Leitza > Viana 207km
It’s one of those days where you think it’s going to be a breakaway, but probably ends up in a sprint. The start is good news for the break, as is the lack of sprinters in the peloton. The bad news for the breakaway is the whole field are close on GC, and you can’t simply ask good climbers not to take their chances and jump in the morning move. The chances of the morning break depend on its size, lack of a GC threat and which teams miss out.
Cloudy sun, with temperatures getting up to 15 degrees.
It’s a tough start to the day. Straight from the gun we have a cat 3 climb which is 3.4km at 6.8%. A fast descent follows, before a gradual unclassified climb. After another descent, we then have a long period of false flat before the cat 2 climb. This time we’re talking 9.2km at 5.2%, it’s quite a hard climb.
The last 11km of the stage is full of little kickers and fast downhill sections, perfect for those wanting to launch a late attack. If it does end in a sprint, the final 500m averages 3.8%.
The start means we’re likely to see attacking racing from the gun, but the opening climb isn’t long enough for big splits, I don’t see the break forming here. If it doesn’t go until the cat 2 climb, then we’re in for proper fight and lots of riders getting dropped. However, the break will probably form in-between the two categorised climbs, but what size of group will get away?
Depending on the size, we could see several teams interested in chasing it down. This stage offers a rare chance for some teams to take a world tour win. At 207km, it’s a long stage, Jumbo-Visma will need to be careful about who gets up the road, they won’t be overly keen on chasing all day. If teams want a sprint, they’ll need to lend a hand.
As usual in stages like this, the teams that miss the break will be important. Despite not having sprinters in the race, a lot of teams do have a fast finisher, there should be a few teams interested in riding, if the break isn’t too big. It’s a stage with many possibilities, but I’m leaning towards a sprint.
Julian Alaphilippe – it’s a relatively easy stage for QuickStep to help control, even though they are one man short. The uphill finish is good for him, and he’s likely to start the sprint from a good position, it’s what QuickStep always do. He lost time today, but that was due to a mechanical, he’ll be up for this one.
Primož Roglič – after a stunning win today, I wouldn’t put it past him to take another stage. The finish is uphill, which is perfect for him. He would prefer a longer drag, but if he starts the sprint from the front, it will take a huge effort for someone to come past him. He’s previously won finishes of 1km at 6%, can he do 500m at 4%?
Andrea Vendrame – it’s good finish for the Italian, but I worry about his positioning for the final kilometre. To win this sprint, you’ll need to be very close to the front for the final turn at 200 to go, I doubt AG2R can deliver their man to the front of the race.
Alessandro Covi – he’s enjoyed a fabulous start to 2022. We’ve already seen him winning with a late attack, and smashing up steep ramps, but can he win a sprint too? The Italian does have a fast kick, and with someone like Ulissi to get him into position, he’ll be confident of challenging for the win.
Orluis Aular – technically speaking, he’s one of the fastest in the peloton. The problem will be positioning for the sprint, Caja-Rural aren’t a strong team.
Lennard Kämna – breakaway hopeful, or a late attack.
Pierre Latour – late attack.
Marc Soler – late attack.
I think we’ll get a sprint finish and a win for Julian Alaphilippe.