By David Hunter
At last, a real sprint stage!
After the rest day, the peloton get back into action with one of the easiest stages in the race. We are slowly edging up Spain and this race takes place very close to the Portuguese border. I wonder if that will tempt some of the locals into the break?
You can see we have one categorised climb, which does continue on for a few kilometres, after the KOM point. This climb isn’t hard enough to stop any of the sprinters, it’s only 5.4km at 4.5%, we are due to get a full sprint.
Another sunny day for the peloton.
Without any corners, this could be a messy sprint. We are likely to see a number of teams mistime their move to the front, meaning we will see different teams take control and quickly get swamped. This is a finish where experience is very important, as is patience. Inside the final kilometre we do have a gentle bend to the right and then another just before the line. It could be difficult picking the best line.
Elia Viviani – despite already having a stage win, I sense that the Italian will have been frustrated with the opening week. He passed up a couple of opportunities, on both occasions he was poorly positioned in the closing kilometres. I think we’ll see QuickStep back to their best in this finish, as Morkov is brilliant at timing his move to perfection. We know that Viviani is the fastest sprinter in the race, but he needs to be better positioned in the closing kilometres.
Peter Sagan – it seems that Sagan is slowly getting back to his best. He was a little unlucky to lose to Valverde on Saturday, but he will have gained confidence from it. It is still very hard to predict how he’ll perform in a flat sprint, especially as his lead out isn’t the best. On stage 6, Sagan seemed happy to try and follow the wheel of Viviani, typical it was the day that Viviani was poorly positioned! I think the world champion knows his best chance is to come from behind the Italian, benefiting from his slip stream.
Nacer Bouhanni – given his sprint train, I thought he had no chance of winning a stage in this race. His train actually stepped up to the mark and performed better than their more illustrious rivals, something that is always nice to see. With the boost in confidence, I think we’ll see them challenging in the final kilometres, but they are one of the teams who could mistime their move, as they do lack experience.
Danny van Poppel – the Dutchman is knocking on the door. His team have done a great job of positioning him and he seems to be sprinting well. Already with a second and third place, he’ll be confident of eventually taking the win. Jumbo might not have the longest sprint train, but as they don’t get involved in the morning chase, they save energy for the closing three kilometres. We’ve even seen Steven Kruijswijk getting involved in the finale of the race.
Giacomo Nizzolo – he’s just not at the level of the other sprinters. Yes, he is fast, but it will take an almost perfect sprint for him to win. His lead out isn’t as good as the others and his sprint isn’t quite as fast, it’s not looking great for Nizzolo!
It has to be a win for Elia Viviani, QuickStep will not want any more mistakes!
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