By David Hunter
Bridlington – Scarborough 131.5km
Could this be a GC day?
A day which will worry some of the sprinters, but not all of them. The final half of the day contains a number of tough hills, where teams will want to make life tough, but it’s the weather that will cause the most concern.
Lythe Bank is a tough little climb. You can see the opening 500m is always above 10%, which will be a test for some. This climb will be raced at high speed, as riders must be at the front for the crest; more of that later…
Grosmont is the steepest climb of the day, but it is very short. Coming after a fast descent, the riders can carry some speed into the start, cancelling out a little bit of the hill. I don’t expect attacks, but it will burn the legs ahead of the most important climb of the day.
Ugglebarnaby Moor is where the damage can be done. Overall it is 3km at 6.2%, but includes 2km at almost 8%, which is going to challenge the quick men. Once over the top, it kicks up again for 600m at 6.6%, and we only have 30km remaining. The other issue is the narrow roads, positioning will be incredibly important for the GC contenders.
The run for home certainly isn’t flat, we have a number of short ramps for the bunch to deal with. This isn’t an easy day in Yorkshire.
This is where it gets interesting, as the forecast says wet and windy! The wind is coming from the north, which is unusual for this part of the world. This means a headwind for the opening 75km, but then switching to a crosswind, before a cross/tailwind for the journey home. With gusts of 40mph, it’s going to blow the race to pieces, especially when you add in the rain and cold conditions that the wind is bringing down from the Arctic.
As I’ve mentioned, we have a headwind for the beginning of the stage, but all of that changes when the peloton leave the village of Lythe. The bunch will already be lined out as they climb out of the village, but once the crest is almost reached, the crosswind fun should start. We have a 7km stretch of exposed roads and you can be sure the big teams will want to split things up. The road heads directly west and with the wind coming from the north, it is perfect for echelons. The road isn’t particularly wide either, which means only a handful of riders will fit, this could be carnage.
Once this section is finished, the bunch turn left and head in a south-east direction. This means we’ll have a cross/tailwind for the next 8km, making it impossible for any dropped riders to get back to the front. During this section, I would expect the front group to slim down even more, if the weather forecasters have got it right. This leads the bunch into the Grosmont climb, but this section is covered and hard to split, but it is going uphill, which means we have more problems. Shortly after the climb of Ugglebarnaby Moor, there is another exposed part of the course, before the riders eventually start to head south and begin the charge for home, which will be aided by a strong tailwind, meaning it will be almost impossible to catch the front group.
This is the finish the organisers always use in Scarborough, but will we see a sprint?
Greg Van Avermaet – a tough day in the saddle should suit him down to the ground. I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t make the front echelon, if the group splits, he’s just far too good to miss out. As we all know, Greg has a fast sprint from a reduced group, he would be a massive danger to the other riders, but is he on top form? This race comes at the end of a long block for the Olympic champion, he must be starting to feel some fatigue in his legs. Not only that, but he crashed on Sunday, and took a couple of days off his bike. To win this stage, he’ll need strong support from his CCC team, but how many of them will survive the echelons?
Owain Doull – a great option for Team Ineos. The Welshman has really impressed this season, it looks like he worked hard over the winter and is now starting to reap the rewards. His best result was 2nd place in Kuurne, but he doesn’t get too many chances to ride for himself. I would expect to see Team Ineos have the most riders in any split, possibly four or five men. This will allow them to test the other teams and see if they crack under the pressure. Doull possesses a fine sprint, especially after a tough day in the saddle.
Alexander Kamp – the Dane would hope to survive in the front group, but I have my doubts. If he does, he has a very fast sprint and would be the favourite to take the stage.
Jonathan Hivert – the willy old fox! The French rider loves tough conditions, and he’ll look forward to this. He took an impressive win in GP Miguel Indurian and also managed to finish 5th on Col Turini, in the Queen stage of Paris-Nice. He’s a rider who goes well in Britain, he was 3rd here in 2016 and 10th in 2017, also challenging for stage wins in the Tour of Britain in the same year. If he makes the front group, he’ll be confident of winning the sprint, but he won’t have any teammates to help make this happen.
Connor Swift – it would be great to see the British champion challenging for this one. He is exactly the type of rider who could well in this stage, a mix of power, climbing ability and tactical nous. Not one you often see challenging in sprints, he does pack a fast finish, especially from a reduced group. Winning on home soil, in the British jersey, would be a fairy tale for him.
This stage will go down in race history as one of the hardest ever stages. We’re talking about awful roads, terrible weather and nowhere to hide. Hold onto your hats, this is going to be hell. Team Ineos to blow the race apart and take the glory. They’ll have the largest representation in the front group, and I expect Owain Doull to take the win.
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