By David Hunter
Greipel got his stage win today, after a perfect lead-out from Lotto. The German got a textbook win, thanks to a dominant display from him and his team. Also getting things right were Demare and FDJ. Lead-out man, Delage, eventually did a good job. Both Greipel and Demare will be confident for this stage.
With 3 cat 3 climbs, expect to see Hivert in the break. He says he wants to keep his KOM jersey, so he needs to attack today. Like stages 1 and 2, we should get a sprint. This stage is all about the finish.
The final 500m rises at around 3%. This is not steep but will make the sprint a challenge. Today’s finish was on a false flat and Kristoff ran out of legs, it doesn’t look good for this stage.
Orica seem to be improving and a 4th place finish for Michael Matthews is encouraging. This is a good stage for Bling but he would rather the finish was 6% not 3%. He’ll find it hard to win but should podium.
The finish also brings riders like Ben Swift into the picture. Swifty is much better in challenging finishes and if Geraint Thomas can give him a good lead-out, the Englishman will fancy his chances.
That being said the stage should be about Degenkolb, Kristoff, Greipel, Demare and Matthews.
This is the lap circuit the riders cover at the end of the stage. They have to tackle a tight, right hander around 1km to go. The fight for position will be fierce. Lotto have strength in numbers and got the train spot on today. Full of confidence, expect a repeat performance from the boys in red. Can anyone stop them?
One team who will try is Etixx. Michal Kwaitkowski will want to keep out of trouble and he knows where he needs to be. The uphill finish isn’t steep enough for him but without Boonen, he’ll give the sprint a go.
FDJ don’t have a long train but if Delage can perform as well as he did today, Demare has a great chance. His rival, Bouhanni, had a poor day today. His tactic was to stay on the wheel of Kristoff, little did he know the norwegian was going to have a poor day! The finish should suit Kristoff but I’m concerned with his lag of legs today.
The uphill sprint should also suit JJ Rojas. The Spaniard has finished the opening stages well, in 6th and 5th positions. This is a better stage for him and he could surprise a few.
My confidence in FDJ and Arnaud Demare has been restored. The finish is perfect or him and this is the day for him.
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