By David Hunter
Tarancón > Albacete 184km
A standard sprint stage.
This is one of the stages the GC riders would have feared as we have lots of wide-open roads, but they’ll be happy when they check the weather.
Roasting hot, temperatures will again go over 30 degrees. The wind is relatively weak and will be a headwind for much of the day. No echelons, just a boring old sprint stage.
Pretty easy as grand tours go by. There is a big turn at a roundabout with 2.3km to go, followed by another roundabout with 1.5km. This one is a wide roundabout and the bunch go straight on, those at the front will be able to take it faster than the rest. The final turn comes with 900 to go, this will be taken at pace.
Just a few roundabouts to deal with and some nice roads, this is a nice finish for the sprinters. We’ve seen in the two sprints so far that we don’t have a dominant sprint train. Deceuninck – Quick Step, Groupama – FDJ and Alpecin–Fenix are equally matched, it’s very hard to split them. Who does the best lead out will come down to those split-second decisions in the final kilometres.
Fabio Jakobsen – his win today was hugely impressive, when he kicked he had so much power. His lead out was good, but his final bit of good positioning was his own decision to jump past his lead out man and onto Démare’s wheel just as the road started to bend. This was the perfect move as when the road opened, he was in the best possible position. Going in his favour is that his team can commit the full squad to supporting him in the closing kilometres, they don’t have a GC man to protect, and even their climbers have the power to help in the final 10km. He’ll approach this stage full of confidence and must start as the favourite.
Arnaud Démare – I told you not to make too much of his result in the second stage. Today his team nailed it, the problem was that Guarnieri finished just a little too soon, which forced Démare into launching quite a long sprint considering the gradient. Nobody was at fault; it was just one of those things. Démare will approach this stage with confidence, he knows he has the speed to win.
Jasper Philipsen – Alpecin-Fenix decided to hit the front early today, but they ran out of men, and this ultimately led to Philipsen getting boxed in. Their problem is that they have less men for the lead out compared to DQT and FDJ, they’ve arrived here with two skinny climbers, they don’t have a full team to support their sprinter. This means they will have to ride their luck a little in the finishes, but their sprint train is still a good one. Philipsen showed in the opening stage that he does have the speed to win, he just needs to launch from a good position.
Juan Molano – UAE made a big mistake today, they decided to go with Trentin and not Molano. I can only think that they looked at the road book and not my preview. Well, they got what they deserved! The team did a great job in delivering Molano into a perfect spot for the opening sprint, but he didn’t have the power to take the win. This is another good chance for him, I wouldn’t write him off.
The confidence is high, he has a full team to support him, I think we’ll see another win for Fabio Jakobsen.
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