By David Hunter
Huércal Overa – San Javier. Mar Menor 155.7km
At last, a normal sprint stage.
Only two cat 3s for the peloton to worry about. No way the break survives, this is one for the sprinters.
Sunny as per usual, but the wind could have a big say in this stage. When the peloton turn left in La Unión, they head due North to the finish. With the wind coming from the East, we have perfect conditions for echelons. There is a 10km stretch of exposed roads, which is perfect for a team to do some damage. Coming close to the end of the stage, this will make the GC teams a little nervous.
Can Viviani Be Beaten?
The Italian has enjoyed a phenomenal season, taking 15 sprint victories. However, this is not Kittel in last year’s Tour de France, the Italian is certainly beatable. Cast your mind back to the Giro, Sam Bennett ended the race the better sprinter.
In Viviani’s favour is one of the few dedicated sprint trains in the race. With Mørkøv and Sabatini, QuickStep are always going to be in a brilliant position. They only squad who can compete with them is Mitchelton-Scott, with Edmondson and Mezgec. The problem the Aussies have is that Trentin is not sprinting well.
Sagan and Nizzolo did push Viviani on Monday, but in reality they were miles away from beating him. Can anyone stop the Italian?
We have a big turn with 4km remaining, that opens onto a nice two lane road, which is made even wider by a well maintained cycling path. There is time and space for riders to move up the bunch, if misplaced in the previous corner.
Inside the final kilometre, we then have an enormous compression point. The peloton come from a two lane road, to a narrow entrance for the roundabout. They then have to go all the way round the roundabout, before hitting the final straight. The roundabout is a very small one, making bike handling skills important. If a single team have enough numbers, they could spread across the road and ensure everyone takes the roundabout at a sensible speed, but we could still get some daredevils!
No need for a list of contenders, as Elia Viviani will take an easy win.
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