By David Hunter
Schaffhausen – Schaffhausen 100km
After two days for the mountain men, the rest of the peloton get one final chance to take a win.
The stage is only 100km long, but has all the makings of being a beauty! The riders cover 8 laps of the circuit, featuring the climb to Herblingen. The climb is 1.6km at 4.2%, but we also have short climbs just before and after it. This is a circuit made for attacking!
After dodging rain for a few days, the riders are faced with a much nicer day in the saddle.
This is a tough day for any team to control. We are blessed with riders like Van Avermaet, Gilbert, Sagan, Wellens, Vanmarcke, Betancur, Albasini and Boom. These guys are some of the best in the world and will not be able to help themselves. This will make it hard for a team to create a sprint.
Wanting the race to end in a sprint is Degenkolb and Matthews. Both Trek and Sunweb will find it very hard to do this on their own, they will need help from Bora. Problem is, Sagan might just fancy winning from a break.
Flat and easy. We have two corners inside the final kilometre, but I doubt the bunch will be big.
Greg Van Avermaet – we haven’t seen much of Van Avermaet, this week. After winning the Tour of Luxembourg, I had been expecting a stronger showing. This is his last chance to impress and I doubt he’ll let us down. Given his fast sprint, he knows he can beat most in a gallop. His problem, one he’s used to, is getting rid of Sagan. BMC will want to see Sagan isolated, before Van Avermaet launches his attack.
Peter Sagan – this is a wonderful stage for the world champion. His win in Cevio, was his 14th in this race. This looks like a great chance to take number 15. Bora have done well this week, he certainly hasn’t been lacking support. Riders like McCarthy and Barta have stepped up, just when they have been needed. Expect to see Sagan go toe-to-toe against GVA and Gilbert.
Philippe Gilbert – already won a stage this week, but the Belgian champion would love another. It’s been quite the season for Gilbert, he looks back to his very best. Expect to see QuickStep ride their usual race, putting lots of teams into difficulty. Gilbert will certainly attack, it’s just a question of when. Waiting until the final lap is a risky strategy, I hope to see Gilbert go for a long one.
Tim Wellens – keeps knocking on the door. It’s not been a great race for Lotto, much like their 2017 season. Wellens is their big hope, their only real chance of success. As we all know, he loves to attack, but sometimes from too far out. Racing against riders with a faster sprint, makes life difficult, but I think he enjoys the challenge. Expect to see plenty of fireworks from Wellens.
Carlos Betancur – this is a good stage for Betancur, but he could do with the climb being harder. He started the race off in good shape and that condition should have improved over the week. He will certainly try to get away, we will have to wait and see if he is successful.
Michael Albasini – will not hang about for a sprint. He has been riding at a consistent level this week, without ever really threatening to take a win. Orica don’t really have the team to make the race difficult, Albasini will have to use another team to do the work for him. Despite his success on home soil, it’s been 5 years since he won a stage in this race.
Michael Matthews – took a brilliant win in Bern, that would have been brilliant for his confidence. Without Dumoulin, his team will struggle to dictate the race. With a win already in the bank, it’s time for Matthews to ride an attacking race. He has spoken about this in the past, I hope we start to see it. A fantastic climber, it would be great to see him putting his rivals on the back foot.
Sagan v Van Avermaet v Gilbert. Sit back and watch in awe! I’ll go for Greg Van Avermaet, he can’t let the others win a stage and not him.
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