By David Hunter
Mataró – Sant Feliu De Guíxols 167.8km
An interesting looking stage.
After being disappointed today, the sprinters will be keen on fighting it out for this stage, but the finish certainly isn’t easy. Once the peloton hit the beach, the riders head out on one lap of a tricky looking circuit, featuring a few climbs.
The first passage of the finishing line sees the riders potentially pick up some bonus seconds. This comes at the top of a little drag and the GC riders will certainly be interested in it. The 2nd sprint comes with under 8km remaining and is another great chance to collect 3 seconds. These seconds could be vital by the end of the week.
Alto de Romanya
Cresting with 25km remaining, this climb will be too hard for some of the quick men, as it’s 5.9km at 4.7%, with a maximum of 11%. A nice descent leads into the finale of the stage.
As you can see, the final 12.5km isn’t straightforward. Not only do we have some lumps along the way, but the majority of the time the peloton are on narrow roads beside the beach. Positioning will be very important, that’s for the GC riders as well as the sprinters.
The descent into the final 2km is fast and flowing, a rider who takes some risks could get a little gap. The peloton then have to dodge between some beachside cafes, before beginning the final drag up to the line. This is not an easy finish.
The gradients aren’t particularly challenging, but the final 700m does kick up at an average of 5%.
Long and straight, this is all about pure power. A few of the sprinters who have managed to survive until this point will quickly find themselves going backwards, this type of finish is not for your pure sprinter. After such a fast descent, it will be very difficult for those further back to challenge for the stage. To win the stage, you must be on the front from 3km to go, that will discount most of the field.
Another sunny day, but with more wind. Coming from the north-east, it will mean a headwind for the opening 90km of the stage. Once the peloton turn and head towards the finishing town, it turns into a tailwind for a long section. There will be some crosswind sections, but I doubt we’ll see any splits, but teams need to be aware.
Michael Matthews – I’m not sure what to make of Matthews today. His team didn’t chase as he was on his limit during the climbs, and his sprint certainly lacked some power. We must remember that Milan-Sanremo was his first full race of the season, he’ll be feeling that effort for a few days. As this stage is much easier, he should reach the end feeling much better, but there is no guarantee. If he was 100%, he’d easily win this stage.
Andre Greipel – the problem isn’t the final drag, it’s the fast descent leading into it. Greipel will lose too many positions and won’t be able to challenge for the win.
Daryl Impey – won a tough uphill sprint in the 2018 Dauphiné, I wonder what he’ll do here. Mitchelton-Scott are usually very good at positioning, but they’ll need to ensure that their GC riders are well protected in the closing stages. If Impey starts his sprint near the front, he’ll be challenging for the win.
Jay McCarthy – started his sprint from too far back today, but finished quickly. Bora have a funny looking squad; they seem to have more GC riders than domestiques. McCarthy might have to do a fair amount of the positioning work himself, that could cost him some vital energy. I did mention his recent stay at altitude, the Aussie looks to be very lean and I expect to see him sprinting for the podium.
Paddy Bevin – started his sprint from too far out today, but this finish suits him better. He surprised in the Tour Down Under, winning a grippy sprint, something that will give him confidence for this finish. Winning a stage in the TDU and a stage in Catalunya are two entirely different things, no offence to the organisers of the TDU! Winning this stage would be a huge achievement for Bevin, I hope he starts the final kilometre in a good position.
Alejandro Valverde – the master of a tricky Spanish sprint! He’ll be on the front of the bunch for most of the final 20km, making sure he stays out of trouble and hoping to collect some bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints. Once we get into the finale, he has the team to control the final 5km and put him into a wonderful position for the sprint. This is exactly the type of finish he enjoys, but he would have liked it to be a little longer. He’ll sense a big opportunity to win the stage and claim 10 seconds.
Too many questions surrounding the current form of Matthews, for me to pick him. I think Movistar will control the finish and Alejandro Valverde will take his first home win in the rainbow jersey.
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