By David Hunter
Stonehaven > Aberdeen 173 km
Just 2000m of climbing, with around 600m of it coming in the first 40km of the stage. Normally a stage with 2000m of climbing would end in a sprint, we’ll have to see what impact the early cat 1 climb will have on proceedings.
Another grey day.
This is the hardest climb in the race, 3.3km at 9.9%. This is a brut of a climb, I can’t wait to see how the bunch decide to ride it.
Nice and easy. The finishing straight is almost 2km in length, timing the move to the front is very important.
Someone will hit the climb hard, I’m not sure who, but someone has to. The problem is the 136km that comes after. Does anyone have the will to push the pace on the climb and continue to ride all day? That will be very difficult for teams of just six men. It’s likely we’ll see a group of strong climbers attack on the climb and take their chances. The GC is delicately balanced, anything can still happen. Ineos and Deceuninck – Quick Step have an advantage due to the size of their squads, Wout Van Aert only has three teammates left. It’s likely we’ll see these two teams attack on the climb and try to isolate Van Aert, it seems an obvious thing to do.
As Deceuninck – Quick Step have two riders still high on GC, they will look to try something special in this stage. If they can get Alaphilippe and Honoré into a small group, they’ll be able to isolate Van Aert, but the problem will be Ineos. The British team are determined to win this race, but it’s not going to be easy. They have Rohan Dennis as a strong second option, but he’s currently trailing Honoré on GC. Hayter is clearly their best option, but it won’t be easy for him to win the GC, as Van Aert is faster than him. I’m really looking forward to watching how this stage unfolds, it should be a cracker.
Wout Van Aert – he knows that he’ll come under pressure in this stage, purely down to the lack of teammates he has. He’ll need a big ride from the three guys who are left to support him, I don’t see any of them dropping too much time on the climb. Wout will need riders in the front group to help close down moves, as Deceuninck and Ineos both have a couple of options for GC. He’s shown throughout this race his current level is very high, can he finish it off with another stage win and the overall title?
Deceuninck – Quick Step – they have Alaphilippe and Honoré as attacking options, both will like the look of this stage. Depending on how the race develops, it could also come back for a sprint finish. Cavendish will suffer up the climb, but given how long is left in the stage it could come back together. The team have the bases covered and will expect to walk away with the stage win.
Ineos – Hayter and Dennis look their best shots in this stage. We’ll have to see how big the front group is in the closing stages, but I would use Dennis as an attacking option, forcing other teams into using up energy closing him down. Hayter can sit back, saving his energy for a big effort in the sprint. It will be hard to beat Van Aert, but not impossible.
This could be a crazy stage. I think a strong group will get away on the climb, but it won’t stay away. I would expect the day to end in a reduced sprint and Wout Van Aert will take the stage and GC.
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