Rives > Gap 196.4km
The final sprint stage of the race, but will we see another sprint? There is 2757m of climbing in the day and finishing in Gap will give the break hope, we’ve seen plenty of breakaway success in this town.
Lots of sunshine and a nice tailwind for much of the stage.
This is the cat 2 climb which crests with 58km to go, it’s not a hill that Dylan Groenewegen will want to see. 9.2km at 4.5% is currently far too hard for him, all it will take is a slight increase in the pace to put him out the back door.
The final 8km is interesting, there a couple of short hills which is perfect for someone to launch an attack on. Inside the final 2km things get a little technical, thanks to some roundabouts. The first of which comes with just 1.5km to go, and only the right-hand side will be open, which makes things very narrow.
Just inside the flamme rouge comes the next roundabout, which has both sides open, and they look the same length to me. Then with 500 to go comes another roundabout, but this isn’t mentioned in the roadbook. I assume this means that the barriers will be up, and the bunch will head down the right-hand side, which isn’t particularly wide. If we get a sprint, you need to be at the front with 2km to go.
Who is going to control this stage? In the other sprint stages, we’ve seen Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange ride to control the break, then Trek-Segafredo or Ineos have taken over to push the pace on the climbs and drop Groenewegen. BikeExchange have one chance left to win a stage, but will they really look at this route and think Dylan has a chance of winning? It’s been good to see them backing their sprinter, but a little realism is required at this point in the race.
Jumbo-Visma won’t be chasing for the stage win, it’s not up to them anymore as they already have two wins. The only reason they’ll attempt to chase the break is if they are in danger of losing the yellow jersey, which should rule out anyone within 2 minutes of Van Aert. Ineos are the other contenders to chase the break, even though Hayter isn’t going to beat Van Aert in a sprint.
With few teams looking to chase down the break, the whole bunch will sense a chance of getting a stage win, which makes the fight for the break likely to last for a while. We could see the move form on the first categorised climb of the day, or it could go on the flat in the opening 40km, nobody knows. What we do know is that many riders will want to be in it, if you can’t climb big mountains, this is your last chance to win a stage.
Wout Van Aert – does anyone dare take him to the line? Surely not, it’s clear he’s the fastest by a considerable distance. If it does somehow end in a sprint, Laporte will be able to guide him through the roundabouts and the Belgian champion will take another win.
QuickStep – given the GC position, they should look towards Cavagna, Devenyns, Steimle and Honoré. All these guys are quality riders and can make the break on the flat or on the climbs.
Filippo Ganna – if Ineos aren’t going to ride for a sprint, expect to see them try to make the move. Ganna clearly has great legs, and given the flat start, he has the engine required to make the break.
Nils Politt – form is good, he’s always a threat when in a break. His recent win in Germany will have given him confidence, he’ll be trying to make the move.
Valentin Madouas – another rider who’ll be trying for the break.
Nick Schultz – free Schultz, please don’t ride for Groenewegen.
Thibault Guernalec – has a big engine, perfect to try and make the move. Arkéa are enjoying a fine season, a win in the Dauphiné would be amazing for the team.
Harry Sweeny – he’s one I’ve been keeping my eye on in the last few weeks, I think a win isn’t far away.
I’d be amazed if anyone chased this break down, but strange things often happen in cycling. I’m hoping to see QuickStep get numbers in the break and Mikkel Honoré to take the win.