Durbuy > Durbuy 172.4km
The Queen stage in the Belgium Tour, and what a stage! I’m a sucker for a good lap circuit, this one isn’t good, it’s amazing. With over 3000m of climbing, this is going to be a great test for those ahead of the Tour de France. After the TT, Mads Pedersen is in the race lead, will he still be at the end of this day?
Roasting hot, temperatures could hit 34 degrees.
The bunch do four laps of this little beauty, there is no flat road, always up or down. In terms of climbing, we have Côte de Petite Somme (900m at 9.2%), Côte de Bende (1.8km at 4.3%), Côte de Hermanne (2.2km at 5.6%), Côte Grand Houmart (900m at 7.4%) and Mur de Durbuy (500m at 11%). This will make life very difficult for those who aren’t the best climbers, it is a very challenging parcour.
Trek-Segafredo are in control of the race lead, they are going to come under fire in this stage, it’s one where not being in the lead is much easier. They are one man light compared to some of the other teams, and most of their squad aren’t great on the hills. It’s more than likely we’ll see Pedersen isolated as we approach the final lap. Mads was very impressive in the opening stage, but I don’t think he’ll survive this stage, there’s too much climbing, especially as he’s been focusing on sprinting and TTs. So, if it’s not a day for him, how does that impact the stage?
All eyes are on QuickStep, Lotto Soudal and Wanty, this is their stage. QuickStep have the riders to make it tough, and they have a rider who has the climbing ability to cope with all the hills. Lotto Soudal are in a similar position, they’ll lift the pace and try to slim the bunch down, then it’s over to Campenaerts and Wellens to finish the job off. Wanty have several options, most of whom have a fast finish, but can they get over all the climbs? Whatever type of race these teams want, is exactly the type of race we’ll get.
Mauro Schmid – a very good stage for the young Swiss rider. He climbs very well, and packs a real punch, perfect for this stage. He’ll have the likes of Lampaert and Sénéchal to support him deep into the stage, then he’ll open up the throttle on the steep climbs. He sits 28 seconds down on Pedersen, but I don’t think that’s a problem for him. He’ll have one eye on Tim Wellens, as he’s 4 seconds behind him on GC. With bonus seconds on the line, and the golden kilometre to deal with, there are plenty of opportunities to gain the time required to move into the race lead.
Tim Wellens – he started the season in great form but struggled to produce his best during the spring months. Thankfully, he now seems to be hitting a good period of form, his second place in the opening stage caught my eye, as did his TT. The climbs in this part of the world are perfect for him, this is a big chance for him to win the stage and take the race lead.
Quinten Hermans – if you can finish second in Liège, you can cope with the climbs in this stage. Hermans continues to improve as a road cyclist, and the good news is I think he’s still got a lot more in the tank. Wanty are currently riding the crest of a wave, and confidence is a huge part of professional cycling. Hermans will hope to challenge for the win, he has a very fast uphill sprint, something that Wellens and Schmid should be worried about.
Mark Donovan – it’s been great to see him attacking this week, the form is clearly good. You might have him pegged as a mountain goat, but Donovan is capable of more than that. Coming from the north-west of England, he’s more than used to the punchy hills in this stage, he’s one of who has a real chance of surprising the big names already mentioned.
Sep Vanmarcke – is it too hard for him? He doesn’t seem to be at his best just now, I don’t think he’ll be challenging for the win.
Kévin Vauquelin – I’ve been keeping my eye on him for a while now, and I like what I see. He seems to be able to do a bit of everything, a real jack of all trades. He has the climbing ability to cope with the hills in this stage, I hope to see him in the front group fighting for the win.
Mads Pedersen – this is going to be a very complicated stage for him. Trek don’t have the climbers to control this stage, if Pedersen becomes isolated, the race will become a tactical nightmare. On paper, he can cope with the amount of climbing in the stage, he’s won races with more climbing than this. He would have a better chance if he wasn’t the race leader, I think the others will lean on him.
I see this as a fight between Schmid and Wellens, they should be the strongest riders on the day. I don’t think they’ll be much in it, I’ll take a win for Tim Wellens.
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