By David Hunter
Barcelona – Barcelona 146km
Time for the final stage.
This is a very familiar stage, one that always gives us exciting racing. What it doesn’t usually give us is gaps between the GC riders. Will that change this year? Miguel Ángel López currently leads the race by 14 seconds to Adam Yates, Egan Bernal is a further 3 seconds back. It looks like these are the only riders capable of taking the GC, you can be sure that López is in for a busy day.
Astana are not here with their top team, which means a lot of work will fall on the shoulders of Kudus and Bilbao, the Colombian will need them to be around deep into the finale of the race, but that is not guaranteed.
7 laps around the streets of Barcelona, including two climbs: 2.3km at 4.9% and 700m at 6%. This is the reason we don’t usually see gaps between the top GC riders, the climbs just aren’t hard enough. The descents are very fast, remember a flying Mohorič in 2018?
This stage starts earlier than the rest of the week, which is good news. There is a lot of rain forecast for later in the afternoon, the peloton might get lucky and avoid the worst of it. There will also be quite a strong wind from the east.
It’s over to Team Sky and Mitchelton-Scott. They are the teams trying to put Astana under pressure and set up a frantic final lap. There won’t be any fancy tactics, just make the pace really hard and drop as many riders as you can. A clever move would be to try and get a helper up the road, allowing Bernal or Adam Yates to jump across to them in the final lap. To get a gap and keep it will require some help, keep your eye out for Simon Yates, who won this stage last year.
Adam Yates – winning the stage will certainly be required if he wants to take the GC. His sprint isn’t fast enough to win from a small group, he needs to drop everyone and go solo. This means his brother shouldn’t have any freedom, instead, he’ll be needed to set a fast pace and blow the peloton to pieces. Winning isn’t going to be easy for Yates, mainly because of his sprint.
Egan Bernal – the Colombian does have the sprint required to win this stage. Sky will want to make life very difficult for Astana, then Bernal will attack. His week has been very frustrating, he’s looked the strongest rider, but no one wants to work with him. With everyone now looking at López, there is a chance for Bernal to escape the bunch and solo to victory.
Dan Martin – he’s been close here in the past. Sitting in 5th place on GC, he is 46 seconds behind López, which could buy him some freedom. He’s not quite been at the same level as the big 4, but he’s not far off. This is a stage that suits him well, he has the punch required to gap most of his rivals. His sprint isn’t too bad either, but he won’t win from a big group.
Max Schachmann – one of the best riders this week. His stage win was a fantastic effort and reward for a strong showing. If he has something left in the tank, this is a great opportunity for him. It has been known for an attacking rider to take the stage, something he’ll hope happens again. He sits 2nd in the sprints competition, if he wants to win it, he needs to get in the break and hope Matthews doesn’t.
Michael Woods – another rider who’ll be hoping for a little freedom from the main GC riders. He sits in 7th place, 1:42 behind the leader, which certainly buys him some movement. The Canadian is an impressive climber, but his tactical decisions aren’t always the best. To win this stage, he needs to time his attack to perfection.
Miguel Ángel López – surprised today with a cheeky attack in the closing kilometres. It didn’t work, but it sent a message out to his rivals. He clearly has strong legs just now; it won’t be easy for the others to beat him. Winning the stage isn’t his goal, he just wants to hold onto the GC.
Nairo Quintana – I just can’t see him winning this stage. Movistar have the team required to send riders up the road, in the hope that Quintana can bridge, but can he escape the others on short climbs? The answer is no.
I expect fireworks between the big guys, but things should come back together due to the nature of the circuit. When the dust settles, a rider further down on GC will get some freedom to attack. I’ll go with a win for Michael Woods.
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