By David Hunter
Eschenbach/Atzmanning – Arosa 171km
Last day in the mountains.
A stage where nothing happens until the final climb.
Yet again, the organisers have managed to find a rather strange climb. We have 27.7km at 4.1%, but the opening 7km is at 7.9%. The climb then becomes very easy for the next 16km, before ramping up in the final 4km. In that section we have kilometres at 10.6%, 10% and 9.2%, before an easy run to the line. As I said, it is a strange climb.
With the difficult section coming right at the foot of such a long climb, it is likely we’ll see little action. That means a lot of temp riding until the final 4km, not my idea of a good finish, but I could be wrong.
Another nice day for the bunch, the rain seems long gone. The wind is coming from the north, meaning a tailwind for much of the day.
As this is the big GC day, it should be one for the bunch. There is very little terrain for the break to get any sizeable advantage and it should be easily controlled by a full peloton.
Richie Porte – 3km at 10% sounds ideal for Richie. Cast your mind back to 2017, he firmly established himself as the best in the world on this type of incline. With Van Garderen to help deep into the climb, BMC should be able to hold the front group together until the final 4km. At that point, Porte will want to attack and lay a marker down for the Tour de France. After a dominant display today, he’ll want a stage win.
Simon Spilak – I’ve been impressed by him this week and he looks set to challenge for the overall. Spilak is no stranger to attacking early and putting pressure on his rivals. We all know that he loves riding in this country and it certainly gets the best out of him. Unlike all of his rivals, this is his peak moment of the year, the rest of the contenders are hoping to be at their best in 5 weeks time. That gives Spilak an advantage, but it won’t be easy to win this stage. He cannot wait for the 10% slopes as some of his rivals cope better than him on double digit gradients.
Wilco Kelderman – most people were sceptical about how he would last in this race, his first since crashing out of Tirreno. The Dutch climber has gone well and looks nice and fresh compared to some of his rivals. Going into this stage, he knows that if he wants to win the overall he’ll need some time on Porte, but that will be difficult. He has the fastest sprint of the GC riders, which should put him in pole position for the stage win. In Sam Oomen, he has the best of the domestiques, he should be around to help for the whole stage.
Ion Izagirre – given his ability on the TT bike, it looks like the Basque rider will be happy to follow wheels and ride defensively. He is good on steep slopes and I think he’ll fancy his chances of matching Porte, but I can’t see him dropping him on this climb. Izagirre does pack a good sprint and he’ll be happy if a small group of riders arrive together at the end of the stage.
Jakob Fuglsang – arrived after a good block of altitude training, but the opening TTT was a disaster for Astana. That virtually put him out of contention for the overall, something which should buy him a little freedom in this stage. 2018 has been a very good year for the Dane, it was great to see him winning a stage in Romandie. Another rider with a fast sprint, he’ll fancy his chances from a reduced group.
Movistar – the Spaniards have two strong cards to play. With Landa and Quintana they have two of the strongest climbers in the race, but they need to think carefully about their tactics. With the climb being so long, there is little point of attacking on the early slopes, even though they are steep. The long false flat section will be a nightmare for a solo rider, I think I’d be tempted to wait until the finale. That might not be a great use of their numerical advantage, but I don’t really see another option. The 3km at 10% suits both of their climbers and having two riders gives them a massive chance of success.
Enric Mas – I’m a big fan of the Spaniard. After a strong neo-pro year, he made a huge breakthrough in 2018 when he won the final stage in Itzulia. At just 23, he has a massive future ahead of him and he’ll hope to make a big mark in this stage. His TT skills aren’t as strong as some of his rivals, which could be enough to buy him a little freedom in the closing stages.
3km at 10% just before the finish, that sounds perfect for Richie Porte. The Aussie to take the win and a commanding lead in the fight for the yellow jersey.
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