By David Hunter
Les Bréviaires – Bellegarde 163km
Another stage that was planned to be for the sprinters.
Flat as a pancake, but we need to look at the weather.
Not as bad as today, but we’re still talking about 20mph wind and gusts of up to 30mph. The wind is coming from the North-West, meaning we have a cross/tailwind for much of the day. That is perfect for riders to split the bunch.
The map doesn’t show it, but we do have some gentle corners in the final 500m, but nothing to worry about. Most of the final 5km is fully exposed to the elements, we could even see some gutter action in the closing stages.
Not as windy as today, but conditions look good for echelons. We have a couple of sections that will worry the riders, as they are exposed and long. The first of these comes after 60km and lasts for around 10km. The next opportunity is after 105km and lasts for 15km. The final chance is in the final 8km, making setting up the sprint very difficult. This section of road is perfect for splits and teams will be looking to put the hammer down.
Dylan Groenewegen – that was hugely impressive today. Jumbo-Visma worked perfectly for their sprinter and he delivered the win. I had doubted his ability to hang tough in windy conditions, shame on me! Going into this stage, the team will have a large amount of confidence, but there is no guarantee of a repeat performance. Delivering two perfect stages, in tough conditions, is very difficult. He looks the fastest sprinter here, but Ewan pushed him all the way today. Can he deliver another win?
Caleb Ewan – the little man is good in windy conditions. He has the benefit of a full squad to look after him, not something all the sprinters have. With Jasper De Buyst having to quit the race, Ewan is left without his final man, which will force him to look for Groenewegen’s wheel. He nearly passed him today, he’ll be quietly confident of beating him in this stage.
Sam Bennett – 4th today wasn’t a bad result, but he would have hoped for better. As I mentioned, he can cope with these conditions, sometimes it helps growing up in Ireland! He has a very fast lead out man in Jempy Drucker, if they get it right, he should be challenging for the win.
Alexander Kristoff – a mechanical ruined his chances today, not poor legs. He’ll have been gutted to miss out in such a tough stage and he’ll want to show himself tomorrow. The Norwegian loves a demanding stage and he’ll hope to feature in the finale.
Fabio Jakobsen – finished well today, netting 3rd place. He missed a few of the splits, something I wasn’t overly impressed with. He’s just getting over a recent illness, that might explain some rustiness on his part. His fast sprint was encouraging, and he should be hopeful of taking a win this week.
John Degenkolb – he seemed to really enjoy himself today. The big German has some powerhouses to help him in the echelons, I noticed a strong performance by Edward Theuns and Koen de Kort. He might not have the pure speed compared to some of his rivals, but he’ll be confident of surprising.
Arnaud Démare – he was poor in today’s sprint, possibly still recovering from his illness. He won’t be very happy, and his team will demand a better result.
Michal Kwiatkowski – looked very good today. The Pole managed to pick up 5 bonus seconds, something which could be very important come the end of the week. If the race is really tough, he might just pinch a win.
Again, I think the race will split. The problem is picking when! The final 8km is very exposed and this is where we’ll see some sprinters getting dropped and things will get very selective. In the chaos, John Degenkolb will emerge victorious. The big German does enjoy a hard day out.
Remember I’ve now got a podcast too. Go and give it a listen
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2019 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved