By David Hunter
Be’er Sheva – Eilat 229km
The last day in Israel.
Nothing much to worry about, in terms of the profile, but the route does take the peloton through a desert. Will the wind blow?
Sunny, with quite a lot of wind. It is coming mainly from the north, but if it swings round a little, it will be echelon time.
Very tricky! The bunch head down a straight road, but it is relatively narrow. The final 3km then gets technical. We have two roundabouts between kilometre 3 and 2, before a u-turn on a big roundabout at 1.6km remaining. There is a big sweeping bend as the flamme Rouge approaches, before a tight corner with just 350m left. This is a tough finish and difficult to organise sprint trains.
Elia Viviani – nailed the sprint today. The Italian did lose some positions, but was rescued by Fabio Sabatini. Once Mareczko launched the sprint, Viviani was straight on his wheel and the win was his. This finish is a good one for QuickStep, as they seem to have the best sprint train in the race. The other positive is that they are brilliant in the wind. If we get echelons, they will be the protagonists.
Jakob Mareczko – he was impressive today, such a shame he had to launch his sprint from a few wheels back. This will always be the problem for him as his team just aren’t strong enough. If we get wind, the little Italian will be out the back.
Danny Van Poppel – another rider that will enjoy tough conditions. His team did a good job today, but he didn’t have the legs. He needs to dust himself down and refocus, these things happen when you are a sprinter. Jumbo are a good team in echelons, but they have to also ensure that George Bennett is looked after.
Sam Bennett – finished 3rd today, which is a decent start. The Irishman missed out as Viviani was quicker onto the wheel of Mareczko, I don’t think it was anything to do with speed. That should give him some confidence and I do believe he can win a stage in this race. Bora are still getting to grips with their reduced train, but it seemed strong today.
Tim Wellens – if we get a race blown apart by the wind, Wellens is exactly the type of rider who can take advantage. Lotto have a lot of riders who perform well in echelons and Wellens is a master at taking opportunities.
I was impressed by a number of riders today, all of whom will be expecting to challenge in this stage. Looking at the finish, having the best lead out man will be very important, that’s why I think Sam Bennett will take the win.
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