By David Hunter
Barnsley – Bedale 134km
Another sprint stage, as long as the bunch don’t make a mess of it again!
A short stage awaits the bunch, only 134km. We have one categorised climb, but this stage has some significance for later in the year, as the peloton get to ride a lap of the world championship circuit. This won’t have any impact on the race, but it is something for the fans to watch too.
Today was a great example of what can happen in cycling. The break were never allowed a huge gap, but as only a couple of teams wanted to work in the peloton, things never came back together. This was a huge result for the attackers, but will history repeat itself? The presence of a headwind is bad news, but the other teams simply cannot wait for Ineos and Dimension Data to do all the work.
Should be dry, but not very warm. There is also a headwind for the whole stage, poor breakaway riders.
Another finish to negotiate. We start on a standard two-lane road, but from 3km to go this gets tighter, teams need to be on the front from here. Just before 2km to go, the road becomes only one car wide for a brief moment, poor positioning will mean your chance is over for the day. The difficulty isn’t over yet, the final kilometre is a nagging false flat; riders need to be patient before launching their sprint.
Mark Cavendish – it wasn’t to be today; he’ll hope for a better end to this stage. The dry conditions will favour the chasing bunch and Cav will hope to have Eisel and Renshaw left to help position him for the sprint. Can he roll back the years and take a win?
Chris Lawless – his team tried to bring it all back together, but it wasn’t to be. Lawless would have been incredibly frustrated as he doesn’t get many chances to shine. This is another opportunity, but Ineos won’t be bullied into working by the other teams.
Filippo Fortin – it was great to see him finishing 2nd today, I’ve been a big fan for years. The Italian has always been a fast sprinter, but spent a few years in the cycling wilderness, before Cofidis gave him a chance to shine. Signed predominately as a lead out man, this is a rare chance for him to chase personal glory. Given the level of the other contenders, he certainly has a chance of taking the win.
Dan McLay – was on lead out duties today, after competing in Frankfurt the previous day, but should be back as the main man for this stage. McLay has the speed to challenge, especially as Ethan Hayter should do a great job in positioning him.
Tom Stewart – British breakaway pick.
James Fouché – British (I know he’s a Kiwi) breakaway pick.
Nathan Van Hooydonck – tried on a number of occasions to get in today’s move; he should be up for trying again.
Dry conditions and a headwind should mean we get a sprint. I picked Chris Lawless for the opening stage and I think I’ll stick with him for this one.
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