Palmi > Scalea 192km
After today’s excitement, it’s back to a standard sprint stage, this time on the Italian mainland.
This is a great stage for echelons, it’s a shame nobody told the wind. It’s going to be a lovely day for the bunch.
I joke you not, the final turn is with over 100km to go. The road does contain a few bends, but it’s basically a straight road for a very long time. There are a few roundabouts dotted along the way, the final one comes with 3.5km to go.
As only the right-hand side is open, this will be a crucial point for the sprint trains, but there’s still time for some to rescue a poor position. The long straight is a nightmare for sprint trains, it’s very difficult to get right.
Mark Cavendish – his sprint on Sunday was outstanding, it’s a special moment when a sprinter can launch at 300 to go and still win the stage. The preparation work by Ballerini and Mørkøv was something special too, it was a great move to put Ballerini in position 4. The Italian has lots of power, when he accelerates, the other riders in that position cannot keep up. This means that QuickStep will be confident in delivering Cavendish into a great position for the final kilometre, allowing Mørkøv to do what he does best.
Caleb Ewan – had a poorly timed mechanical today, he’s not having much luck in this race. As I mentioned in my stage 5 preview, I don’t think his sprint train has what it takes to rival QuickStep. It takes a lot for a team like Lotto to admit this and change their game plan. I would forget about trying to hit the front, they should focus on getting Ewan on the wheel of Démare or Cavendish and let him do the rest.
Arnaud Démare – he nailed it today, and so did Ramon Sinkeldam. Démare always seems to do well in a reduced sprint, he’ll hope to carry that confidence into this stage. He wasn’t too far behind Cavendish on Sunday; he’ll back himself to take another win.
Fernando Gaviria – close but no cigar, but it’s hard to win sprints without a proper sprint train. He’ll keep trying.
Biniam Girmay – not really been able to open up his sprint in the two opportunities he’s had in this race. His sprint train isn’t the best, which means he’ll have to start his sprint from behind, which increases the chances of getting boxed in.
A sprint finish not out of place in the UAE Tour, I’m not a fan. Ewan’s record in sprints like this isn’t particularly good, that would be a worry for me. I’ll take another win for Mark Cavendish.