Valbroye > Valbroye 165km
It’s not hard enough to be a proper GC day, but the finale of the stage is tough enough to see some gaps between the top riders. We’re not talking anything hugely significant, but enough to hurt someone’s GC ambitions. I’m hoping for lots of attacks in the final 20km.
Cloudy, but quite mild for this time of year.
We have two categorised climbs in the final 20km of the race, perfect for those who want to attack. The first one is 4.6km at 4.7%, which is then followed by a fast descent. The next climb is 4.3km at 4.6%, but it does start with a very steep section. From the crest there is just 7.7km to go, 5.5 of which is a fast downhill.
The break has a decent chance of winning this stage, it’s not hard enough for the GC teams to really get involved, but you can never guarantee this. The opening 30km is lumpy, it’s a nice start for those who want to try and jump in the break. If there isn’t a GC threat in the move, I don’t think Jumbo-Visma will be too bothered chasing it down. They’ll likely put a man on the front to keep the gap at a respectable level, but other teams will have to help them if they want to set up a big finish.
Ineos seem a likely contender, this stage is well within the capabilities of Ethan Hayter. Today was a great example of what the team can do, when they commit to an outcome, they usually achieve success. The issue in this stage is two climbs in the final 20km, they won’t have as many domestiques left to chase if we see big attacks from the peloton.
We will see big attacks from the peloton? It’s a certainty. The final two climbs don’t look like much, but remember, the climbs in Romandie are always harder than they appear. The initial slopes of the final climb are double-digit, this is where some of the punchy GC riders will make their move.
Given the way Vlasov is currently sprinting, Bora will be interested in trying to chase down any late moves. If they can drop Hayter, then the Russian will have a big chance of taking the win.
Ethan Hayter – there’s “only” 2590m of climbing in this stage, that’s fine for the young Englishman. We saw today that Ineos are very strong, but given the position of the climbs, they won’t have as many men to control the closing kilometres. They must also look to protect Geraint Thomas, which could leave them a little light on the final climb, but it all depends on how the race is ridden. If Hayter is still in the front group in the final 5km, expect to see lots of attacks, no one will want to go to the line with him.
Dylan Teuns – form is currently amazing, but the flat finish makes it hard for him to take a second stage.
Quinten Hermans – given the way he was climbing in Liège; this stage won’t give him a sleepless night. The problem is his team, they aren’t very strong, which will make it very hard for him to win.
Mikkel Honoré – despite only just returning from illness, he’s already looking in good form. Mikkel has a fast finish on him, he’ll be happy if we get a reduced sprint.
Paddy Bevin – another rider who’ll want the climbs to be raced, in the hope of dropping Hayter. He’s not threatened yet in this race, but it’s only a matter of time before we see him challenging for the win.
UAE – they seem to have an embarrassment of riches for this stage, with Hirschi, McNulty and Ayuso all candidates for the win. Hirschi’s form seems to be growing nicely, I sense he isn’t far off his best. McNulty seems to be fine after crashing hard in Liège, and Ayuso has a fast finish on him. With three options, it means the team can attack in the closing stages and put pressure on everyone else.
Rohan Dennis – already has two second places, can he land his first European win for Jumbo-Visma? I’m looking at the final 2km, he’s exactly the type of rider who can jump and solo to win.
Aleksandr Vlasov – the man who can do everything! 4th in today’s sprint, and he wasn’t far off the podium either. Current form is brilliant, and if Bora can use their resources correctly, he has a great chance of taking the win.
Mauro Schmid – watch for him attacking on the final climb.
Remi Cavagna – breakaway hopeful number 1. Even though he’s close on GC, Jumbo-Visma won’t be bothered if he gets in the break.
Johan Jacobs – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Andrey Amador – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Ben Healy – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Will Operation Drop Hayter be successful? I think everyone knows the likely answer is no, so I’m going for a breakaway win. I’ll take a win for Remi Cavagna.