By David Hunter
Le Broc > Valdeblore 119km
The organisers had to change the start of this stage due to COVID regulations currently in the south of France, but we still get to finish at the top of Colmiane.
The stage is now 119km, but it does feature three cat 2 climbs in the opening 50km, and crucially one of those is from the gun.
7km at 4.8% is a great way to start the stage if you’re a climber who wants to make the break. If the right move gets away on this climb they’ll be fighting out the stage win.
The Colmiane is 16km at 6.1%, which isn’t the hardest mountain in the world. We’ve seen in previous years that some puncheurs have been able to hang tough and post a good result, but the stage is still going to be won by a climber. This is a climb where sitting in the wheels can give you a significant advantage, riders looking to attack really need to wait until the domestiques are all gone.
Nice and sunny with a light cross/tailwind for the big climb.
Break v GC group. Short stages can be hard for breakaways to establish a big lead, but it also means they don’t need as large a gap as usual for the final climb. A strong break can win this stage, but that depends on who wants to chase. Jumbo-Visma will have no intention of doing so, I think chasing the break will be up to Astana, as the other main contenders like Benoot and Schachmann aren’t the big favourites for a mountaintop finish.
When we get to the mountain, Jumbo-Visma have the climbers required to control any attacks from GC contenders, but in reality Roglič already has a huge gap to his nearest rival, he’s not going to be too worried about this stage. The Slovenian will let his team shut down the attacks and then he’ll attack in the closing stages. Given the way he rode away from the bunch on Wednesday, he will be very hard to beat if the race is all together with 2km to go.
DS Cycling Mole
I’ll be taking over at Team Jumbo-Visma for this one.
Right boys round you come. This is the day we cement Primož’s yellow jersey. At the start we just need to make sure no one from the top 10 makes the break. Once it gets away we get on the front, but we don’t chase the break, just keep it a solid tempo. Tony the Tiger is away home, that means big Jose Van Emden has to ride on the front by himself. Jose, we don’t need to catch the break, that’s up to the other teams. The rest of you just sit back and remember to eat and drink. Once on the climb we have Lenny, Sammy, the Kiwi Kid and Square Shoulder Stevie to control things. Boys, we are miles stronger than anyone else. Get the mountain train going, but nothing too hard. Keep one eye on that Russian kid, he’s bound to try something, but I don’t want Primož putting as much as one hair in the wind until 2km to go. Prima Donna, with 2km to go, hit the turbo button! Game over.
Primož Roglič – his stage win today was a very powerful example of what he can do. As this finish suits him even better the rest of the contenders will already be resigned to the inevitable. His team are strong enough to last until the very end of this climb, allowing Roglič to simply sit in the bunch and save as much energy as possible. Beating him is going to be almost impossible.
Aleksandr Vlasov – the Astana rider has started the season in good form. He was very unlucky today, he had a mechanical very close to the finish, had to swap bikes with a teammate, but managed to finish with the GC group. He’s now in the white jersey and sits just 10 seconds behind Schachmann in second place. I think he’ll go all out to try and move up the rankings, but winning will be hard as Roglič will be watching him.
David Gaudu – he did remarkably well on Wednesday considering the energy he used having to chase back on to the bunch. Regular readers will know that I’m a massive fan of the Frenchman, and as he sits over a minute down on GC he might even find Roglič in a generous mood!
Guillaume Martin – another who impressed on Wednesday, finishing in 3rd place. Just like Gaudu he sits quite far down on GC, so he’s not a real threat to Roglič. If he gets a little bit of freedom he has the ability to finish the job off and take what would be his first world tour win.
Ben O’Connor – he’s started the season well for AG2R and he’ll only get stronger as the season goes on. Remember that his winter was interrupted by a broken collarbone, the more he races the better he’ll get. This is a good finish for the Aussie, he should be up there challenging for the win.
Jai Hindley – it all depends on team tactics. DSM have Benoot in 7th place on GC, will they use Hindley to make the pace hard? Or will he be given a chance to chase personal glory? His performance in the Giro was amazing, I get the feeling he’d like to prove to everyone it wasn’t a lucky ride!
Thomas De Gendt – breakaway option number 1.
Gregor Mühlberger – breakaway option number 2.
Alexey Lutsenko – breakaway option number 3.
Rohan Dennis – breakaway option number 4.
There should be enough teams willing to chase down the morning break to set up a GC showdown. Will anyone be given a free pass by Jumbo-Visma? No, it’s another win for Primož Roglič.
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