By David Hunter
Riemst – Venray 191.4km
The last day for the sprinters
Standard sprint stage, with a lap circuit finish. Can anyone stop Sam Bennett? Note the above picture says 184.5km, but the organisers claim the stage is 191.4km, which I think is true.
There is a small chance of rain, but it looks likely that it will stay dry. We have a similar wind speed to the rest of the week, coming from the south-west. There is a perfect spot to create some echelons, which comes at the 130km mark and lasts for around 8km, but the wind just doesn’t look strong enough to me.
We have 19 men within 50 seconds of Tim Wellens, the other 130 riders are all over 2 minutes down. Usually this would mean a big chance for the attackers, but I think it depends on the attitude of Jumbo and UAE. Will these teams be happy to help chase the break with Bora? Will they refuse to work due to the dominance of Bennett? The wind coming from the south-west means a cross/tailwind for much of the day, which will also help the breakaway.
Nice and easy for the bunch.
Sam Bennett – the Irishman has been in dominant form this week, even though he doesn’t have a sprint train. He has managed to glide from train to train in the closing stages, always making the right decision at the crucial points. Once the sprint opens up, he seems a little faster than everyone else. With three wins to his name, he’ll be full of confidence and very hard to beat.
Dylan Groenewegen – he’s getting closer to Bennett, but still not able to beat him. The Dutch sprinter is clearly feeling tired after the Tour de France, but as he seems to be improving, he’ll have hopes of winning this stage. The stage finishes in the Netherlands, which means Jumbo and Groenewegen will be super motivated to take a win in front of home support.
Jasper Philipsen – 4th, 2nd and 3rd in the sprints this week, which is nice and consistent. The Belgian is one of the fastest in this race, and he does have a good sprint train, but he’s been left slightly out of position in the final kilometre. To win this stage, and beat Bennett and Groenewegen, it needs to be the perfect lead out. Are UAE capable of delivering this?
Edward Theuns – Trek have nailed the lead out this week, but 2nd in the opening stage is all they have to show for it. We’ll never know what might have been in Ardooie if they hadn’t made such an awful decision and let Pedersen sprint. Moving into this stage, they will hope to deliver the perfect lead out and let fast Eddy take the win.
Baptiste Planckaert – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Bob Jungels – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Laurens De Vreese – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Jan Bakelants – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Boring sprint stage, with Sam Bennett to complete the set.
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