Niederdorf/Villabassa > Kals am Grossglockner 143km
Another day that will interest the breakaway, but will the GC men come out to play?
Cloudy at the start, but the sun will be out for the end of the stage. The wind isn’t strong, but it will be a tailwind for most of the final 65km.
This cat 2 climb is 7.2km at 5.8% and starts after just 23km of racing. If you are a climber down on GC, you hope the break goes here.
Harder than it looks. Nothing is categorised, but this is a grippy finish to the race. First up is 3.2km at 8.7%, then there’s 3km of flat road. Then the road kicks up again, this time it’s 3.7km at 5.2%, which crests with just 2.5km remaining in the day. After around 1km of flat, the final kilometre averages 3.3%.
On paper, it’s a good stage for the breakaway, but I’m not so sure. After the first climb is out the way, it’s a very easy stage to control if someone wants to. The finish might not be much, but’s as close to an uphill finish as you’ll get in this race. If the GC teams want to make it hard, they can create some gaps in the finale.
The issue for the GC teams is the big day that awaits on Friday, that is where the race can be won or lost. Which teams would have an interest chasing the break for a finish like this? Bahrain are the obvious pick, but I sense DSM would also be interested in chasing this down for Bardet. Ineos could try something, but this finish isn’t ideal for their three GC riders. As ever, the success of the breakaway depends on the composition. With 23 riders within 4 minutes of Bilbao, there’s ever chance one of these riders takes a gamble and tries to jump in the break, which will mean Bahrain have to chase. If the break is relatively weak, Bahrain will chase. If the break is strong and doesn’t contain a GC threat, Bahrain won’t chase. It’s as simple as that!
Pello Bilbao – for the fourth stage in a row, he starts as the favourite. He’s climbing very well, and sprinting fast, the perfect mix for this race. Bahrain are looking strong, they’ll have several riders to hold the race together in the last 10km and set up a “sprint” finish.
Felix Gall – I’ve been keeping my on this boy, he impressed in the Basque Country and his form has continued here. He packs quite a fast sprint, and as he’s now on home roads, I expect him to be extra motivated. AG2R lost a few men today, they don’t really have enough to chase the morning break. They’ll likely hope for Bahrain to chase the break, then they’ll try and surprise in the final kilometres.
Romain Bardet – form is looking good, but the problem he has is Bilbao, he just doesn’t have the kick to outsprint him.
Atilla Valter – another climber with a fast sprint, but they can’t let Bilbao jump from the front, he’s too fast.
Niklas Eg – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Thibaut Pinot – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Ben Swift – breakaway hopeful number 3.
David De La Cruz – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Someone will feel the urge to help Bahrain chase the break, and Pello Bilbao will take the win.