By David Hunter
Calatayud – Tarazona 177km
The road south represents a great chance for the opportunists in the bunch.
The profile of the stage will discourage any sprinter teams from wanting to work. The climbs are:-
8.4km at 3.6%.
9.2km at 5.2%.
13.9k at 2.6%.
Not the hardest climbs in the race, but enough to stop anyone from working. All teams will want representation in the break and the initial fight will be fierce. The GC riders get another easy day, with the cat 1 climb appearing too early to make any difference. In fact, the cat 1 climb is really quite early on in the race. I don’t see many riders getting dropped by the peloton, but by that point, a tasty break will be far up the road.
The end of the stage isn’t flat either, with around 1.3km at 6%, leading into the final kilometre. By that point, they stage might already be decided!
Quite a few riders have already displayed an interest in getting into breaks. There are more chances of breakaway success, especially in the next few stages. Those stages involve high mountains, so this stage is one for the non-climbing specialists. We have quite a few!
Adam Hansen – The loveable Aussie is looking in tremendous form. So far he’s been very unlucky, nearly winning in Murcia and getting marked by Dumoulin in Castellon. He’s determined to take the record in style and expect to see him in an aggressive mood.
Niki Terpstra – Has been very aggressive so far. He’s not got close to a win yet but certainly has good form. Such a dangerous rider, he’s capable of going solo from distance, thanks to his TT skills.
Geraint Thomas – With Froome away home and Nieve capable of looking after himself, the Welshman will get some freedom. He has a fast finish, from a small bunch. If in the break, he would be a big threat. Appeared in the break on the stage to Cumbre del Sol.
Jose Goncalves – One of the riders of the race, so far. He can do the lot. We’ve seen him climbing with the best and sprinting against the sprinters! His teammate, Fraile, will be in the break to hoover up the mountain points, but he should be free to go for the stage. Has already been in a number of breaks.
Alessandro De Marchi – Slowly refinding his feet after a long lay off. This is his type of stage. His lack of form is a worry.
Sylvain Chavanel – The IAM captain looks set for Europcar, or whatever they will be called in 2016. Has had time to recover from his crash and he’s another rider that will love the lack of big climbs in this stage.
Mattia Cattaneo – The former winner of the Baby Giro is eventually finding his feet. He would like some more climbs and Lampre are spoiled for breakaway options.
Davide Villella – I’m still waiting for his first big result. The Italian is hugely talented and a rider who can sense a good break. He will develop into one of the stars of cycling. This stage could be his breakthrough.
Rinaldo Nocentini – At the other end of his career, compared to Villella. He can climb and sprint, so would be an excellent option for AG2R. One last win for the 37 year old?
Miguel Angel Rubiano – He might have been in today’s break, but he’s still capable of going again. Looks the best option from the Colombia squad.
Johann Van Zyl – Still can’t believe he hasn’t been in a break yet! Get the finger out Johann.
Cameron Meyer – Another breakaway expert. Orica have many options but I would give Meyer the nod. He can climb, sprint and TT. The perfect mix for a breakaway rider.
Jerome Cousin – So strong climbing to La Alpujarra, but so unlucky. He’s a rider that seems to be fighting for his future, that makes him very dangerous.
Timo Roosen – It might be his first Grand Tour, but I’ve been impressed by this young man. If he makes the break, he’ll be underestimated by the others. That would be a huge mistake!
Pawel Poljanski – Majka’s main help in the mountains, he might be given a little slack to chase his own stage win. A very dangerous rider, remember how good he was during the Queen stage, in the Tour of Poland.
Javier Moreno – Might just get the nod from Movistar. They need helpers for Valverde and Quintana, but will try to get someone in the break.
LL Sanchez – Always a danger!
The only danger for the break, is a rider like Gianluca Brambilla. Currently 13th on GC, 6:42 down. He’s not a threat to Fabio Aru but for the riders lower down on GC. At this stage of the race, riders will look to protect their GC place. Brambilla might just sense a chance to move into the top 10 and buy himself some drifting room. He’s been very attacking, so far, and I would expect to see him give it a go. MTN and Louis Meintjes will be the most concerned.
The weather forecast is okay, but there is a small threat of a thunderstorm.
Has to be a day for the break. Even if the morning break is caught, a late break has a tremendous chance. I’ll remain faithful to Adam Hansen!
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