By David Hunter
Paterna – Valencia 135km
The race ends with a sprint stage in Valencia.
The climb to Oronet does offer a chance for the attackers, but they still have to negotiate the final 35km, making it hard for them to stay away. Also, the climb is only 4.8km at 5%, making it hard to make big differences and put sprinters into difficulty. This should end in a sprint, but the distance of the stage means we’ll have lots of riders fresh to attack in the final 5km.
The finish seems different to the one used in recent editions of this race. The long straight is terrible news for any attackers, as they can be seen by the chasing peloton. With three tight corners in the final kilometre, a good lead out train is hugely important. We’ve already seem that Lotto Jumbo have a great train, with plenty of power.
Light rain. Not a great way to finish the race, but it shouldn’t cause too many problems.
Danny Van Poppel – took a hugely impressive win on Wednesday, I heard his scream in Scotland! Jumbo have a seriously good sprint train, especially Gijs Van Hoecke. Word on the street is that the Belgian has made a massive improvement over the winter and is going to have a big season. With the likes of Powless and Roglic to deter late attacks, Van Poppel will have a big chance of taking a second win.
Sacha Modolo – the big crash took him out of the opening sprint. With no lasting damage, he should be sprinting in this stage. EF Drapac also have a strong train, especially with Dan McLay on lead out duties, but I get the feeling they are yet to gel. The problem is one of language, as Modolo has struggled a little to settle with his new teammates.
Luca Mezgec – his lead out experience helped him to position himself brilliantly on Wednesday. It looked like Van Poppel had gone a little long, but Mezgec did not have the power to pass him. Clearly, he isn’t on top form yet. Despite this, his brilliant positioning will put him in with a chance of taking this stage.
Jurgen Roelandts – could sneak another 3rd place, but he seems to have lost some of his jump speed.
Sondre Holst Enger – it’s great to be able to include him in the contenders section after a tough 2017. He picked up a 2nd place in Mallorca, a sign of good early form. He is a rider that does have the speed to contend for the win.
Michael Kwiatkowski – late attacker number 1. He nearly pulled this off in 2017.
Jasha Sütterlin – late attacker number 2. Movistar have no sprinter, why not give it a bash?
Another win for Danny Van Poppel, he is the fastest sprinter and has the best sprint train.
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