Port Willunga > Willunga Township 133.1km
A flat stage which should be one for the sprinters, but everyone will be carefully checking the wind speed.
Sunny and warmer than in previous days, but still not sweltering. The wind is coming from the south-east and will reach around 30km/h, which is strong enough for echelons.
This is the main crosswind section. It is 6.4km in length and as we have a lap circuit the bunch do it twice, but as you can see there’s an awful lot of trees. There are other sections throughout the stage that are better for creating echelons, but they don’t last very long. I sense those who want echelons are going to be left disappointed.
Jayco will try and put UAE under pressure in the wind, even if it’s unlikely anything will happen. Someone like Durbridge is perfect to try and cause some chaos, especially as UAE don’t have too many suited to echelon riding. Once the echelon attempts are over, and probably have failed, the sprint teams will take over from UAE in terms of controlling the rest of the stage. After some exciting stages, this one could be a little on the boring side, but I hope I’m wrong.
It doesn’t look much, but the finish could catch a few out. It’s basically a long straight road, into a strong headwind. With about 2km to go the road starts to rise, although it is gentle at this point, around 2.5%. The road bends to the left with 600 to go, and this is when the gradient starts to rise, but we’re still not talking anything too steep, it’s now between 3% and 4%. Normally sprinters would launch with around 200 to go, but this is when the gradient kicks up almost 6%, so it’s about remaining patient and not starting your sprint too early. Patience is key in this type of finish, as it’s uphill and a cross/headwind.
Caleb Ewan – another finish that suits him well, but his lack of teammates is a concern. Caleb is down to just three pals, and he needs Drizners to be saved for the finale. If the race is going to end in a sprint, other teams will need to get involved chasing the break. If we do get a sprint, Caleb is normally incredibly hard to beat in an uphill sprint. The problem could well be positioning, but as the finish is uphill and into a headwind, it’s often riders who come from a little further back who take the win.
Michael Matthews – Jayco still don’t have a stage win, they’ll be very keen on winning this weekend. This type of finish is a good one for Bling, but he would prefer it to be a little harder. I expect them to try and split it in the wind, a reduced bunch would be even better for Matthews, especially if they can get rid of Ewan, but the wee man is strong in windy conditions. I’m looking forward to seeing how they approach this stage.
Bryan Coquard – loves an uphill kick, it’s his speciality. He’s another who’ll struggle with positioning, he could really do with a big ride from Davide Cimolai. If Coquard is in a good spot when the sprint opens, he’ll finish on the podium.
Kaden Groves – of all the stages this week, this is his best chance of success. Alpecin are one of the teams who’ll ride for a sprint, it’s their best chance of taking a win. Groves has a strong group of riders to support him, hopefully he can get a good position and show what he’s capable of.
Corbin Strong – with Daryl Impey to help in the closing kilometres, I would expect to see Strong competing for the win. He won an uphill sprint in last year’s Tour of Britain. Just like Groves, this is his best chance of the week. He’s looked good throughout this week; a stage win would round off a decent week of racing for him.
Phil Bauhaus – is the finish too hard for him? I doubt it, it only gets up to 6% close to the line. The big German already has a stage win to his name this week, and the team have two, it’s been a good race for Bahrain. He’s got one of the best sprint trains in the race, he’s going to be challenging for another win.
Despite efforts to split the bunch, this will end in a sprint finish.
After going close this week, it’s about time we got a Caleb Ewan win.