Al Manshiyah > Abu Rakah 159.4km
It’s the same finishing town as last year’s 2nd stage but it’s not the same finish. On first look, it’s easier than the finish where Buitrago won just one year ago.
Sunny, but cooler than in previous days with temperatures struggling to get above 15 degrees. The wind will strengthen throughout the day, eventually getting close to 30km/h.
This is the final 2.3km of the stage, it’s a testy one for the fast men. First up there is 1.1km at 6.8%, then it’s most downhill for the final 1.1km. The climb will certainly be a test for some of the sprinters, not all of them will make it, but a few will hope to still be in the mix for the win. There’s no street view so I can’t look at the road surface, but last year’s finish was on a surface resembling gravel, which made the climb harder than the numbers suggested.
Much of the climb is a strong tailwind, then as the road bends round for the final kilometre, it’s a strong crosswind from the left.
With the final 45km of the stage an exposed crosswind section, it’s another day where the wind will reap havoc in the bunch. The peloton will be reduced by the time the road starts rising to the line.
Teams will look to split the race in the final 50km, it has to happen. Today, some of the GC missed a trick by “letting” Buitrago’s group get back to the front, that can’t be allowed to happen again. The little Colombian looks vulnerable in the wind, it’s up to the others to exploit any weakness he has.
With a fast tempo in the final 50km, there will be tired legs by the time we reach the rise to the line. 1.1km at 6.8% doesn’t sound too bad, but if the pace is fast enough, the bunch will split, and sprinters will drop out the back door. The flat final kilometre will allow some who have hung on to move up the bunch, but with some looking to attack, those who crest the climb near the front will have the best chance of taking the win.
Jonathan Milan – after his win today he said he’d be all in for Buitrago, all I can do is believe him, despite the finishing looking good for him.
Santiago Buitrago – won the similar stage last year but the climb was harder. It started with 1km at 7.2% and then continued for another kilometre at around 6%. The key thing is this climb being shorter, it’s going to be much harder for the climbers to create a serious gap. I still expect him to try, but I don’t think he’ll be successful.
Ruben Guerreiro – he’s in the same boat as Buitrago, but I seem him as a more explosive climber. If anyone is going to get a gap, it would be him, but holding off a group with domestiques will be hard.
Ryan Gibbons – this is a great stage for him. With Formolo and Großschartner to help, he should be able to rely on his teammates to cover the attacks that are likely to come from Guerreiro. UAE will need to ensure that the fast men are put into difficulty, as Gibbons is fast, but he doesn’t have the same top end speed of those who have been challenging in the opening two stages. He’ll have been targeting a win in this stage.
Luca Mezgec – he’s been riding well as Groenewegen’s last man, but this should be a stage for him. Mezgec is an excellent climber, this little hill shouldn’t cause him difficulty, if he’s had a good winter. As it’s too hard for Groenewegen, Jayco should be riding for the Slovenian and will hope he can move back up the bunch in the final kilometre and sprint for the win.
Too hard for most sprinters, but not hard enough for the pure climbers. I’ll take a hybrid rider to take the win.
It’s day for Ryan Gibbons.
You must be logged in to post a comment.