomas to chase down Martin on his own and he was slowly reeling him in all the way until the line but it was too late.
Martin held on for the win with Thomas finishing 4 seconds behind and Yates sprinted out of the pack to round out the podium in third, a further 10 seconds back.
The result means that Thomas moves into Yellow and increases his lead over everyone bar Martin, with nearest challenger Caruso sitting 1’09 down going into the weekend.
Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow.
A tad over 4000m of climbing in only 110km, this could be interesting. Furthermore, this will pretty much be a carbon copy of stage 11 on this year’s Tour.
The climbs are long, but none of them are overly steep, with the toughest ascent of the day being the first. You can just read the percentages on the profile, no time for semantics today!
As for the final climb it starts off easy and finishes easy, it is just the middle third which has quite a high average gradient. Anyone looking to put their rivals into difficulty will need to do so here.
How will the stage pan out?
Pffffft, no idea!
On paper at least, you would imagine that it should be a GC day given the amount of climbing involved but after Thomas’ dominant performance today, some might not be so keen on having their teams chase all day.
Therefore, we’ll need to see some brave and most likely doomed early attacks from the GC contenders, or Sky will just control things all day. The long, steady climbs are perfect for them. It’s then a question of them making it a GC day or not? They don’t need to as they can afford to ride a defensive race, but when has that ever stopped them before?
Or of course, we could see a hail mary, guns-blazing stage where the peloton is down to 20 guys after the first climb.
I do actually think the break has a decent chance tomorrow because of how strong Thomas and Sky looked today. Even if things get crazy on the opening climb the yellow jersey shouldn’t be exposed and I would expect him to have at least 3 team-mates with him when everyone else is down to one or two. Teams will need to be inventive to beat Sky so sending a man up the road can never hurt as they can always act as a bridge for a GC attack late on. Of course, Sky can then play the bluff game and let the gap extend out too far for the man up the road to be made redundant.
To sum up: I don’t know.
As it is more fun to play the breakaway lottery than just say Thomas will win, I’ll do that…
See yesterday’s preview. He was with the main group of GC favourites for a while up the final climb, highlighting he has good form. Bardet couldn’t match Thomas today and it will be a tough ask for him to win the title. Ag2R potentially will change their approach and be aggressive by getting Gallopin up the road.
Birthday boy, the Wanty rider has impressed me so far and he is definitely one of my favourite Pro-Conti level climbers. He sits a rather awkward 4:15 down on GC so it might cause Sky into chasing but then again, they would fancy reducing the gap on the final climb and he wouldn’t be much of a threat the following day after being in the break all day.
Yep, you read that right. He’s been super impressive so far this race, staying with Bilbao deep into the climbs. With his team-leader falling away a bit today, the Dane might be given the opportunity to chase his own result tomorrow. He’s a brute of a rider, but when he burst onto the scene he was considered a potential GC rider in the future. Can he roll back the clock? He finished 14th on the similarly short stage in Paris Nice this year.
The BMC rider just disappeared from the head of the standings on stage 2, where he finished 5 minutes down, and followed that up by coming home 13 minutes behind on stage 4. I thought he could have potentially been ill but a 33rd place today after helping Caruso would suggest that he is either on the mend, or was deliberately losing time. He has the ability to win this tomorrow from a breakaway group.
Short Stages – Overkill?
Just a quick few thoughts on short stages in general.
I can understand where organisers are coming from in trying to put in a short stage here or there to spice things up and throw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons, but to have three in a row here is just odd and overkill in my opinion. The whole point of having a short stage is so to entice riders into going full gas one day and completely shake up the order of a race. Having more than one in a row means that a rider might be concerned the following stage could be that day so they won’t want to waste their reserves on the wrong day and completely blow up when the action happens. It could, rather ironically, lead to more boring racing if everyone expects a GC raid kind of day and instead just rides defensively.
One of the reasons cycling is so interesting to follow in my opinion is the wide variety of stage you can get, but these short days are all “samey”. I’m a fan of them occasionally, but just not this much!
The birthday boy to win. Allez Guillaume! (for the second time this race)
1pt GMartin @ 25/1
0.5pt Gallopin @ 125/1
0.5pt Valgren @ 100/1
0.5pt Teuns @ 300/1
Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? How will the stage pan out? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.