2022 Tour of Britain Stage 4 Preview

Redcar > Helmsley 149.3km

For me, this is the Queen stage of the race, but I’m afraid the wind could ruin it. The stage is a short one, just 150km in length, and it contains 2669m of climbing. Those GC riders who have already down 14 seconds on the race lead know that this is the day they need to make count.

Weather

There will be a risk of showers throughout the day and the wind will be around 15-20km/h, coming from the south-east. That means a lot of crosswind as the bunch head west across the moors, but it also means a block headwind for the final 30km, which is bad news for climbers wanting to make the climbs hard. For echelons to happen, the wind needs to strengthen a bit.

Key Points

The first of the cat 1 climbs in the stage is Robin Hoods Bay, it’s a proper little leg breaker. The problem is that it comes with a long way to go in the day, I hope they don’t ride tempo over this one.

The Carlton Bank climb is where the climbers will hope to do some damage as it’s 2km at 9.8%, with a maximum of almost 19%. The climb is straight into the headwind, but it is well protected by trees, and they should stop a lot of the wind from hitting the riders, at least that’s what I hope.

With 10km to go the riders hit Newgate Bank Climb, it doesn’t have any KOM points at the top, but it does have 3, 2 and 1 bonus seconds to fight for. From the crest there is just over 8km to go, most of which is downhill but still into a headwind.

Tactics

The headwind in the finale will hopefully encourage some teams to kick the action off nice and early. Today we saw the big teams looking to get involved in the morning break, the start of this stage does encourage attacking racing, it could be very chaotic, especially as WiV SunGod are in the race and they can’t control the hilly start, I sense a crazy start to the stage.

I’m hoping that teams look at the headwind in the finale and decide to make this a full gas day from the start, the length of stage does lend it to that approach. All the world tour teams have multiple GC options to play, could we see a large break form at the start and go all the way to the finish? 

Corbin Strong has a 14 second advantage to almost all the GC riders, Jake Stewart is 8 seconds behind him, so he has 6 seconds to the others, the headwind in this stage plays into the hands of the quick men who can climb. Therefore, those who don’t have a sprint, have to make it a hard stage and not wait for everything to come back together once the headwind strikes. I think there’s a big chance of a strong group getting away and going to the finish, but it needs to contain representation from the world tour teams.

Contenders

Ineos – they have Sheffield, Fraile and Pidcock as their options. Pidcock has a faster finish than most, he should be their option in a reduced group, but there’s no guarantee the stage goes that way. Sheffield interests me, he’s currently going like a dream and has the TT engine required to hold off a chasing group, even into a headwind. I expect to see Ineos ride a very attacking race, and not simply wait for the last two climbs.

Israel – Corbin Strong is in a good position, but the cat 1 climbs should be too hard for him, it’s time for Teuns and Woods to step forward. Both are excellent on climbs around 10%, they really should be better than everyone else in a stage like this. The headwind is bad news, but I still hope to see them attack the Carlton Bank climb. As the final metres of the stage are a little uphill, Teuns will fancy his chances in a sprint, if the likes of Pidcock and Stewart aren’t there. 

Bora – the climbs should be too hard for Politt, this stage should be for Felix Großschartner. The Austrian champion is looking better than he did back in Germany, and he packs a good punch for a climber. He’s likely to find himself outnumbered by teams with two options, so winning this one will be tricky.

Jake Stewart – he’s climbing very well just now, and the headwind in the finale plays right into his hands. He’s got a little gap on most of his GC rivals, so he doesn’t have to do anything daft, it’s about trying to follow on the steep climbs. His recent performances make me think he could survive, but it won’t be easy.

Matteo Jorgenson – that first win is coming; I can feel it in my bones. He’s one of the few riders who relish wet conditions. If the weather is like today, he’ll be smiling. Movistar could do with a good result as they are in danger of being pulled into the relegation zone, they’ll be hoping that Jorgenson has a good day and fights for the win.

Prediction Time

Surely the big times must animate the race early due to the headwind in the finale. I’ll take a win from a small group for Dylan Teuns.

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