By David Hunter
Hipódromo de la Zarzuela > Madrid 124.2km
We end with a sprint.
The usual finish in Madrid, nothing much to say about the route.
Wide roads help the riders who lose positions in the corners, but you must be in position for the final U-turn with just over 1km to go. The final kilometre can be messy, at this point of a grand tour most riders are tired and the lead out isn’t as strong as normal.
A little bit grey, with a chance of some rain. The sun should be out for the finish, hopefully the roads stay dry.
Sam Bennett – he’s got one stage win, and I think he should have two. QuickStep have the best sprint train in the race, it is long and very strong. Without a GC rider, they will have five men to guide Bennett in the closing kilometres. The power of Cavagna is crucial, he ensures they’ll hit the front with 2km to go. Then it’s over to Steimle, Štybar and Mørkøv to do the rest. This is a stage they have won for three consecutive years, with Trentin, Viviani and Jakobsen. Can they go for number four?
Pascal Ackermann – his train is fairly strong, especially Schwarzmann and Selig. He “won” stage 9, but in reality he was well beaten. It would be some turnaround if he can take this stage.
Jasper Philipsen – he’s enjoyed a very good race. He almost won stage 4, but Bennett just passed him on the line, but he got his win on Thursday, winning a very demanding stage. The Belgian is a fast sprinter, but to beat Bennett and Ackermann he needs to start in a good position. His sprint train is fast, but inexperienced. If they get it right, he can challenge for the win.
Magnus Cort – won here back in 2016, but he rarely challenges in full sprints these days.
Max Kanter – the young German is a quick sprinter, but he doesn’t have a sprint train to help. With just Jasha Sütterlin to guide, the best he can hope for is a top 5.
It’s been a funny old year. The Covid crisis had a huge impact on the cycling season, but given how many people have died, we shouldn’t complain. The previews have gone from strength to strength, it really is humbling to think how many people read them. As ever, a massive thanks to Pablo and the team for all the editing and translating. I’ll be back in 2021, hopefully we get some racing in February.
Got to be another win for Sam Bennett, what a year he’s had.
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