By David Hunter
Valls – Vila Seca 169.8km
Will we eventually get a sprint?
I think this is the day for the sprinters. The original route had to be altered, with the cat 3 climbs now coming closer to the finish, but I still think this is one for the quick men.
The start is uphill, but nothing that should worry a professional rider. I think we’ll see the sprinter teams take control from the gun and a small break will be allowed to slip away. The final climb crests with 50km remaining, giving the bunch plenty of time to bring the move back and set up a sprint finish.
Not pleasant viewing for the sprinters. The closing kilometres contain a number of roundabouts, including two in the final kilometre. Straight after that there is a double turn, making positioning incredibly important. This is a finale where you need to be right at the front with 5km to go, don’t try and come with a late rush.
Sunny with a little wind coming from the East.
Andre Greipel – like all the sprinters, the big German will be determined to have at least one chance to shine. His team aren’t the strongest, but they do still have a full complement of riders left in the race. He mentioned today that he was feeling fatigued, but he has the experience to cope with this and still perform well. His lead out worries me, but with so few sprinters, it should be easy to surf the wheels. Another issue is the technical finish, Greipel isn’t always the best in this type of finish.
Phil Bauhaus – 6th today wasn’t a bad result considering the amount of climbing. The 24-year-old hasn’t enjoyed a great start to 2019, but this is a big chance to take a World Tour win. Bahrain still have 7 men, which means they’ll be happy to chase. In the finale, they also have fast riders to place Bauhaus into a good position for the sprint.
Hugo Hofstetter – weird stat alert! The Frenchman has been pro since 2016, but this is his first ever mountainous World Tour stage race. He did race the Eneco Tour in 2016, that’s his only World Tour stage race. That is weird! The wee man is bound to be knackered after this week; I can’t see him being a feature in the sprint.
Michael Matthews – keeps on saying he’s tired, but keeps producing the goods. The Aussie should have a big option in the sprint, despite not being the fastest rider here. The other quick men will have their sprint slowed down by the tough week, giving Matthews a great chance of his second win this week.
Daryl Impey – keeps knocking on the door, but struggles against the proper sprinters. For Impey to win, it needs to be a perfect lead out.
Dries Devenyns – breakaway option number 1.
Alexis Gougeard – breakaway option number 2.
I think we’ll see Sunweb, Bahrain and Arkéa Samsic control the break and we’ll get a sprint. This should be a win for Phil Bauhaus.
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