By David Hunter
Gansingen – Gstaad 189km
I’ve not seen a profile like this for a while.
A day of nothing, but it does have a cat 2 climb which crests with just 8km remaining. Despite having a rather easy look to it, the stage does include 2457m of climbing, but the main focus is the final climb.
7.2km at 4.6% doesn’t sound too hard to me, but the peloton will sprint up it. The last 2km of the climb is at 4.9% and 3.2%, which really means if the riders get to this point, they’ll hang on over the top. Is it really going to be too hard for some of the sprinters?
One thing to note is that some of the climb is on a very narrow road, making it possible for a rider to attack and his team to block the road. Positioning will be very important on this hill.
The descent off the climb is just a straight road, but things do get a little technical inside the final 4km. We have to tackle a tunnel and three tight corners inside the final 2.2km. Not an ideal finish, at least the bunch will be slimmed down.
Similar to today, it looks like another wet day for the peloton.
It will be interesting to see if any of the GC riders fancy attacking on the climb. It is highly unlikely they’ll get away, but you just never know. With an easy looking route, the riders will be keen to take any chance that presents itself.
On the climb, it will be up to Bora, Sunweb and BMC to control. The climb should be easy enough for Stefan Küng to stay in yellow, so BMC will take control. Bora will be happy to set a pace that drops most of the sprinters, something that Sunweb will also be keen to do.
The problem could be the final 8km, especially as teams won’t have numbers to chase down attacks. The finish does offer a late attacker a good chance of taking the spoils, but it really depends on the numbers in the bunch.
Peter Sagan – he maybe didn’t win today, but I loved seeing him attack on the climb and gap Tim Wellens. When Sagan’s in this mood, he’s a joy to watch. Given his current shape, there is no way he’s getting dropped on the climb. Looking at his team, he should have Patrick Konrad and Gregor Mühlberger available to help control the final kilometres and he’ll not be wasting any energy before the sprint.
Michael Matthews – still looks off the pace in the sprints. The Aussie is climbing well, but he seems to have lost quite a lot of his top end speed. Sunweb have the most to gain by making the climb difficult, but dropping Sagan will be hard. If they can eliminate enough sprinters, it should mean a spot on the podium for Matthews.
Michael Albasini – waited for the sprint today and finished 4th, a solid effort from the Swiss rider. Like the other sprinters mentioned, this should be a climb that Albasini survives and he would like it as tough as possible. It will be interesting to see if he tries to attack on the descent, I just can’t see him winning the sprint against Sagan and co.
Greg Van Avermaet – I’m still waiting for him to light it up! I hope that this is the stage where we see him attacking and on the climb would be the ideal point to do so.
Jasper Stuyven – I’ve been impressed by him in the opening stages, he seems to have very good form. Stuyven is a great mix of speed and power, but he should still be able to get over the climb. As John Degenkolb looks way off the pace, it seems that Trek will throw all their resources behind Stuyven.
Diego Ulissi – Giro legs!
José Gonçalves – more Giro legs!
With Sunweb and Bora keen on holding this together, we should get another reduced sprint. In that scenario, it has to be a win for Peter Sagan.
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