By David Hunter
Al Zubara Fort – Madinat ash-Shamal 153km
Wind alert! We have wind coming from the South East, as the riders turn right and head towards the finishing town we get a direct crosswind. Predictions about the strength of the wind vary but it should be enough to create echelons. The wind is meant to be less for the final stage, so this will be the last chance to put the hurt on.
Trek, BMC, Tinkoff and Sky all have something to gain. Expect them to try and put Etixx under pressure, but the Belgians are so strong, it’s going to be hard for the other teams.
Bonus seconds and today’s 5 second split means the GC is very tight. Bodnar is just 6 seconds behind Terpstra and Kristoff is only 21 seconds back. With two potential sprints, Kristoff is looking a serious threat. Katusha did a good job today and the Norwegian looks dominant. If he wins this stage, the final stage will be very interesting. Katusha will certainly like him to take an intermediate sprint too.
Once the riders arrive in town, they have 2 laps of a circuit to complete. The race ends with a tight, right-hand turn and this will interest a few riders. Sacha Modolo got interested in today’s sprint and this finish is perfect for him, he loves a messy sprint. On the down side, his lead-out man, Max Richeze, is still struggling to find form/fitness.
After a disappointing couple of days, Giant turned to Nikias Arndt. The young German didn’t let them down and battled to third place. The lead-out was excellent but you can’t help but thinking, Kittel would have won from the same position.
The stage is relatively short and with all the teams aware of the crosswind section, the battle for position going into the turn will be fierce. If the wind is strong enough, that section of road will be very, very difficult. Gutter time!
Etixx are too strong to let the lead slip away. With Kristoff a threat, due to bonus seconds, I hope they ride an aggressive race and try to eliminate him. The main benefactor of this will be Peter Sagan. He was 4th on stages 1 and 2 and 2nd today. The form is improving and if Kristoff isn’t there, he has to be a big favourite. Even if Kristoff is there, Sagan will love the last corner. There isn’t many better at holding position than Sagan.
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