Andratx > Coll de la Creueta 160.7km
It’s the third day of racing over in Mallorca and now we know a little more about the current shape of some of the riders. This race is one for the climbers, thanks to the presence of Puig Major, a mountain that most of the peloton will know well. It will severely reduce the bunch, then we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
Should be the best weather the bunch have had so far in these races. It still won’t be warm, but the sun should be out for a while.
13.7km at 6% is a proper climb, it will hurt at this point of the year. Teams will press on and reduce the peloton, but the size of the group once we get over the crest will determine how the next phase of the race goes.
A tricky uphill finish. Valverde won here last year, if it ends in a “sprint”, you need a big punch to take the win.
Despite not winning on Wednesday, QuickStep had a good day out and showed that many of their riders are currently in good form. The opposite can be said about UAE, they had a disaster with most of their team crashing on the wet roads. Wanty are another squad who’ve impressed in the last couple of days, all three outfits will expect to have men in the front group after Puig Major.
Bora will also hope for a better day than they had on Wednesday, despite having Zwiehoff in the lead group their main cards didn’t have the best legs or lacked a little luck. EF are another squad who’ll hope to be in the mix for the win, they have a couple of talented climbers who’ll enjoy the look of this day.
The type of race we get after Puig Major depends on the composition of the lead group. It’s likely we’ll see UAE and QuickStep have multiple options, but will both squads be happy to control the rest of the race until the final climb? Races at this time of the year don’t often follow the same rules as races later in the season, they can be very unpredictable with teams keen on giving loyal domestiques a chance to shine. Saying that, I hope we get a sprint up the final climb.
QuickStep – Alaphilippe should be the team leader considering the finish. He made the front split on Wednesday, so the legs are clearly good, but he’s not at his very best. Alaphilippe did say that this race caught his eye, he’d love to get an early win, especially after the recent comments of his boss. With Masnada, Vansevenant, Vervaeke and Van Wilder to support, Alaphilippe will be confident of winning.
UAE – as I’ve already said, Wednesday was a very unlucky day for the team, just about every single rider hit the deck. If they are okay, both McNulty and Wellens should be in the mix for the win. Both normally start the season well, and considering the strength of QuickStep, they’ll want to get both men in the front group. The uphill finish also suits both riders, they pack a fast sprint, but probably not as fast as Alaphilippe. Also joining the team for this race is Almeida, we’ll have to wait and see what his form is leg.
Wanty – Rui Costa took an excellent win on Wednesday, and they also had Goossens in the front group. They don’t have a big favourite for the win but expect to see them fighting for the podium.
Bora – they’ll again look to Kämna and Buchmann. Kämna suffered a puncture at a bad time on Wednesday, so I don’t know if he would have been able to go with the front group or not. On paper, this should be a good race for him, he should really be challenging for the win.
Hugh Carthy – he kicked his season off today and he looked nice and strong. I don’t think he’ll have many teammates left in the finale, but I’m hoping to see him at the pointy end.
A first win of the season for Julian Alaphilippe.
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