Orihuela > Altea 188.5km
If a team has brought a sprinter to this race, this is their only hope of taking a win, but will they hang on over the climbs?
Sunny, 11 degrees and not much wind.
First up is the Rates. The opening 7km averages 5.4%, and it’s a climb that every pro knows well. The climb continues to roll along for another 7km, but the first half is where the legs hurt.
The Bernia climb can be split into two, with a short flat in the middle. First up, 4km at 5.3%, then 3.5km at 5.1%. There’s a plateau at the top before the descent starts, that’s horrible for the sprinters.
That’s two climbs of around 7km at 5% in quick succession, I’m struggling to see how any of the sprinters hang on if the pace is lifted.
Bahrain have made no secret of declaring they’re going all in for a Fred Wright win, so how do they ensure that happens? Well, they need to go very hard on the climbs and drop Kooij, Kristoff and Girmay. It should be easy enough to get rid of Kooij and Kristoff, but Bini is the problem.
If they don’t manage to drop him on the climbs, they need to destroy his sprint train and try to dent his sprint a little. Remember, the climbs are as hard as the riders want to make it. Bahrain has a team full of excellent climbers, if they want to, they can really put the pressure on and seriously reduce the bunch.
The stage should end in a bunch, but the size of the peloton will be critical in terms of who’ll take the win.
Very straight! Timing is difficult in this type of finish, don’t hit the front too early.
Olav Kooij – he looks vulnerable to me. I’m surprised Jumbo-Visma brought him here and not Algarve, I see him using this race as training.
Biniam Girmay – started off with a 3rd and 2nd place in Mallorca, it was a decent start. You can already see his relationship with Teunissen starting to develop. He knows that Bahrain will try and test him in this stage, we’ll see if he’s up to the challenge.
Alexander Kristoff – not for me, he’ll get dropped on the climbs.
Fred Wright – I’m looking forward to seeing what Bahrain have up their sleeve. The team have grown over the last few years and can now be described as one of the best in the world. With the likes of Caruso, Mäder and Landa to push on the climbs, they could really do some damage. Wright went very close to winning in 2022, I think we’re all looking forward to him claiming his first pro win, and to do it so early in the season would be perfect.
Movistar – they’ll probably go for García, but Aranburu could be an option. García’s move to Movistar has not been a success, but he did show some form at the tail end of 2022. He’ll hope to push on and try to get back to his best in 2023.
You don’t make it on to my riders to watch in 2023 list without being a talent.
I’ll take a first pro win for Fred Wright.
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