La Grande Béroche > Romont 178.6km
The first road stage of the race is a lumpy one, and it has an uphill finish. The finish was used back in 2019 when David Gaudu took the win, you need a punch to cross the line first.
A cracking day in Romandie, see, it does happen. It will be a little on the windy side, but it shouldn’t impact the race.
The final 22km is constantly up and down. The climbs aren’t long, but they’re tough enough for those without a sprint to think about going on the attack.
The stage ends with 1.2km at 7%, and the sweeping bends are tricky to navigate. To win this stage you need some grunt.
It’s all about positioning for the final climb. A good position for the finale is always required, but even more so in an uphill finish. Ineos are in control of the race, and they’ll chase down the morning break. I think we’ll see brave attacks in the final 30km, and there is a chance someone upsets those who want a “sprint”, but it’s more than likely the attackers will get caught and we get a grandstand finish.
Who will have the riders to position their captain at the front for the final climb? Ineos will have to use up a couple of riders chasing the break, but they should have Sheffield and Plapp to do a lead out for Thomas and Hayter, remember, they want to ensure Thomas doesn’t lose any time.
One of the best teams in this type of finish is QuickStep, they rarely get it wrong. They’ve got some big engines who can control the final 3km, but they also might be interested in attacking and forcing Ineos to use some of their lead out men. That would be a clever move, it would leave Ineos a little short in the final 5km and could result in Hayter starting the sprint a little far back.
The GC teams will also get involved in the battle to control the bunch in the final 5km, this is a stage where we could see time gaps. Last time we were here that happened, it wasn’t helped by a small crash in the hairpin bends. With the GC teams nervous, we could see a chaotic end to this stage.
Ethan Hayter – what a performance today, he’s clearly in good form. When at his best, he’s a very hard man to beat. This is a great finish for him, as he can climb very well and has a fast sprint. If he starts the final climb in the top 5, he’ll be impossible to beat. The job for his teammates is to make sure they position him well; it really is the difference between winning and losing.
Quinten Hermans – after his sensational result in Liège, he’ll start this stage full of confidence. He has the kick required to challenge for the win, but I have a concern about the strength of his team, I can’t see him being in a good spot at the foot of the climb.
Dylan Teuns – 1.2km at 7% isn’t hard enough for him to win, but he should be challenging for the top 5 considering his current form.
Sergio Higuita – it’s a very good finish for the little Colombian, he has a real chance of taking the win. Bora have three riders who could win this stage, I would expect them to ride for Higuita, but watch for a late attack by Großschartner. If you cast your mind back to the 2020 Vuelta a Burgos, that’s exactly how he won a similar type of finish.
Dion Smith – the Kiwi has a decent chance in this stage, but like a few other contenders, it’s all about where he starts the final climb.
Paddy Bevin – given the way he was going in Turkey; this is a big chance for Bevin to take another win. He won a grippy uphill finish back in the 2019 Tour Down Under, he does like this type of stage. He’ll need help getting position in the final 3km, hopefully his team can get him near the front of the race, his legs will do the rest.
Quentin Pacher – 3rd in the opening stage of Catalunya, a result that caught my eye. He’s a solid contender for the top 10.
Mikkel Honoré – another who loves an uphill finish. The first part of his season was ruined by illness and crashes, it must have been a hugely frustrating period for him. 11th place in the prologue shows that he’s now moving in the right direction, he’ll see this a big chance. His teammates will likely get him in a great spot for the final 2km, we’ll then see if his current shape is good enough to take the win.
Remi Cavagna – late attack option 1.
Mauro Schmid – late attack option 2.
Everything is pointing to a second stage for Ethan Hayter.