Al Ain > Jebel Hafeet 147.8km
The race ends with the big mountain stage. We’ve been here many times; it’s climb we all know well. It is on wide roads, but the mountain is steep and very demanding, especially in the heat. The GC is still all to play for, but UAE are looking nice and strong.
It’s a very hot day with temperatures over 30 degrees, even on the climb. There is a little bit of wind around, and the early parts of the stage are exposed to the elements. If the wind gusts, we’ll see some teams trying to create echelons, but I doubt they’ll be successful.
10.1km at 7%, it’s tough climb. The best climber will win the stage.
Can anyone stop Pogačar? Ineos and Bora will certainly give it a try. Almeida isn’t at his best, there is a chance Pogačar could be isolated in the final kilometres of this climb, but it’s still going to be very hard to beat him. We’ll see both Ineos and Bora looking to set a fast pace on the climb, teeing up a big attack from their leaders. Pogačar will hope to have a teammate to cover the moves, but I don’t think he’ll be too worried if he must cover it himself. The way the GC is sitting, the Slovenian doesn’t need to win the stage, if the big three finish together. We’ll have to see how greedy he’s feeling.
The breakaway always has a little chance in this stage. We could see someone get quite far up the climb, like what James Knox did a couple of years ago, we’ll have to wait and see how much rope the peloton gives them.
Tadej Pogačar – he’s won here on the last two visits, it’s a climb that suits him well. He looked nice and strong the other day, he has a 14 second lead over Vlasov 17s to Yates in the GC battle, so the race isn’t over yet. UAE have a strong team to support, Majka looked particularly impressive on Jebel Jais. It’s up to the other teams to make the race, UAE can sit back on the early slopes and try to keep as many men for the finale as they can. When the attacks come, Pogačar will react to Yates and Vlasov, but will he be happy to follow them and not attack himself? One thing to note is the heat, Pogačar isn’t always a fan.
Adam Yates – won here back in 2020, one of the last times Pogačar was dropped on a climb. The steep slopes of this climb are perfect for Yates, it’s almost his ideal climb. Ineos were strong the other day, it’s incredible that Ganna is only 4 seconds behind Pogačar. This stage is all about Yates, he’ll launch his usual big attack inside the final 4km and see what happens.
Aleksandr Vlasov – just like Yates, he’ll be hoping that Pogačar shows a little weakness on this climb. The Russian won in Valenciana, put in a brilliant TT in this race and looked strong on Jebel Jais. It’s likely to be a three-way battle for the stage, Vlasov has decent shot at taking the win.
Stefan Bissegger – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Tom Dumoulin – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Rob Stannard – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Jakob Egholm – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Time to stop being boring, I’ll take a win for Adam Yates. The Englishman loves this climb, it’s perfect for him. Throw in the heat, and I think he might just edge it, with Pogačar taking the GC.