2022 Tour of Poland Stage 3 Preview

Krasnik > Przemysł 237.6km

This finish was brought in last year, and it provided an exciting battle with Almeida taking the win from Ulissi and Mohorič. This year the finish is the same, but the organisers have increased the distance up to 238km. We’ll have to wait and see if the extra distance has any impact, I’m not so sure, as most of the day should be ridden at an easy tempo. 

Weather

Nice enough temperatures throughout the day. The wind is coming from the north-west, and as the riders are heading south for much of the day, we do have crosswind sections throughout the stage. As much of the route is well protected from the elements, I don’t think we’ll see serious splits, but QuickStep tried today, so we’ll have to wait and see if anyone wants to spice up the stage.

The Climbs

This is the second climb of the day, and it should start the finale of the race. 2km at 9.5% is the toughest climb of the day, it crests with 30km to go, so it should be used to slim the bunch down.

Straight after the descent off the previous climb comes the next one, but this time it’s 2.5km at 6.7%, but I don’t think we’ll see any moves from the main contenders.

The finish is a proper wall. Last year we saw significant gaps between the top 10 riders, I expect something similar here. The climb is 1.5km at 8.6%, it then levels off for the finish. 

Tactics

All eyes will be on Ineos, as they have the strongest team in the race. I would expect them to take charge early in the stage, making sure the breakaway is well under control. Given the type of riders they have, I expect them to look to set up a big finish on the wall climb up to the line. Teams like UAE and Bora will also be happy with this scenario, they might lend a hand to the chase, such a long stage will need more than one team working on the front.

Once we hit the climbs, those who know they can’t cope with the final wall have to attack. I’m thinking of someone like Remi Cavagna. If he can limit his losses in this stage, he can use the TT to make up ground and threaten the race lead. The big teams will need to be very careful; they can’t allow “free” time to someone who could threaten in the TT.

I think this means we’ll see the race all together for the final climb, this is when Ineos need to use their numbers. They have Carapaz, Hayter and Tulett as strong options for this stage, one of them should attack at the foot of the climb forcing others to chase. This will allow the other two Ineos riders a free ride up the climb, hopefully allowing them to save energy before kicking nearer the top. All of this sounds easy, but to win on a climb like this you need great legs, multiple options give an advantage, but you need the power to finish it off.

Contenders

Richard Carapaz – he’s finished in the top 10 in Flèche Wallonne, so this isn’t a hill that’s going to scare him. Carapaz is one of the riders who’ll enjoy the length of the stage, he performs well at the end of a long day. Of the three Ineos options, he’s got the worst TT, I wonder how this will impact how he rides this stage? Given his track record, I think he’ll start as the favourite to win the stage.

Ethan Hayter – he tends to grind up climbs like this. Back in last year’s Tour of Britain, he finished just 8 seconds behind Van Aert and Alaphilippe in the Great Orme stage. That climb is 1.9km at 9.4%, it’s harder than the one in this stage. With the TT to come, Hayter knows that he can take significant time on his rivals, he doesn’t need to win this stage, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him challenging for the win. He can grind out a huge amount of power while staying seated, perfect for a finish like this.

Ben Tulett – he’ll likely be the third option for Ineos, but sometimes attacking early is the right way to go. He goes well on steep climbs, he was 12th in last year’s Flèche Wallonne, on debut. Team tactics will decide his role in this stage, hopefully he has some freedom.

Diego Ulissi – 2nd last year when it looked like he was going to win. The Italian is very good on wall climbs, he’s made a career out of winning stages like this. This year hasn’t been one of his best, but he cannot be written off due to his record in stages like this.

Mauro Schmid – the young Swiss rider is one who’s enjoyed a fine season. He took an early win in Coppi Bartali, before going very close to a stage win in the Giro and followed that up by winning the Belgium Tour. This is a stage that suits his characteristics, and as the team also have Mauro Vansevenant, they have multiple options for the finish. I expect Schmid to be one of the men challenging for the win.

Pello Bilbao – was involved in the crash in the opening stage, so I don’t know how he’ll perform in this stage.

Sergio Higuita – he’ll start as one of the big favourites for this stage, the Colombian loves a punchy finish. 2022 has been a fine year for him, his move to Bora has already been an overwhelming success. This finish is a very good one for him, but he must be a little worried about Ineos. He knows they’ll have the numerical, which puts him at a disadvantage, but he’ll hope that Aleotti will hang around and help him to cover moves. He’ll fancy his chances of beating Carapaz on this hill.

Thymen Arensman – he’s had a very good season; it looks like he’ll be heading to Ineos next year. This is the first year he’s done the Giro, so he won’t really know what to expect from his legs in this part of the season. If he’s on form, he’ll be challenging for the top 5, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be at the level required to be up there.

Quinten Herman – he should have gone to the Tour, but wasn’t selected as he looks to be leaving the team. I’m not sure where his head is at just now, but this is a good finish for him.

Prediction Time

Given the three options they have, Ineos must win this one. I’ll take a win for Ethan Hayter.

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