Hawick > Duns 174.8km
A day spent in the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders. There’s 2457m of climbing, the final 30km of the day has just about one quarter of all the climbing contained within. This hard finish, which features two cat 3 climbs, will test the climbing legs of the sprinters.
The rain should pass before the stage starts, so the riders should spend the day in cloudy sunshine and temperatures will be just above 20 degrees. The wind is coming from the south-east and will be a constant worry throughout the stage, as there’s lots of crosswind sections. Looking at it closely, I don’t think we’ll see splits.
The final 30km is rolling, with lots of little kickers to sap the legs. Two of the climbs are categorised, there’s Wanside Rigg (3.85km at 4.2%) and Mainslaughter Law (1.6km at 6.3%) but there’s also an unclassified climb of 2.2km at 4.5% which crests with just 5km to go, and the start of this is a very fast descent into town.
Once the climbs are dealt with, the final corner comes with 1.2km to go, and there is a little rise up the finishing line.
Once over the Wanside Rigg climb, with 24km to go, the riders turn left and it’s a headwind until the flamme rouge. This should ensure a relatively big bunch at the finish, but the final unclassified climb is going to be very important, as those who want to win the stage need a position near the front of the peloton for the fast descent. Those too far back will find it very hard to move back up the bunch, so this finish should suit sprinters who can climb a bit.
Jake Stewart – this is a great stage for him, the climbs in the final 30km should take the sting out the legs of the pure sprinters, allowing Jake to challenge for the win. He recently took his first pro win, a great moment for him. Then it was bad news, he had to abandon his Vuelta debut due to sickness, but that has allowed him to race here. With Sam Watson to lead him out, he should start the sprint from a good position, then we’ll see if he can grab another win.
Cees Bol – it’s not been a season to remember for the DSM sprinter, his best result was 4th in stage 2 of the Tour of Turkey. It seems very likely that he’ll be leaving the team at the end of the year, this is the right thing to do as it’s clear he’s not progressing the way he should be. Bol climbs well for a tall man, he should make the finish, and hopefully challenge for his first win of the season.
Stanisław Aniołkowski – the Polish sprinter will fancy his chances of challenging for the win. His season has been sprinkled with decent results, but he’s yet to take a win. Bingoal don’t win often, they’ll be hoping Aniołkowski can start this race with a bang.
Jordi Meeus – on paper, he’s the fastest sprinter in the race. He crashed hard in the Tour of Poland TT, it looked a nasty one at the time. This is his first race back, so his chances of success will depend on how much time he had to take off his bike. Bora lost Marco Haller today, he crashed with a motorbike and is now out of the race, which is a big loss for them.
Rasmus Tiller – he’s another who crashed in the Tour of Poland, but he’s had a number of races in the legs since then. The final 30km of the stage should suit the big Norwegian, especially the uphill sprint. When he gets on top of his big gear, he goes very fast.
Tom Pidcock – I have no idea what went on today. Pidcock started as the overwhelming favourite for the stage, but was found at the back of the peloton as they started the climb. Then, he was off the back and behind the medical car (he stopped for a pee) before moving his way up the bunch and sprinting to 5th. Technically speaking, this is another good stage for him, but I’m not sure he’ll be going for it.
Rory Townsend – the fastest of the British Conti riders, the Irish champion should be capable of challenging for the top 5.
The climbs in the final 30km will do some damage, I think we’ll have a slightly reduced bunch sprint. Looking at how he finished today, I’ll take a win for Jake Stewart.