Ras al Khaimah Corniche > Al Marjan Island 181.9km
Today the climbers had their fun, this stage is another for the quick men. The only thing that could stop the sprinters is the wind.
Hot and sunny. The wind is coming from the west and will be 10-15km/h. There is a beautiful section of crosswind from km125 to km155, but the wind doesn’t look strong enough. Now, when riding in the desert it doesn’t take much to cause echelons, so I live in hope.
Out, U-turn, back.
We’ve seen in the first two sprints just how hard it is to get it right in these finishes. The U-turn comes with 3km to go, there’s still plenty of time afterwards to get into position. Here’s what you need in these finishes:
- Patience – there’s no point hitting the front with 5km to go, you’ll get swamped.
- Experience – in the last sprint Cavendish swapped places with Mørkøv until 2km to go. You need to be higher up the peloton to not get swamped.
- Luck – just when you think you’ve got it, another team can come flying past you and the chance is gone.
- Legs – a good position doesn’t guarantee a win, you still need the legs to finish it off.
Mark Cavendish – crashed hard today, already his second crash of the season. His chances in this stage will depend on his recover, we can only hope he’s fit to sprint. Cavendish took a brilliant win on Monday; it was a big sprint into that headwind. He doesn’t have the longest sprint train, but that isn’t a problem for him. Cavendish has all the experience in the world, as does Mørkøv, they’re a hard duo to beat.
Jasper Philipsen – first and second in the two sprint stages, Philipsen has hit the ground running. Getting the lead out correct in these hectic sprints is difficult, hats off to Alpecin-Fenix for nailing it twice. Jonas Rickaert is a hugely underrated final man, his work is equal to the very best, people need to start recognising this. It doesn’t matter if he’s riding for Philipsen or Merlier, he nails it more times than not. Hats off Jonas!
Dylan Groenewegen – needs to move up his sprint train in the final 5km. BikeExchange have a long train, the other teams are happy to let them dominate from 10km out. What’s happened in the other two stages is that the other squads then surge to the front in the final 3km leaving BikeExchange out of position. I would forget about leading the peloton until 4km out, then surge to the front and try to control the rest of the stage. If Groenewegen sits ahead of Mezgec, it will allow him to be further up the bunch and reduced the chances of him getting swamped.
Olav Kooij – super fast, especially when you consider his age. If he picks the right wheel to follow, he has the speed to win this stage.
Arnaud Démare – he’s not got it right yet this week, but the legs are good. As a team, they improved from stage 1 to 2, I hope that improvement continues. FDJ have a strong lead out, it’s only a matter of time before they get it right.
Sam Bennett – the new train is looking good, I think they just hit the front too early in the second stage. As the race goes on, Sam should get stronger, a stage win is certainly within his capabilities. If he can get a little bit of luck, he has the power to take the win.
BikeExchange to learn from their mistakes and Dylan Groenewegen to take the win.