La Pobla de Segur > Vilanova i la Geltrú 206.1km
After today’s firecracker of a finish, we have Nairo Quintana as the new leader, but João Almeida sits on the same time as him. This means bonus seconds are going to come into play in this stage, and they’ve been placed near the end of the stage, which is very bad news for those hoping for a breakaway success. The sprints come with 30km and 12km to go, UAE will be very interested in these, as will Bora as Higuita is only 6 seconds down on GC. Both riders would normally beat Quintana in a sprint, I think we’ll see the sprint teams getting a little help controlling the morning move.
A little on the grey side, but it’s the wind that’s going to cause a problem. The start of the day will see light winds, but it’ll be 25km/h by the midpoint of the stage, reaching 35km/h by the finish.
The riders head south after km110 and stay in that direction for 50km. You can see from the map that we have lots of trees in this part of the world, but there are exposed sections too. With a wind of 25-30km/h, it’s likely we’ll see teams trying to create echelons and put some of the GC contenders into difficulty. A certain Colombian would love to take advantage of his superior echelon skills before we get to the sprint points.
A nice-looking finish. We have a couple of corners to help line out the bunch and the roads aren’t too narrow. The final obstacle is a roundabout with 500m to go, this could be very important. The roadbook doesn’t indicate if both sides are open, but if it is, the teams that go left will win the stage, it is significantly shorter than the right-hand side. Sprinters need to note that it’ll be a 35km/h block headwind for the sprint!
Phil Bauhaus – this is a huge chance for him. He was close in stage 2, but Groves got the better of him on the line. The German seems to be in fine form, but he’s down to just three teammates to help, which could be a big problem in the finale. Bahrain will need one man to work on the front in the early stages of the race, that leaves just two, which will make life difficult for Bauhaus.
Kaden Groves – just four teammates left for the Aussie, and no Michael Matthews as final man. Bling was a huge part of the win in stage 2, without him I think Groves will find it very hard to take a second stage win.
Hugo Hofstetter – he’ll be needed to sprint at both intermediate sprints, that will dent his chances of going for the win but defending Quintana’s GC lead comes first.
Ethan Vernon – 4th place was a decent result in Perpignan, it hints at what’s to come. Like a lot of teams, QuickStep have lost two men to illness, but they won’t be expected to work on the front throughout the day. That means they can save Van Wilder, Vervaeke, Devenyns and Bagioli for the finale. It’s not their regular sprint train, but all of them are good enough to get Vernon into the best spot for the sprint.
Juan Molano – there’s a chance he might need to get involved in helping Almeida chase bonus seconds, which will significantly reduce his chances of challenging for the win.
Mads Würtz – the most likely rider who can take advantage of depleted sprint trains.
I think we’ll see splits in the wind, but the main GC riders will likely make the front group. In the hectic sprint I think we’ll see Ethan Vernon taking his first professional win.