Tour of Britain 2021 – Stage 7 Preview
By David Hunter
Hawick > Edinburgh 195km
With 2536m of climbing, it’s not a flat stage, but it should be our first big sprint of the race. We have three categorised climbs, none of which are particularly tough. It’s hard to see the stage not ending in a sprint.
As Deceuninck – Quick Step will be keen on a sprint finish, it is likely to happen. They’ll also get help from DSM, Jumbo-Visma and ISUN. With four of the big teams wanting to chase the break, I doubt it will get much of a gap. The key will be to ensure the break is relatively small and doesn’t feature world tour riders. The start is uphill, managing the break won’t be easy.
Grey, but it should stay dry. The wind will be stronger than it’s been this week, at around 20km/h, but I don’t expect echelons. The final 70km is mainly headwind.
With 6km to go we have a very fast descent, which takes us down into the finale. We have a few corners as the bunch head towards the Royal Commonwealth Pool, known locally as The Commie, they go past it with 2.5km to go and head towards Holyrood Park.
The entrance to the park comes with 2km to go and the road gets very narrow. At this point we have two corners in quick succession, before a very fast downhill section. With 1km to go we have a roundabout, the left-hand side is likely to be closed, so the peloton can fly through the right. Just 200m later we have another roundabout and I think the organisers will again barrier the left-hand side. Going through the right means the riders don’t have to brake but will mean the bunch will be funnelled into single file.
Here’s the local advice. You want to be at the front of the bunch as they head into the park with 2km to go. If your sprinter is a good climber, you can move up on the little uphill section which starts with 3km to go. The team who has control with 2km to go will not be overtaken, they will boss the finish. The sprint finish will be very fast, the peloton will carry a lot of speed from the downhill that starts with 2km to go.
Mark Cavendish – he has the best lead out, but he could carry a little fatigue in his legs after today’s exploits. Deceuninck will likely be the team who control the final 5km, they have a full team to do this. If they get the lead out spot on, Cavendish will be confident of taking the win.
Wout Van Aert – he might not have much of a lead out, but Pascal Eenkhoorn will be able to get him on a good wheel for the final 2km. Van Aert will be happy if he gets on Cav’s wheel, he knows that he has the power to beat him in a sprint finish.
Ethan Hayter – won the sprint stage on Thursday, but he was helped by the crash. Ineos don’t have a classic sprint train, but they have riders with lots of power. They’ll fight Deceuninck for control of the bunch in the closing stages, with Doull being the last man for Hayter. Winning another stage will be hard, but he’ll be hoping to finish on the podium and hold onto the race lead.
Andre Greipel – the technical nature of the final 3km isn’t to his liking.
Dan McLay – third place on Thursday will have given him a confidence boost. Arkéa only have four men left in the race, McLay won’t have much help in the closing stages.
DSM – Eekhoff crashed hard on Thursday and damaged his ribs, the team will now turn to Max Kanter. The German is fast, but he rarely challenges for the win.
Breakaway – as long as Deceuninck are keen on working for a sprint, it will happen. I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t chase for Cavendish.
Given the strength of the teams, this should be Cavendish v Hayter v Van Aert. I think Cavendish will launch from the front, but Wout Van Aert will have the power to come off his wheel and take the win.
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