By David Hunter
Selcuk – Izmir 166km
After the big GC day, we have a stage with a few possible outcomes.
The stage features two classified climbs and a lot of flat. Only the second of these climbs is important. The cat 2 effort is 11.9km at 4.4% and crests with 28.9km remaining. There are a few quick men who will fancy their chances of surviving the climb and taking the win from a reduced peloton.
The distance from the finish is not wonderful news for climbers looking to escape from the bunch. Diego Ulissi has a commanding lead and UAE are the strongest team here, it doesn’t look good for attackers. Not only that, but he also possesses the fastest sprint from the climbers, Ulissi has all the angles covered.
I get the impression that UAE will be happy to set a fast tempo on the climb, but they won’t be bothered about trying to drop riders, they will just be looking after their leader.
Another day with lots of sun, but with more wind. The strength is around 17mph and coming from the North, making it a headwind for the early part of the stage. Once they hit Manisa, it becomes more of a tail wind. We will have to see if any team wants to try and create echelons.
A very easy finish, with a big u-turn with 1.9km remaining. The bunch will be small, so positioning won’t be difficult.
A rolling finish, which a nice downhill run into the final 500m. This should be a fast sprint.
Sam Bennett – due to his three stage wins, I need to include Bennett in the contenders. Do I think he can survive the climb? No.
Edward Theuns – climbing better than ever. He’s been knocking on the door all week, but Bennett has been too fast for him. Eddy knows that if he can survive the climb, and Bennett doesn’t, he has a wonderful chance of taking the stage win. He finished 26th today, just 1:32 behind Ulissi, the signs are good.
Francesco Gavazzi – the veteran Italian was the best finisher of the fast men today, he was a brilliant 7th place. He is a very talented rider, one that loves a difficult day in the saddle. Tough days slow the sprint of many riders, it seems to make him go faster. He won’t be dropped, but needs Theuns and Bennett to lose ground on the climb.
Eduard Prades – another fast man that performed well today, finishing in 14th place. The flat sprint is bad news for him, the Spaniard prefers an uphill effort.
Jordi Simon – I do wonder why the Spaniard is riding with Funvic. He enjoyed a strong 2016, but ended up riding for the Brazilian outfit. He is a fairly unique rider, one that climbs very well, but also packs a fast sprint. It would be good to see him fighting for the podium.
Diego Ulissi – if all the quick men get dropped, Ulissi will take another stage.
Bennett to get dropped and Edward Theuns to take the win. Vamos Eddy!
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