Orihuela > Torrevieja 155km
The big day in the battle for the yellow jersey. With 3650m of climbing, this is a tough day in the saddle, especially when we look at the final climb. This climb can be categorised in many ways, I’ll go with 4.5km at 10.5%, and the final 3km is on gravel. QuickStep came here during team camp to do a recon, but thought their GPS was wrong when it tried to take them up the stone path, but it’s real! The organisers have said the road is in a better condition than it was then, but riders will still be worried about punctures.
Looks like being a grey day, but it should stay dry.
On a climb like this the strongest will win, fancy tactics don’t give you great legs. QuickStep will look to control the morning break, even though they don’t have to. Other teams like Movistar and Bora will also get in on the act, so I don’t think the break stands much of a chance.
As usual the peloton will approach the final climb at a ridiculous speed, the entrance to the climb is very narrow. QuickStep showed in the first two stages that they have the big engines required to control the peloton; I expect to see Remco start the climb right at the front. Once on the climb, it’s all about who is the strongest.
It’s just a horrible looking climb, even without taking the gravel into consideration. A climb like this should be about seated power, I know which rider it suits.
Remco Evenepoel – his performance on Wednesday was very impressive, he starts this stage as the overwhelming favourite. He has the seated power required to smash up the climb, I wonder when he’ll look to make his attack. His rivals know an attack will be coming, but can they stay with him?
Alejandro Valverde – we didn’t get to see much of him on Monday, he made no effort to follow Evenepoel. He looked brilliant in Mallorca; I was a little disappointed with his effort in the opening stage. Historically, Valverde performs very well on these climbs, this is a stage he’ll be looking forward to. Beating Remco will be hard, but he’ll give it a go.
Aleksandr Vlasov – very good on steep climbs, he’ll be hoping to give Remco a run for his money. Winning might be a little hard, but he’ll be hoping to cement his second place on GC.
Carlos Rodriguez – after a brilliant performance in l’Avenir, it was good to see him starting 2022 in fine form. The Spaniard is a big prospect, he’ll be hoping for another podium finish.
It seems inevitable that Remco Evenepoel will take another win.