Vierzon > Dun-le-Palestel 190.6km
After today’s crazy stage, this one should be a calmer affair. The second half of the stage is constantly up and down and the race finishes with one lap of a circuit around the finishing town. This circuit is harder than it looks, particularly as it takes place on narrow roads. A sprint is still more than likely, this is the last chance for the pure sprinters.
Sunny and a lot warmer than the first two stages. The wind is much lighter than today, there shouldn’t be any echelons.
It’s complicated. Narrow roads, lots of little kickers and some fast descents. The narrow roads should make it easier for a couple of sprint trams to control.
The final 2km averages 3.2%, but it saves its maximum gradient of 6.8% until the very end.
The sprint teams will be all over this one. They’ll control the circuit and use the narrow roads to their advantage. Unlike stage 1, I don’t see Jumbo-Visma trying anything on the climbs, they’ll wait and use the uphill finish to their advantage.
Wout Van Aert – he must start as the favourite to win the stage, thanks to the uphill finish. Jumbo-Visma have been very impressive in this race, the finish is perfect for Teunissen and Laporte to put the hurt on, leaving Van Aert to sprint for the win. He was second today, but this finish is much more to his liking. He did crash today, but he looked to be fine afterwards.
Fabio Jakobsen – his win today was very impressive; he flew past Van Aert in the final 100m. The Dutch sprinter doesn’t mind an uphill sprint, think back to his first stage win in last year’s Vuelta. The slight issue is the 2km of uphill towards the line. Jumbo-Visma are likely to make this very fast, in the hope that when Jakobsen starts to sprint he doesn’t hit the same speed as today. We’ll have to see if he can keep up with the flying Jumbo bees.
Jasper Philipsen – crashed today, but I’m hearing he’s fine. That’s great news as this stage is very good for him. The Belgian won’t mind the little kickers and he has one of the fastest uphill sprints in the peloton. When you also consider his current form, he’ll be a hard man to beat.
Mads Pedersen – another who likes an uphill sprint, and the Dane seems in good form. With Kirsch and Stuyven to help position him, this should be a good finish for him.
Sam Bennett – in previous years, we’ve seen him win uphill finishes. With Danny van Poppel to guide him into position, he should be able to start the sprint from a good position. Winning this type of sprint will require the Irishman to be at his very best, fingers crossed his shape is good enough.
Bryan Coquard – enjoying a fine season, this is a good finish for him. He’s unlikely to beat the very best, but a podium finish is well within his grasp.
Dylan Groenewegen – don’t forget about Dylan! Some will tell you this finish is too hard for him, but I don’t agree. Yes, it does suit some of his rivals a little more, but I still think he has a chance. With Luca Mezgec to help, he shouldn’t be written off.
I’ll go against the power of Jumbo-Visma and take a win for Jasper Philipsen.