By David Hunter
Brignoles > Briot 202.5km
Too hard for the sprinters, not hard enough for the GC men.
A day for the breakaway artists, and we have plenty at this race.
We have 50km of relatively flat roads to start the stage, then it’s the first climb of the day.
2.3km at 7.7%, but with plenty of red! Some riders will hope the break establishes here, others will hope it goes on the flat.
The next climb on the menu is the Côte de Cabris. 8km at 5.5% isn’t the hardest cat 1 climb in the world, but the opening 2km is closer to 9% and it will immediately start to hurt the sprinters.
We have around 2km of a rest before the cat 2 climb Col du Ferrier starts. This one is 5km at 6.4%, in parts it’s much harder than the cat 1 climb than precedes it. Neither climb is ridiculously hard, but the small gap in between is why it’s too hard for the fast men, I don’t see any of them even thinking they’ll survive.
The final 1.4km at 6.2% is the final nail in the coffin for the quick men. Even if some sprinters do back themselves to survive, do they think they can win this uphill sprint? Only Michael Matthews can be confident about surviving this day, but it’s a very tough stage for Team BikeExchange to control.
Nice temperatures and the wind is up compared to the rest of the stages. We are talking around 20km/h, but the majority of the day is spent well protected by trees so the wind won’t have an impact.
Who wants to chase the break? Of all the fast men only Michael Matthews will be confident of surviving a day like this. This means the fight for the break will be fierce, and if a strong break gets established it will be impossible for one team to chase them down. BikeExchange will be hoping that either a small break gets away, or a rider high on GC is in it. Both of these things are unlikely, this looks like a brilliant day for the attackers.
DS Cycling Mole
Here’s my advice to all riders, stock up on the caffeine gels and follow Thomas De Gendt.
Contenders (The Usual Breakaway Suspects)
Thomas De Gendt – not really be seen much this season, but this stage is brilliant for him. The flat start means he can use his big engine to ensure the break doesn’t have many climbers, then he can use the hills to put the hurt on. The finish isn’t perfect for him, especially if some faster riders make the move, but he’ll deal with that if the situation arises.
Magnus Cort – he ticks many boxes for this one. He can use his power to make the break, he can climb well enough to cope with the middle section of the race, and he can sprint well at the end.
Matteo Trentin – see above, these two are breakaway old timers.
Alexey Lutsenko – almost won from a break in the UAE Tour, he might fancy another crack at it.
Nils Politt – he’ll like a day in the break to help prepare for the classics.
Felix Großschartner – surprisingly dropped a lot of time on Wednesday, maybe he has one eye on this stage.
Gregor Mühlberger – a mechanical on Monday ended any hopes of challenging for GC. To be honest, I see him as a brilliant breakaway rider, not a GC man. He would like a harder finish, but it all depends on who else makes the move.
Omar Fraile – standard breakaway pick.
Michael Matthews – if the break doesn’t win, he will.
I’ll go for Matteo Trentin, given the uphill finish the winner is going to need a fast finish.
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