By David Hunter
Sarriguren – Estibalitz 192km
This should be a less stressful day.
With no real sprinters present, I don’t have to waste time wondering if they’ll survive the climbs. The stage has nearly 2800m of climbing, meaning it certainly isn’t flat, but the final 60km is nice and easy. The morning break should be controlled, setting up a bunch finish.
Dry, but the wind is a little stronger. The direction is good for crosswinds, it is coming from the north, but at around 15mph it doesn’t seem strong enough to make a massive difference.
The final 1.6km rises at an average of 4%, making it another one for the puncheurs. It is much easier than today, so it opens the doors to more riders, and it should be a large bunch sprint. There is a bend very close to the finishing line, having the inside line will be important.
What the picture doesn’t show is a big turn with just over 4km to go. The peloton move from a wide road, to a narrow one. This is likely to be a pinch point and positioning is very important. The long road that takes them to 2km to go is quite narrow and moving up the bunch will be very difficulty. Once they turn and head towards the finishing line, the road gets a little wider for the sprint.
Julian Alaphilippe – he was unstoppable today, taking a relatively easy win. This finish is harder for him to win, he prefers a tougher gradient at the end of the stage. Although, I’m sure we all remember his win in Tirreno, in a finish which was actually a little easier than this. He now sits just 5 seconds behind the yellow jersey, meaning he could move into the race lead with a top 2 finish, something I’m sure he’s interested in. As we don’t have any proper sprinters in this race, he should be confident of taking another win.
Jay McCarthy – he had to ride for Schachmann today, but this finish should really be for him. The Aussie has a good chance of sprinting for glory, which could also help his German colleague hold onto the yellow jersey. One problem is that Bora seem to be protecting Buchmann, Konrad and Schachmann, meaning less riders to act as domestiques during the stage. The DS will decide the role of McCarthy, I hope he makes the right decision!
Paddy Bevin – today’s finish turned out to be too hard for the Kiwi, no shame in that. As I’ve already mentioned, this is an easier finish, one that he should be able to compete for. He has a good turn of speed, but CCC aren’t always the best at helping to position him. If he gets into a good spot, he can win this stage.
Omar Fraile – Astana rode for him today, he’ll be disappointed to only have finished 4th. Looking at their squad, he is the logical leader for this stage, but it will be hard to win the stage. He did win a similar finish in the 2018 Tour de Romandie, beating Colbrelli to the line, so he will have faith in his own ability.
Enrique Sanz – this is a good finish for the Basque rider. Today was too hard for him, but the local man will be super motivated to show himself at the front of the race. He was 2nd to Trentin in the final stage of Andalucía, a day that also ended with an uphill sprint. Taking a world tour win would be enormous for him and his team, Euskadi Basque Country – Murias.
Enrico Battaglin – not in the picture today, but the finish was probably too hard for him. This is a much better stage for the Italian, he needs to start delivering for his new bosses.
You might think I’d go with Alaphilippe, he is the logical choice, but I’m going against the grain. This is a finish that is perfect for Jay McCarthy, I expect him to surprise the Frenchman.
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