Eneco Tour 2016 – Stage 6 Preview

By David Hunter

Riemst – Lanaken 185.2km

eneco 6

After a fairly conclusive TTT, the Eneco Tour heads for the hills.

eneco-6a

A massive thanks to the fine people at Lasterketa Burua, go give them a follow on Twitter.

This stage is significantly easier than in previous years, but with the GC still alive, it should be a very attacking day.

Tactics

The main difficulty for the sprinters, is the section between 143km and 150km. In that space of just 7km, we have three categorised climbs:-

Cote Bois la Dame – 900m at 12.2%.

Cote Rue Saivelette – 800m at 5%.

Cote Trois Fontaines – 1.1km at 5.7%.

This section looks too hard for the sprinters, especially if the GC riders attack each other.

Once over these climbs, there isn’t much time before more fun, as the organisers have again placed the golden kilometre on a hill. Cote de Halembaye is 800m at 8.6%, and will encourage plenty of attacks. Once we get through bonus street, there is still the final climb to deal with.The Muizenberg is 700m at 6.7% and crests with 17.3km remaining.

So many climbs in quick succession, plus the likelihood of many attacks will make this stage too hard for the sprinters. They have had their fun, it’s time for the puncheurs to join the party, and Sagan of course!

With BMC having multiple riders high on GC, it’s very difficult for the other teams to beat them, but they’ll try. Tony Martin is at 24 seconds, Sagan is 27 seconds, Terpstra is also at 27 seconds, with Van Avermaet at 33. It’s great that so many riders are close on time. This should ensure some crazy attacking, on the flat and on the climbs. Expect a fast and exciting race.

All teams will have the same objective, try and drop as many BMC riders as possible. That will be difficult as Dennis has Van Avermaet, Oss and Quinziato. All three of these riders can handle the climbs, in fact, Dennis is the weakest of the four! These riders will be used to follow all the attacks, basically nullifying any move. It will be very difficult for any team to break BMC in this stage.

Tinkoff will be more than happy if Sagan can win the stage and hopefully pick up some seconds in the golden kilometre. That means the pressure will be on them to chase down the moves. However, teams will be more than happy to chase, if they miss a break.

Whilst BMC, Tinkoff and Etixx will be embroiled in a battle for the GC, every other team will just be hunting stages. That should make for great racing, expect a number of breaks to form and then be caught. It will be like that for the majority of the last 70km.

Finale

eneco-6b

A downhill run with lots of corners, this is a very technical finish. The final 500m then kicks up at around 2%. It’s the sort of finish that is perfect for a solo rider.

Contenders

Peter Sagan – has to start the stage as the overwhelming favourite. He has already shown his ability to outsprint all the quick men and he certainly won’t be dropped.  A 10 second bonus for the stage would set him up for a huge stage on Sunday. Expect a dominant Tinkoff performance.

Greg Van Avermaet – BMC will be hoping he can deny Sagan. We haven’t seen much of him in this race, but he’ll be there to police any breaks when we hit the climbs. The uphill sprint is also great news for him, remember he beat Sagan in Montreal.

Oliver Naesen – super strong just now and has a good sprint. IAM have plenty of options for this stage, hopefully we see Naesen at the pointy end!

Tom Dumoulin – was attacking on Thursday, but to no avail. He seems to have good legs just now and is sure to attack.

Tiesj Benoot – another rider that will be licking his lips at a stage like this. Yet to win his first pro race, it has to happen sooner or later. Please be sooner.

Tim Wellens – knows that the GC will be very difficult to win this year. Instead, he’ll be determined to pick up a stage win. This weekend, he’ll have two opportunities. Expect Lotto to ride a very aggressive race.

Arnaud Demare – of all the sprinters, the Frenchman has the best opportunity. A rider who can handle the classics, he seems to be finding some form again. He’ll need to ride his luck and hope that any break is brought back, if they are, he has a great chance of getting his stage win.

Matteo Trentin – it’s highly unlikely that Kittel makes this finish and without Boonen, Etixx will look to the Italian. Trentin is a terrific rider, one of my favourites. He is often underrated, but he would easily be a team leader in most squads. He has previous for performing very well at the end of the season, but he knows that he’ll have to do something special to beat Sagan.

Prediction Time

Sagan v everyone else! I think we’ll get a small group away and it won’t come back. That group will feature the world champion and he’ll take his third stage win. If it comes back for a sprint, watch out for Demare, he is looking good.

OVERALL PREVIEW

David Hunter

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