Vila Real de Santo António > Tavira 32.2km ITT
This is a very long time trial for a five-day race. The gaps between the riders will be huge and this stage will shape the GC battle. The route is relatively flat, there is an uphill section in the middle, but the gradients won’t worry any of the TT specialists. This is all about raw power.
The wind is coming from the north and will reach around 30km/h, which is bloody windy for a TT. The first half of the route is either headwind or crosswind, with a lovely tailwind for the second half. The wind is strong enough to worry some of the riders, hopefully we don’t see any crashes.
Remco Evenepoel – he knows this is where the GC can be won. Last year was a little mixed on his TT bike. He did take a win in the Tour of Denmark but hoped for more than the bronze medals he picked up at the Euros and Worlds and a disappointing 9th place at the Olympics. He then rocked up to the Chrono des Nations at the end of the season, where Küng put over a minute into him over 44km. This all sounds a little doom and gloom, but recent events make me feel positive about this stage. We’ve seen the power Remco has when helping in the sprint train, I think this TT is a huge target for him, I’m excited to see what he can do. I think many will look at this as a two-horse race, me included. Remco will have the time splits of Küng, he’ll know what he must do.
Stefan Küng – last year was huge for him, he won TTs in Valenciana, Suisse, Euros and Chrono des Nations, but he just missed out on a medal in Tokyo, the worlds and a stage win in the Tour de France. He’ll look at this stage as a big opportunity, not just to take the stage, but also to give him a chance of doing something on GC. He climbed very well on Thursday, but knows he’ll need time before the final stage. Given the strength of the wind I think being heavier than Remco will give Küng an advantage.
Brandon McNulty – started last season in fine form on his TT bike, he was 4th in Paris-Nice and Catalunya, before finishing 2nd in the Basque Country. The American has always been excellent in this discipline, he’s a former junior world champion. Given his start to the season, he’ll be expecting to challenge for the podium.
Tobias Foss – the Norwegian is a strong TT rider; this is a chance to ensure a high position in GC. It was a shame he crashed on Thursday, he looked poised for a podium spot in the uphill sprint. Winning against the quality here will be hard, but he should be capable of challenging for the top 5.
Yves Lampaert – the Belgian TT champion will be looking forward to this. The windy conditions could help him, he’s a master at riding in tough conditions. He’ll be one of the earlier starters, we’ll have to see if he catches a break with the wind.
Dani Martínez – he’s the Colombian TT champion, but he’s never won a TT apart from his three titles. He’s the Ineos GC rider, so they’ll be expecting a good performance. I’d be surprised if he makes the podium.
Kasper Asgreen – currently trying to get kilometres in his legs, he’s undercooked due to a recent COVID positive.
Dylan Van Baarle – always capable of a good TT, he’ll like the length of this one. Winning will be difficult, but Van Baarle could provide the surprise of the day.
Geraint Thomas – not got the shape to be challenging.
Ethan Hayter – recently had COVID, but still managed a brilliant TT in Provence, but faded throughout the race. Finishing with the front group yesterday was impressive, he should be able to post a competitive time in this stage, but I don’t see him winning.
Remco versus Küng. Given the power he’s displayed in recent lead outs, I’m taking a win for Remco Evenepoel.