Kaposvár > Balatonfüred 201.1km
A stage for the fast men.
Cloudy, with a small risk of rain.
Looks easy, but it isn’t. The road for much of the finale isn’t the widest. We’re talking about a standard two-lane road, but I’ve seen wider, especially considering we’re going to get a bunch sprint. It’s one of those stages where securing a good early position will be important, it’s likely we’ll see the teams at the front block the road until the final 5km.
Mark Cavendish – with Van Lerberghe, Ballerini and Mørkøv to lead him out, Cavendish has a brilliant chance of taking the win. QuickStep have the best lead out train at the race, they are bound to get Cav into a great position to launch his sprint. The presence of Mørkøv is significant, he’s the man with the golden touch. It’s clear that he and Cav have a great understanding, it’s going to be hard for anyone to beat them.
Caleb Ewan – considering how good he is, his record in the opening sprint stage of races is appalling, and I have no idea why. He crashed on Friday, but I doubt that will have any lasting damage, he’ll start this stage with confidence as he did look in great shape in the stage 1. Lotto Soudal had to leave Jasper De Buyst at home, he crashed out the Tour of Turkey and is still recovering. Instead, they arrive with Schwarzmann, Kluge, and Selig to ride in the sprint train, it’s not as strong as Caleb would like. Selig is very strong in position 2, but Kluge and Schwarzmann have a lot of work to do to fight off the power of QuickStep.
Arnaud Démare – he’s got a good, old fashioned sprint train to support him, but it’s been a long time since he’s been fast enough to beat riders like Cavendish and Ewan.
Phil Bauhaus – he’s got piss poor support; he won’t be winning.
Fernando Gaviria – with just Oliveira and Richeze to support, it’s going to be hard for him to win. Saying that, he did just fine in Eschborn-Frankfurt, and he didn’t have much help in the closing kilometres of that race either. The Colombian is a good candidate for the podium, but it’s hard to see him winning.
Biniam Girmay – yet another without a proper sprint train.
Jakub Mareczko – he does have a sprint train, but does he have the legs to finish it off? The little Italian was a late call up for this race, due to Merlier being out injured. With van der Poel, Oldani and Krieger to support him, Mareczko is one of the few sprinters with a proper lead out train, he should be starting the sprint from a good position. He’s not had much success since joining Alpecin-Fenix, but this is a man who’s come very close to winning a stage of the Giro in the past, he shouldn’t be underestimated.
Giacomo Nizzolo – his lead out train is full of big TT riders, he should start the sprint in a good position. We saw on Friday, in the intermediate sprint, that he’s looking fast just now, that’s a good sign heading into this stage. Nizzolo doesn’t have the top end speed to match Cavendish and Ewan, so he needs to start the sprint from a good position. He should be challenging for the podium, but I doubt he can win.
Alberto Dainese – should be challenging for the top 5.
Edward Theuns – it’s great to see Eddie get another chance to sprint in a grand tour, it’s certainly been a while. He only has Mosca and Vergaerde to support, so they’ll have to be crafty in the closing kilometres. If he finishes on the podium, you’ll hear my shouting from Scotland!
Given his lead out, I’ll take a win for Mark Cavendish.