Ubrique > Iznáiar 200.6km
The race begins with a funny looking stage. We have 3547m of climbing, but a lot of that comes right at the start of the day, the rest of the route is undulating, but without big gradients. How the bunch ride the opening climb will determine the race we get. Will a strong break escape? Will a team like Astana take control and ride a good tempo on the climb, before allowing a break to escape after it? Stages don’t often look like this, I’m excited to see what type of race we get.
Lovely and sunny with temperatures hitting 17 degrees. The wind will come from the north and will be around 10-15km/h.
14.7km at 5.5% makes for an interesting start to the stage. Teams will be on the rollers before the stage.
The final 20km starts with a relatively easy climb of 8.3km at 3.9%, then we have a small descent, a small climb, and a fast descent towards the finishing town. Back in 2020, we saw the peloton hit some crazy speeds on this downhill, close to 100km/h. It leads the bunch over a bridge, before a sharp, right-hand turn which leads into the climb.
1.3km at 7.5% is a great way to finish a stage. Back in 2020, Gonzalo Serrano attacked from the bottom and held off the chasing pack. From memory, the climb was harder than the numbers suggested, something which happens a lot in Spain.
The favourites for the stage are Cosnefroy and Serrano, will AG2R and Movistar look to control the opening climb? Ineos and Astana will also look to ensure a strong break doesn’t escape, they have interest in the stage and GC. The early climb does put some worry into my mind, but it’s likely we’ll see a controlled stage and a big finish.
The finish is about positioning and legs! Teams need a good starting point, so we’ll see a crazy battle on the downhill run to town. Once on the climb we’ll have to see who wants to set pace, Serrano’s move in 2020 showed that it is possible to surprise the big teams. If we do get a “sprint” finish, it’s very important to wait as long as you can before launching, the final 300m is very steep.
Benoît Cosnefroy – the Frenchman should love this finish, he’s an expert in this type of punchy hill. He started off his season with a respectable 5th place in GP Marseillaise, which was even more impressive as he caught COVID not long before the race. With the classics squad of Dewulf, Naesen and Van Avermaet placement shouldn’t be a problem for the start of the climb, it will then be over to his legs.
Jhonatan Narváez – he’s another who loves a finish like this. He doesn’t get many chances to go for stage glory, but this finish suits him better than anyone else on the Ineos team. If he gets to go for it, he’ll be challenging for the win.
Mauri Vansevenant – would normally love this finish, but we’ll have to see what his current shape is like. If he’s now 100%, he’ll be up there.
Alexey Lutsenko – given the way he rode on Monday; he must be considered a big favourite for this stage. He does pack a good uphill sprint, but you wouldn’t normally associate him with this type of finish, but his form cannot be ignored.
Biniam Ghirmay – already has a win to his name this season, and he does like a tough finish, but I worry this finish is just a little hard for him. He could still finish in the top 10, but winning will likely be beyond him.
Mikkel Honoré – abandoned Valenciana due to sickness, hopefully that won’t have an impact on him in this race. He would normally go well in this type of finish, but needs to be 100%.
I’ll take a win for Benoît Cosnefroy, it’s a finish that should suit him well.