2022 Itzulia Basque Country Stage 5 Preview

Zamudio > Mallabia 163.1km

Get ready for another fun day in the Basque Country. So far, the race has been a little on the tactical side, this stage should be one for the big hitters.

Weather

Mild, and the wind will be stronger than in recent days. There is a chance of rain towards the end of the stage, that will make the final descent a little tricky.

Key Points

The final categorised climb of the day is this cat 2 effort. Overall, it’s 7.1km at 5.3%, but the opening 3km averages 9%. 

This is the rise to the finishing line, it’s proper steep. Only a few can win on a finish like this.

Tactics

First, let’s consider the breakaway. Today it got very close to the stage win, tomorrow is the final chance for the attackers. The start of the stage is good for those wanting to get in a strong break, there is an unclassified climb after just 5km of racing. This climb is only 4km at 5.6%, which isn’t long enough to force a strong move. Pretty soon after there is a cat 2 climb, 5.5km at 5.1%, this is where there the break could form.

Once it does get up the road, we’ll have to see who’s interested in chasing it down. Some teams will be concerned about Saturday, others will be keen on working hard considering the uphill finish. Jumbo-Visma will be happy on chasing the break, but they won’t do it all on their own, others will need to help. QuickStep are the obvious option, as are Ineos, both will have interest in this stage, but it all depends on the composition of the early break.

The finale of the stage kicks off with the cat 2 climb, it’s harder than the numbers look, but not hard enough for GC riders to be dropped. The descent will be fast, then we hit the rise to the line. The final 500m is proper steep, it’s made for the specialists. However, the climb isn’t very long, so there shouldn’t be big gaps.

Contenders

Primož Roglič – this is his type of stage. Questions were asked after his display on Wednesday, but he answered them today, by being very visible at the front of the peloton. The steep uphill finish is perfect for him, especially as he’ll have Vingegaard to help lead him out. 

Julian Alaphilippe – he’s in good from, but I don’t think he’s at his very best. He’ll still be challenging for the win, but he could be a little off the level required to win in this stage.

Remco Evenepoel – no way he wins.

Enric Mas – he’s a solid challenger for the podium. I find he’s underrated in this type of finish, you just need to think back to last year’s Vuelta, where he as second to Roglič in a wall finish. I doubt he’ll win the stage, but he should be finishing on the podium.

Pello Bilbao – I don’t think he’s a proper challenger for this stage.

Diego Ulissi – if the pace on the penultimate climb isn’t crazy, he’ll be up there for the finish. He should be challenging for the win, but I think he’ll come up short.

Ineos – the win today was a massive surprise, but fair play to Martínez for surprising Alaphilippe. Given the finish, both he and Yates should be challenging for the win.

Victor Lafay – breakaway hopeful number 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Prediction Time

I think we’ll see several teams happy to chase the break down and Primož Roglič to take the win.

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