Winter Park > Shall 183.8km
A sprint stage where everyone will be nervous about the wind.
Sunny and temperatures will be around 20 degrees. The wind will be around 25-35km/h and coming from the west. It’s going to be a cagey peloton.
The more people talk about them happening, the less they actually happen, but I can’t help myself. The opening 70km is mainly tailwind, the first major crosswind section comes when the bunch turn left and head north, this comes at km 69. For the next 20km it’s a full-on crosswind of about 35km/h, it will split.
The problem is that the bunch then turn left and it’s a block headwind for the next 65km. Any splits are likely to come back together in this section of the race, then everyone will be getting ready for the final 30km.
Once again, there’s a left turn and then crosswind. Importantly, it remains a crosswind for the rest of the stage, this is the danger zone! We have wide open roads and wind above 35km/h, if we don’t see major splits then I’m done.
With a nervous bunch, crashes are inevitable. I was worried about the state of the roads today, expect to see more punctures, so you need some luck as a puncture at the wrong time means goodbye GC.
Before we see any echelons, there’s a bonus sprint after just 18km of racing, and it comes after a climb of 3.8km at 3.7%. We’ll see if any of the GC riders fancy chasing some seconds.
The final 30km is where I think we’ll see the main action. Sprinters on a team with a GC rider will need to work, everyone will have to ride through and off. We have a few skinny climbers here; this is a nightmare stage for them. Buitrago and Guerreiro are the two big favourites for the overall, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them ride well in the wind. This stage will be a proper test for them.
The final straight is 5km long and crosswind, this will be fun.
Dylan Groenewegen – he finished it off today after his team did a great job all day. Štybar and Mezgec were brilliant in the closing stages. The Dutch sprinter will hope to survive the echelons, especially with a strong team to support. It’s not a surprise that he starts as the big favourite.
Luca Mezgec – of all the riders in the peloton, he’s probably the best in the wind. The Slovenian goes very well in tough conditions, but his chances all depend on what’s happening with Groenewegen. If he gets to sprint, he’ll be challenging for the win.
Max Walscheid – another who’ll like the sound of this stage. He was 3rd today, which was a good start, he’ll hope for better in this stage.
Cees Bol – loves the wind, he’ll expect to make the first echelon. The problem is team support, he’s likely to be all alone, which will make it hard to win.
John Degenkolb – has all the experienced required for this stage. The harder the day, the better he is, it would be great to see him roll back the years and take a win.
Ryan Gibbons – it all depends on the composition of the front group. Gibbons is fast, but he can’t beat someone like Groenewegen in a flat sprint. The South African will hope for a tough day, it will be even better if the little climbers lose time, then he’ll go for bonus seconds at the end.
Søren Wærenskjold – he’s best known as being the under 23 ITT world champion, but the big Norwegian has a decent sprint on him. Standing at a whopping 1.91m, expect to see him dishing out some pain in the wind. He should be challenging for the win in this stage.
Will I go boring or risky? I’ll take a win for Cees Bol; the dude loves the wind.
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