2022 Itzulia Basque Country Stage 6 Preview

Eibar > Arrate 135.8km

The final stage, it’s another belter. Just like in Paris-Nice and Catalunya this is another race that ends with an incredible stage. It changes slightly from year to year, but it always delivers. After some tactical days, we’ll have to see how the teams approach this one. Last year, it exploded very early, we’ll have to wait and see what this year brings.

Weather

There’s a little bit of rain in the area, they might get lucky and miss it.

Key Points

After 38km of racing, the fun begins. We have a cat 2 climb quickly followed by a cat 1. Both are incredibly difficult, and this is when teams will already start to lift the pace.

Up the bike path to Arrate. This is a horrible climb and will push Remco to his limit, or maybe even past it.

The usual Arrate climb. After this stage, it’s one that’s even harder than it looks. Remember, first into the final corner takes the win.

Tactics

After today’s late attack, the GC is delicately balanced. Evenepoel is in the lead, but only just. He has a 2 second advantage over Martínez, with Ion Izagirre at 21s, Vlasov and Bilbao at 22, Vingegaard at 29s and Mas at 37s. Then we have a gap to Roglič at 1:05 and Yates 1:15. I think all these riders can still win the race; it really is an intriguing situation heading into the final stage. So, how are Ineos going to win it?

Going for the bonus seconds is the obvious move, but holding this stage together is almost impossible. That means they must try a different approach, make the day as hard as possible to isolate Remco and then drop him. The problem they’ll face is the other riders close on GC. By making the pace high, they’ll eventually burn through all their domestiques, that’s when Martínez will be vulnerable to attacks by Vingegaard, Vlasov, Bilbao, Izagirre and Mas.

It really is a very tough stage to get right, but Ineos have been the strongest team all week. QuickStep look vulnerable, if the pace is high, only Alaphilippe will be left to help Remco. I think we’ll see Ineos go full and try to drop Remco before the final climb. We’ll have to see if it works. This tactic means the break has no chance, just like in the final stage of Paris-Nice.

Contenders

Jonas Vingegaard – he’s looked very good all week, it’s a real shame he lost time today because of a crash within sight of the line. Now with Roglič to help him, he’s in a very strong position to win the stage. He’s been one of the strongest riders all week, he arrived in the Basque Country one week before the race started, this stage will be his big target. If everything goes according to plan, he might even win the GC too.

Aleksandr Vlasov – he’s been in great form, but he might sacrifice his stage hopes by going crazy for the GC win. 

Dani Martínez – winning the stage won’t be the priority, it’s all about the GC. Now, if the stage is still up for grabs, he’ll go for it, but Ineos are going to be all consumed with trying to drop Remco. Martínez has been in brilliant form this year, but given the way he rode the Giro, that’s hardly a surprise. Ineos are very strong, they’ll dictate the type of race we get.

Enric Mas – up there every day, but still flying under the radar. He normally goes well on the Arrate climb.

Remco Evenepoel – too hard for him.

Prediction Time

They’ve been strong all week, I’ll take Dani Martínez to win the stage and GC.

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