By David Hunter
Cluses > Tignes 144.5km
We’ve had two consecutive full gas days, get ready for a third.
We have another short stage, this time it’s 145km, and the riders must cover 4262m of climbing. We might be lacking a proper tough climb at the finish, but this stage is going to be another crazy day.
Lots and lots of rain, which will only make this day even harder. Not only that but it’s going to cold, this is going to be another epic day.
Côte de Domancy is the first climb of the day; it comes after just 17km of racing. It’s short and very steep, perfect for the climbers who want to make the morning break.
Next up is the cat 1 ascent, Col des Saisies. This is quite a long climb, and the figures are a little distorted by two downhill sections. The middle part of the climb is very hard.
With lots of rain expected the descent is going to be a nightmare. The road surface isn’t great, and we have lots of twists and turns.
The Col de Pré is the hardest climb of the stage, it really is a monster. Shortly after comes Cormet de Roseland, but it’s straightforward.
The descent off the Roseland is long and very fast. This one is less technical as the road is relatively straight, but the wet roads will still mean it’s an important point in the race.
The finishing climb is 23km at 5.2%. The gradient suggests it’s not that hard but coming at the end of three crazy days you can guarantee this climb will be very selective. Remember, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s how the riders climb it, especially as we finish at over 2000m.
It’s not so much back to the drawing board for the teams, it’s time to find the white flag. Pogačar blew everyone away today, the next two weeks is all about other teams now looking to chase stages and fight for the podium. It’s never great for a race to be over before it begins, but that’s why we’ve got. Fingers crossed we still see good racing.
Expect something like today. Attacks will fly from the gun, with some looking to use the first climb as the launchpad to get into the break. These attacks will feature Colbrelli and Matthews as the first sprint comes after 32.5km, it’s another great chance to claw 20 points back on Cavendish. Due to this, the break might not from until the lower slopes of Col des Saisies.
A break forming on a cat 1 climb means we’ll see the best climbers come to the front, possibly even some who are perceived a threat on GC. After two very hard days there will be many tired legs, the peloton could be very small at the crest of this climb.
If the peloton is small, it’s great news for those who make the breakaway, if it doesn’t contain a GC threat. This stage contains a lot of climbing and a lot of descending, given the weather conditions you’ll have to be an excellent bike handler to win the stage. Those who were on the attack today are clearly strong, but will they start to feel tired? It’s also a big day for the KOM jersey, as we have our first HC climb of the race. This stage will involve the fight for polka dots, green and yellow (I live in hope!).
Given the race situation I think we’ll see the breakaway fight out the stage win and not much action in the yellow jersey group.
Wout Poels – breakaway hopeful number 1. Climbing very well.
Sepp Kuss – breakaway hopeful number 2. Jumbo-Visma spend a lot of time in Tignes.
Michael Woods – breakaway hopeful number 3. He’ll be gutted after today.
Julian Alaphilippe – breakaway hopeful number 4. Now has freedom to chase the break.
Ben O’Connor – breakaway hopeful number 5. Goes well in bad weather.
Bauke Mollema – breakaway hopeful number 6. Standard breakaway pick.
Miguel Ángel López – breakaway hopeful number 7. Movistar need something.
Richie Porte – breakaway hopeful number 8. Ineos need something.
Jakob Fuglsang – breakaway hopeful number 9. Quality climber.
Tadej Pogačar – just in case it comes back together, the stage will be his if he wants it.
There are so many amazing climbers who are free to chase the stage win. Factoring in the tricky weather conditions, I’ll take a win for Ben O’Connor. Back in the GC group whatever Tadej wants to happen will happen.
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