Laudio > Amurio 181.1km
Stage 3 and the GC battle is going to get started. We have 3509m of climbing, it’s going to be a tough day in the saddle. The day ends with a circuit that contains two steep climbs; this lap is done on two occasions. Despite the final climb cresting 24km from home, expect to see big attacks.
It will be a cloudy day, but it should stay dry. With temperatures hitting 15 degrees, it will feel relatively warm.
These are the two climbs in the lap circuit, you can see that they are very close together. The cat 3 climb is 1.3km at 10%, the cat 2 effort is 2km at 10%. There isn’t street view available for either climb, but it seems that both are done on narrow roads, which increases the difficulty. Expect to see big attacks.
This is the final 6km of the stage, you can see it starts with around 550m at 10%. A fast descent then leads almost all the way to the finish, with the final 150m kicking uphill.
It’s over to Jumbo-Visma, Ineos and QuickStep. They have one stage each, and both squads have two outstanding candidates for this stage. Jumbo will have to chase the morning break; they’ll hope it rolls off the front of the bunch before the first categorised climb of the day. With most riders still close on GC, Jumbo will want a small break, so they only have to use one or two men to chase.
Once we get close to the circuit, we’ll start to see QuickStep and Ineos get involved. QuickStep want a fast pace to help set up Alaphilippe and Evenepoel, both look to be in good form. Ineos are full of quality, they’ll also want to get involved in the fight to control the pace, they have multiple options for a stage like this.
The rest of the teams will have to sit back a little and see what happens. The narrow climbs means that positioning is vital, those who start the climbs too far back will be on the back foot and will likely find themselves missing out on the front group. As the final climb crests with over 20km to go, there is a chance the front group gets caught by the peloton, but it really depends on how many riders are still in contention in the chasing group.
Julian Alaphilippe – the world champion took an excellent win today; it was great to see him getting his season up and running. This week is about winning stages, getting some quality racing in the legs ahead of the Ardennes. This stage is perfect for him, he is one of the best in the world when the gradient goes above 10%. He’ll attack on the final climbs and see who can go with him, then he’ll hope to win the sprint.
Remco Evenepoel – he’s been working on 10% climbs; this stage will show how much progress he’s made. His current form is very strong, he’ll be looking to race aggressively and put pressure on other teams. Having both him and Alaphilippe is excellent news for the team, they’ll hope both make the front group after the final climb. We’ll then have to see how the rest of the stage unfolds, but Evenepoel is unlikely to win from a sprint.
Primož Roglič – his TT was out of this world, putting 16 seconds into 3rd place in a 7.5km TT is simply incredible. We all know he loves the steep slopes in the Basque Country, this is a stage where he’ll look to test his legs. If you listen carefully to his interview after the TT, his performance was a surprise to him, and he was quick to say it didn’t guarantee he would do the same on the longer climbs. Now, that might be bullshit, it’s very hard to imagine a situation where Roglič doesn’t make the front group after the climbs.
Jonas Vingegaard – provides Jumbo-Visma with two strong options. The Dane is very strong on steep slopes and having two cards to play is important when QuickStep also have two. Not only can he climb well, but he also has a big engine which is important to hold off the chasing peloton.
Adam Yates – Ineos have multiple options, but Yates is normally strong on slopes like this. To win the stage he’ll need someone like Martínez to also make the front group, Yates won’t be winning from a sprint.
Aleksandr Vlasov – he looked very impressive in GP Miguel Indurain. He was part of the group that escaped the peloton near the end but was caught just before the final sprint. Despite using up vital energy in the break, Vlasov still had enough to stay near the front on the final climb and sprint to second place. He’s a dark horse for this stage.
Enric Mas – Movistar will hope to be one of the teams to impress. Mas should be their man for this stage, he was going well in Tirreno before his crash. It will be hard for him to win this stage, but he’ll hope to finish in the front group.
I see a strong group of five or so riders at the head of the race after the final categorised climb. That group is likely to include Roglič, Vingegaard, Alaphilippe and Evenepoel. If the group only contains these four riders, they’ll happily contribute and ride to the end. If they are joined by other riders, they’ll look to attack and bring the front group down to two. I’ll take a win for Jonas Vingegaard after he and Evenepoel go to the line together.