By David Hunter
Zakopane – Kraków 188km
It seems a shame to end the race with a sprint.
The stage does start with a couple of climbs. The unclassified climb is 3.7km at 6.4%, which is quickly followed by the cat 2 climb which is 3km at 4.5%. This is good news for climbers wanting to get in the morning break and does give hope to the attacks. Don’t get too excited when you see a cat 1 climb, it’s only 3.8km at 5.5%, the organisers are having a laugh giving it cat 1 status. The hardest climb of the day is the final classified one, which is 2.2km at 9.2%. This crests with over 100km still to go, which is plenty time for the bunch to organise a chase and set up a sprint, but it’s not a guarantee.
Not another lap circuit? This one is fairly standard, with nice roads and fast corners.
Sunny and hot.
Trek Segafredo – their win on Thursday was poetry in motion. The lead out train of Kirsch, Theuns, Stuyven and Pedersen was reminiscent of Sieberg, Roelandts, Henderson and Greipel, the legendary Lotto Soudal train. Will they stick with it or revert to Theuns being the sprinter? Will Stuyven get a chance to sprint? It will be interesting to see what the team decide to do, but after taking a win it would be a brave decision to not choose Pedersen. If they nail the lead out, they have a big chance of another win.
Pascal Ackermann – no stage win yet; this is his last chance. His lead out train didn’t fire on Thursday, I think the fault lay with all of them. Inside the final 400m there was no need for Schwarzmann to be sitting behind Pedersen, in fact I think that is exactly where Ackermann should have been. This sprint train don’t often make mistakes, they’ll be motivated to put things right in this stage.
Jasper Philipsen – not a bad sprint train, and he should be feeling better after crashing hard on Wednesday. If he starts in a good position he has the speed required to win the stage, but getting that position won’t be easy.
Davide Ballerini – finished well on Thursday, taking third place. QuickStep obviously are missing their main man, but the Italian does have a fast finish and can be competing for the win.
Rudy Barbier – the French quicky finished very fast on Thursday, but his position was poor. His sprint train does look weak, there’s no chance of him winning starting from deep.
Thomas De Gendt – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Maciej Paterski – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Taco Van Der Hoorn – breakaway hopeful number 3.
The sprint teams need to make sure De Gendt doesn’t make the break, but as the start of the stage has some hills it won’t be easy. There should be enough teams interested in the sprint to ensure the break doesn’t make it and I think Pascal Ackermann will take home the win.
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