By David Hunter
Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia 184km
The Queen stage.
We’ve already had one mythical climb in this year’s race, now it’s time for another. The stage features Colle Delle Finestre, with it’s gravel roads. This is the hardest stage of the race, which comes at the perfect point, as we have seen a moment of weakness from Simon Yates.
The riders start climbing from the gun, but the only point to worry about is 5km at 7.1%, which starts after 35km. The rest of the climb is easy and won’t have an impact, but the difficult section will be the point where the break could establish.
The beast in all it’s glory. We have 18.5km at 9.2%, with 45 hairpin bends. The first half of the climb is on tarmac, the second half is on a gravel road. Once over the top, we have a very technical descent, one that will concern a number of the GC favourites.
The climb up to Sestrière is very easy and well known to many of the riders.
The stage ends with a real kick, 7.25km at 9.1%. This is a cruel finish to a demanding day in the saddle. If riders have gone too deep early in the stage, they will explode at this point.
Cloud, sun and maybe some thunderstorms. The wind is light and coming from the south-west. If it rains, Finestre will be horrible,
No idea! After all the breaks getting closed down, today they rolled off the front, never to be seen again. It is impossible to predict what will happen tomorrow, but I get the feeling Mitchelton-Scott won’t be chasing, unless Sky are trying to send riders down the road. If a GC team can place riders up the road, it will allow attacks on Colle Delle Finestre, the GC riders will need teammates to help until the final climb. Without help, it looks unlikely we’ll get attacks until the end. This is what could end the hopes of the morning break, but we’ll have to wait and see.
After today, Tom Dumoulin is sitting 28 seconds behind Simon Yates. We have a bike race! After dominating for 17 stages, Yates has now offered his rivals a chance. In his defence, today’s climb was one that suited Dumoulin, this stage looks better for Yates.
Saying that, if Yates is getting tired, this stage will be impossible for him. We also have Pozzovivo at 2:43 and Froome at 3:22, they could get involved in the fight of pink. The profile of the stage, and Yates showing weakness, will ensure that Sky will try and attack. As I have mentioned, Colle Delle Finestre, comes with a long way to go. If this climb is going to have a big impact, teams will want satellite riders up the road. It will be up to Mitchelton-Scott to stop this from happening.
The problem for the Aussies is that they have cooked their domestiques. Chasing every move down for a number of stages have left their helpers very tired and the cracks are starting to show. This is their own fault, they have no one to blame, I have no idea why they have been so keen to chase down every breakaway. The other teams will now be sensing an opportunity to strike.
Chris Froome – the form is coming. He was nice and strong today, expect him to be even better in this stage. With the help of his team, he can make this stage very difficult for the others. My only concern would be the descent off Colle Delle Finestre, which is a little technical. Froome has vastly improved his downhill skills, but these seem to have abandoned him during this race. It will be fascinating to see how they approach this race, I sense a big day in the mountains for the Sky mountain train.
Domenico Pozzovivo – same as usual today, was very strong, but no win. Despite his brilliant race, he is in danger of sliding off the podium. The little Italian is 2:15 behind Dumoulin and only 39 seconds ahead of Froome. It would be a real shame if he did miss out, hopefully it forces him into riding an attacking race.
Tom Dumoulin – performed well today and has hopes of defending his pink jersey will have been boosted. Dumoulin knows this stage will be very difficult for him, but he showed his battling qualities in winning the jersey last year. He will hope that Sam Oomen will survive deep into the stage, he will need some help, especially if Team Sky dominate the race. It’s unlikely he’ll win the stage, but he could end the day in the pink jersey.
Miguel Angel Lopez – a very strong performance today, his form seems to be peaking at the right time. He now sits 30 seconds behind Pinot and has a real chance of moving into the top 5. Looking at the gradients of the climbs, this is a stage that should suit him. He will be hopeful of taking another grand tour stage win.
Simon Yates – oh dear, this is not what he wanted. Yates has now shown some weakness and his rivals will have been buoyed by this. On paper, this is a good stage for him, but he now has to answer some questions. Thoughts of winning more stages will now be forgotten about and Yates will focus on defending his lead. One problem will be a lack of domestiques, after some poor decisions by his bosses, this will make it hard to cover moves. If he is still in contact on the final climb, he just has to follow Dumoulin. If isolated on Colle Delle Finestre, he’ll need to watch the moves of Dumoulin, Pozzovivo and Froome. It’s not looking good for him.
Fabio Aru – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Ben Hermans – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Giulio Ciccone – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Michael Woods – breakaway hopeful number 4. He better make the move, otherwise EF Drapac will have to do a lot of work!
A fierce pace by Team Sky will stop the break from winning. Looking at how he performed today, I think this is a day for Miguel Angel Lopez. Behind him, the battle for pink will be fierce. I think Yates will not recover and Dumoulin will move into pink.
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2018 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved