By David Hunter
La Tour De Salvagny – Macon 175.5km
Last chance for the sprinters.
Another day that begins with a climb, the sprinters will not be happy! Luck for them, it’s only 1.4km at 8.6%! The first, and only, major climb of the stage is the cat 2 ascent of Col du Fut d’Avenas, which is 8.8km at 5.1%. It crests with over 100km remaining, making it have little impact on the race. Despite a couple of bumps, as we head towards Macon, this should be a sprint finish.
We have roundabouts and tight corners, this is a technical finish. The fight to control the bunch will begin early, it is important to be in control with 3km remaining. The roundabout inside the final kilometre, makes it difficult for riders to make up positions in the bunch. The team controlling from 2km stands a great chance of taking the win.
The best day of the week, so far. The bunch will enjoy beautiful sunshine as they head towards Macon.
Arnaud Demare – he won the opening sprint of the race and then “won” the bunch sprint on Tuesday. It looks like Demare is the fastest sprinter in the race. Not only that, but FDJ have one of the best trains here. The finish is good for a team with a long sprint train, something they certainly have. This race will have done wonders for his confidence, especially with the Tour de France starting in a few weeks.
Alexander Kristoff – after a period of illness, the Norwegian should be improving everyday. You could argue that Katusha have the strongest sprint train, especially if Morkov can start to fire. With some questions surrounding the form of Kristoff, a win would be hugely significant for him, and his team.
Nacer Bouhanni – like Kristoff, he should be improving everyday. In a flat sprint, he is the fastest rider here, but his lead out train is missing Laporte. One man isn’t everything, but Laporte is a rider that can put Bouhanni at the front of the race with 250m remaining. Cofidis will have to ride a very clever last 5km, to get Bouhanni into a good position. If at the front, he has a big chance of winning.
Bryan Coquard – he disappointed on Monday, but still has what it takes to take a win. His lead out men are fast, but the technicality of the finish cries out for a longer train. For Coquard to win, I think the others need to make a mistake.
Anyone Else – it would be a big surprise if one of the big 4 didn’t win, or if they make a mess of the chase!
I still can’t see past Arnaud Demare.
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