By David Hunter
Puigcerdà – Sant Cugat Del Vallès 186.2km
Time for the GC riders to have a little rest.
A weird looking stage, with a big climb from the gun. Once that’s done, it turns into a battle of the break versus the sprinters. Who’ll win?
After the categorised climbs are finished, we still have a number of little bumps for the riders to tackle: 4km at 5%, 1km at 6%, 4.6km at 4.2%, 1km at 5.2%, 1.4km at 4.8%, 2.9km at 3.7% and 2.3km at 4.5%. The final climb crests with 12km remaining, which is good news for the morning break.
Looks easy, isn’t really. There are a few roundabouts to deal with, plus a tricky looking corner just after the flamme rouge.
Break or Sprint
The sprinters haven’t had a chance to stretch their legs yet. They’ll be disappointed to hear that this is a good day for the break. The climb at the very start means we should see a large break get up the road, sprinter teams have no chance of controlling the start.
Once the peloton gets over the climb, that’s when they can start to chase the move down. The problem is all the uncategorised climbs, these will take the sting out of the chasing group, making it difficult to keep the chase flowing. This is perfect for a strong break.
Another sunny day, with some wind coming off the Mediterranean Sea, but it shouldn’t be enough to split the race, but you just never know.
Tony Gallopin – didn’t have a great Paris-Nice and had to abandon due to sickness before the final stage. The Frenchman is a classy bike rider and enjoyed a successful 2018, culminating in a brilliant stage win in the Vuelta. Far down on GC, he’ll have freedom to attack and the opening climb is good for him to make the morning move. If he gets there, his sprint finish will worry his rivals.
Davide Villella – the strong rouleur is always interested in breakaway stages. He’s a talented rider and packs a relatively fast finish.
Carlos Verona – the break will really need a Movistar rider. The Spaniard is a good option for the team, after working hard all week, he deserves a bit of freedom. He’s bounced around a few teams for a number of years, not many riders can say they’ve been with QuickStep, Mitchelton and Movistar. He has plenty of class, but not much of a sprint, which could be a problem.
Dion Smith – sprinting power won’t be a problem for the Kiwi. After making the switch to the World Tour, he’s been impressive this week working for Impey. He’s one of those riders who can do everything quite well, something that helps in a breakaway stage. If he makes the move, he’d have one of the best sprints.
Jay McCarthy – bad luck hasn’t helped him this week. He would have been confident of challenging for the opening stage, but the break won. He would have been confident of challenging for the 2nd stage, but crashed. He’ll have to decide whether he goes for the break or not, a decision a lot of riders will be carefully thinking about.
Petr Vakoč – after slowly working his way back from injury, it’s great to see him back in the mix. The Czech rider has an enormous engine and would be well suited to a long day in the break. I hope his condition is good enough to allow him the chance of taking the win.
Andre Greipel – climbed well in the opening stage, if it somehow comes back together for a sprint, the German would certainly hope to be there. Despite his age, he’s still one of the fastest finishers in the pro peloton.
Thomas De Gendt – why the hell not?
After a couple of really hard days, I think we’ll see the break survive. The big climb at the start of the stage means we should get a big break, as long as no GC riders make the move, it should stay away. From the break, Dion Smith, will be the winner.
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