Huesa > Chiclana de Segura 146.4km
The race ends with a tricky looking stage. We have a series of climbs in the opening 20km, two tough looking climbs in the middle of the day, and then a challenging uphill finish. With the GC still delicately balanced, it’s a stage that should provide a lot of entertainment. Wout Poels is 10 seconds clear of López, with a group of four riders sitting 2 seconds further back. With no bonus seconds, differences must be made on the road, and that won’t be easy. Bahrain is now the team in control of the race, and they have the men to do this. I doubt we’ll see any dangerous riders being allowed much of a gap; the damage will need to be done on the climb up to the finishing line.
Sunny and not much wind.
The opening of the race is tough, perfect for those wanting to jump in the breakaway. Most riders left in the race are no longer a threat on GC, Bahrain won’t be bothered about chasing down the break, that will be up to other teams. The above profile starts after just 5km of the stage.
This climb comes with around 40km to go. 1.9km at 9.1% is a tough test, but with a long way to go until the finish, I’m not sure attacking here is a wise move.
The final 6.8km rises at 5.5%. It’s not the hardest of climbs but it does have a tough finish. This is where López needs to attack and see if he can distance Poels. The GC battle will go all the way to the line.
A great stage for the breakaway. As we don’t have bonus seconds, there isn’t a real need for the GC teams to chase the break. Obviously, if teams are keen on winning the stage, they will have to chase the break. The stage is relatively short, and it features almost 3000m of climbing, it’s not an easy day. Bahrain has a big job to do at the start, they need to keep their eyes on the GC riders, they can’t let a threat jump in the break.
Once the break goes, we’ll see if Astana want to chase it. They’ve gone close to winning a stage but have fallen just short. There might not be any bonus seconds, but López will fancy his chances of winning the stage. UAE might chase for Covi, Ineos could ride for Narváez, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Whatever happens, the final 7km will be fascinating. Astana need to make the finish very difficult, then López will launch a big attack in the final kilometre. Can he put 10 seconds into Poels? He managed to beat him by 8 seconds in the second stage, it’s going to be touch and go.
Miguel Ángel López – a big stage for the Colombian. Everyone knows he needs to attack on the final climb, can he gap Poels? He would prefer it to be a little harder, but given the way he’s been going this week, I think he’ll fancy his chances of taking the overall win. Taking the stage could be a little more complicated, if he takes other riders with him, he’ll need to do all the work.
Simon Yates – missed out today, but it was always going to be hard as a solo rider when other teams had multiple options. What I did notice was the power in his legs when he attacked, no one could get close to him. This is a good finish for him, but his team aren’t strong enough to chase the break down, they’ll need help from others.
Alessandro Covi – could go for the break, or maybe wait until the end. We’ve already seen that Covi is the fastest on the steep finishes, I wouldn’t put it past him to win his second stage of the race. He’ll assess the situation at the start of the stage and decide about what to do.
Simon Clarke – he’s in the same position as Covi. The Aussie has enjoyed a good race, he would love a win to sign it off. I think his best chance would be from the break, I hope to see him on the move early in the stage.
Lenny Kämna – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Eddie Dunbar – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Matteo Trentin – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Sep Vanmarcke – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Zdenek Štybar – breakaway hopeful number 5.
Benoît Cosnefroy – breakaway hopeful number 6.
I’ll take a win for the breakaway; most teams will be happy to get a rider up the road and let them fight it out for the win. I think the winner will be Matteo Trentin, with Wout Poels just hanging on to the overall. I think López will drop him, but not by enough.