By David Hunter
Girona – Girona 156.6km
The stage is dominated by Alt dels Angels. It’s 6km at 5.5% and has to be tackled twice. In between, the riders climb the cat 2 climb, Alt de Santa Pellaia, 5.9km at 4%. The final climb crests with just 13km remaining and the peloton has to deal with a rapid descent into town. This is very fast and very scary. There should be rain in the morning but the roads should be dry be the time the peloton descend them. If not, it ain’t going to be pretty.
The stage is perfect for a breakaway, with 5 categorised climbs and scary descents. However, the GC teams still need to get time back and want the 10 bonus seconds. We could see Movistar, Tinkoff and Sky limit the break and allow a grandstand finish. CCC will be quite happy if the break doesn’t threaten the GC. They worked hard today and would like a slightly easier day.
Breakaway options are De Gendt, Jarrier, Wyss, Cattaneo, Senni, Jones, Diaz, Howes, Koshevoy, Anacona, Parra, Chevrier, Mas Bonet, Latour and Roux.
The GC teams need to attack on the climb. Froome and Contador came into this race as the big guns but have been overshadowed. These boys don’t like being out of the spot light and they will attack on the climb. Both have strong teams. Contador can call on the support of Basso, Hernandez, Majka, Rogers and Kiserlovski. Whilst Froome has Lopez, Kiryienka, Porte, Roche, Konig and Poels. Make no mistake, they are here to party!
The big win on stage 1 means that this stage has more importance than previously thought. The climb isn’t quite long enough, or steep enough, to create big gaps but both Sky and Tinkoff will try. The first ascent is a long way from home but I think a very fast pace will be set. All GC riders will want to isolate Paterski, Rolland and De Clercq.
In normal circumstances, we should get a small sprint of around 20-30 riders. If that’s the case, Valverde, Kelderman, Uran and Hivert will be looking for the win. The descent does put that finish in doubt. It’s more than likely we’ll see a small group escape and fight out the victory.
CCC will struggle to control the race and it might be up to Lotto and Europcar to help out. Everything points to a crazy day in Spain.
The big teams will bring back the break and expect cracks on the first ascent of the cat 1 climb. Second time up we’ll see plenty of attacks but the key move will be on the descent and I’m leaning towards Sami Sanchez of BMC. He descends like a bomb and we’ll be allowed a little freedom.
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