Tomblaine > La Super Planche des Belles Filles 176.1km
The first mountaintop finish of the race, with the finish on Super Planche des Belles Filles. Last time we were here it was 2019 and Dylan Teuns beat Giulio Ciccone in an intense sprint, taking a huge win from the break. Back in the GC group, Geraint Thomas was the first home, but only a handful of seconds separated the top climbers. This isn’t a stage where the yellow jersey will be won, but it’ll still be great to watch. Will the break take another win?
Nice and sunny.
Tough, especially the unpaved section at the end. As the stage is easy, there will be lots of domestiques to control the lower slopes of the climb, which should stop any of the big names from attacking. Once we hit the unpaved section, that’s when we’ll see the main contenders start to show what they’ve got.
The start of the stage is flat, which is a nightmare for skinny climbers who want to make the break. It’s still possible, but it needs help from bigger teammates and some luck. Given what happened today, it’s likely the break will take a long time to form, those with a big engine will be the most likely to be in it. However, in these stages, it always amazes me to see some climbers manage to sneak away, it’s a bit of an art form.
UAE are now in control of the jersey, but are they wanting to chase the break and set up another stage for Pogačar? I mean, it’s a pretty easy stage to control, as long as they ensure the break isn’t huge, UAE are capable of chasing the break down and setting up another win for their main man. If they don’t chase, will another GC team do their dirty work? Ineos, Bora and Jumbo-Visma will still have hope of winning the stage but beating Pogačar doesn’t look very likely just now. It’s a day where UAE will decide the type of stage we get, but will they want to give away yellow? We are still a long way from Paris, they could decide to let yellow go to another team in order to save the legs of their domestqiues. We’ll have to wait and see.
Tadej Pogačar – he looks unstoppable just now, if the break gets caught, he will win.
Mattia Cattaneo – exactly the type of rider who would be allowed to move into yellow. Yes, he’s a good climber, but he’s not a genuine threat in the high mountains.
Bauke Mollema – a master at sneaking into a break on the flat, he has the experienced required to sniff out the right move, just at the right time. The Giro was disappointing for him, but I sense he’s got the legs to win a stage in the next two weeks.
Stefan Küng – if the break is full of rouleurs, and not climbers, someone like Küng would have a great chance of taking the win. He climbed brilliantly in the Tour de Suisse, but it does depend on him making the break and it not containing climbers.
Ben O’Connor – he’s now 7 minutes down on GC, that means he’ll start targeting the breaks. He’ll need help to make the move, but he’s got a full team to support him.
Geoffrey Bouchard – teammate of O’Connor, but now that GC is out of the picture, he should have freedom to chase some glory. Despite being a skinny climber, he’s very good at making breaks.
Ion Izagirre – way down on GC and now targeting stages.
Ruben Guerreiro – arrived here with amazing legs but crashed hard in Denmark. I’m not sure he’s ready to go for the win.
Giulio Ciccone – came very close to winning here back in 2019, he’s another brilliant climber way down on GC.
Pierre Latour – another excellent climber who is way down on GC.
I think UAE will be keen on letting the break take the win and letting yellow go to someone else. Making the break will be incredibly difficult, it’s going to take legs and an awful lot of luck. I’ll take a stage win for Giulio Ciccone and Matteo Cattaneo to move into yellow.