Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex > Qurayyat 174.2km
After today’s sprint win for Tim Merlier, the race ends for the hills and the well-used finish at the top of that little hill in Qurayyat. Last time we were here, Anthon Charmig took the win with an excellent burst of pace, who’ll be successful this time round?
Another warm day with lots of sunshine.
I would put this in the harder than it looks, category. Each time we’ve been here, the climb has been selective, and we’ve seen gaps between the best GC riders. You’re talking about a 20 second gap between the winner and the rider in 20th place.
What makes the climb hard is the way they smash up it. A team will come to the front and basically sprint up the climb until the domestiques are all done, then we’ll see who wants to attack. A pure climber doesn’t normally win this stage, they lack the explosivity required to get a gap, but Hirt did come close last year.
Everyone wants the same thing, a sprint up the final hill, so that’s what we’ll get. I’m looking at the start list and trying to work out who’ll be the team setting pace on the final hill, and I really don’t know who’ll take up the mantle. The problem is that teams like Bora and UAE have multiple protected riders, they don’t have many domestiques who can do that job.
It doesn’t matter that I can’t work it out, someone will do this job. The important thing for anyone wanting to win the stage, is to be near the front once we hit the climb, you don’t want to be stuck behind a rider who starts to go backwards. A position near the front also means you can respond to the attacks which will come in the final kilometre. It’s all about the fight into the foot of the climb, that is key, the rest is up to the legs.
Alexey Lutsenko – won this stage back in 2019, he’ll start the day as the favourite to take the win. I love watching Luts on climbs like this, he gets on top of a huge gear and grinds his rivals into dust. We all know he starts the season in fine form, we’ll have to see if anyone can match him when he throws in his attack.
Matteo Jorgenson – a good opportunity to take his first professional win. Some of you might be aware that I’m a big fan of the American, I make no effort to hide that. Putting my natural bias to one side, this is a good finish for him. Each year he improves his climbing ability, and he’s another who starts the season in good form. If he starts the climb in a good position, he’ll be one of the men to beat.
Jan Hirt – as I’ve already mentioned, he came close here last year, getting caught in the closing metres by Charmig. Hirt is a pure climber, he would normally favour longer climbs, but last year showed that he cannot be written off in this stage. He’s one who’ll want the pace to be very high on the climb.
Diego Ulissi – a very typical Ulissi type of finish. He’s the one who has the kick required to gap his rivals but needs to hang tough when the pace starts to rise. UAE will have both Ulissi and Formolo in the mix, they’ll hope to walk away with the win.
Giovanni Aleotti – Bora have several options for this stage, the Italian is arguably their best chance due to his sprint finish. I’ve been waiting for his pro career to properly kick off, aside from wins in the Sibiu Tour, it’s not quite worked out for him yet. Winning here would be a great start to the season.
Jesús Herrada – was 2nd to Lutsenko here in 2019, It’s a climb that suits him. His early season form hasn’t been that impressive, but he was better in the Muscat Classic. To win against some of the riders already mentioned, he’ll need to be on a great day.
Maxim Van Gils – I still don’t know what to make of Van Gils, but I think I’m slowly starting to work him out. I think he’s the surprise package for this stage, he’s got a good punch.
A first professional win for Matteo Jorgenson.
You must be logged in to post a comment.