4 cat 3 climbs,2 cat 2s and a cat 1 as the riders travel 176km from Yanqing to Qiandiajian.
The first thing to remember is that a cat 1 climb here is not the same as the Tour de France.This one is only 5.1% for 7.4km and crests 77km before the end of the race.I doubt it will be hard enough to shed most of the sprinters and certainly a rider like Michael Matthews is very capable of getting over it.
The profile of the race seems perfect for a breakaway.The problem is that all of the riders are close on GC.We could see some interesting tactics being played out.The GC favourite is Dan Martin but I don’t think Garmin will be too keen to chase.
With Hushovd leading BMC might be happy to work all day and bring it back for another sprint.Thor will reach the end with the peloton,so this seems like the most logical outcome.
I do have another scenario…..
A large break forms with most of the teams represented.Those not in it give chase but eventually give up.The break wins by a good margin and we have a new leader.Stage 4 ends up a mountain but it’s not too difficult,if a solid rider takes 4-5 minutes I think they’ll hang on for the overall title.
Will teams try and do this?
Thomas De Gendt wants to hold onto the KOTM jersey,so I expect him to be in the break.The problem for him is that this stage represents Flecha’s last chance for a win before his retirement.If either of them get 4-5 minutes up on GC,then the race is over.
This scenario happened at the Giro del Trentino,when Maxime Bouet clung on to 3rd place on the GC after a big break on stage 1.He is here again!
AG2R have a team full of possibilities:Riblon,Bardet,Betancur,Kadri,Nocentini and Peraud.They will play a card tomorrow,but which one?
The sprinters teams won’t give chase until after the cat 1 climb,as they’ll want to ensure that their men make it over.Will BMC keep the gap close until that point?
I think this stage should be very interesting after 2 dull stages.
I believe that some of the sprinters will survive with the peloton but I’m not sure if a break will stay away.
I’m taking Mezgec v Ferrari in a match bet as Ferrari won’t survive the climbs.It was 1/2 but now 7/20.
I’ll wait till in-play for the stage.