Izki > Yitti Hills 204km
Another new finish, the Tour of Oman is really spoiling us. At 204km it must be the longest ever Tour of Oman stage. It finishes in the Yitti Hills, which sounds like something you get after eating a dodgy curry. Matteo Jorgenson took a brilliant win today; he now leads the GC and Movistar have a strong team to support him. Will this be another GC day? Will a “sprinter” be able to hang on? Time to take a look.
Another roasting hot day.
The final 13km of the stage features two cat 4 climbs, both look hard enough to me. The first one is 3.1km at 6.2%, but just before the crest there’s a 600m stretch at 12%. This climb was the final hill in the Muscat Classic, but this is coming up the descent. There’s 10km to go from the crest, a solo attack is unlikely to work.
The final 2.5km starts with 860m at 10%, that’s not what the sprinters want to hear. There’s a brief section of flat before the climb kicks up to the KOM point, which comes with around 800m left in the stage. Then the riders do a tight U-turn with around 600 to go and that takes them onto the finishing straight.
This is a tricky finish to get right. Anyone who loses position on the 10% section will not be able to make it back up again, it’s a finish that suits the puncheurs.
Another day with a big finish, I don’t think the break has much of a chance, but you just never know. Let’s start with the blindingly obvious, this is far too hard for Merlier, Cavendish and Ackermann, but is it hard enough to be another GC day?
That’s the question I’m wrestling with, and I think the answer has to be yes. The first of the climbs will sting the legs of those who were up there in the Muscat Classic, then there’s going to be a big fight for the left-hand corner which leads into the final climb. The wall of 10% that faces them for 800m will be sprinted up, and if you fall back into the middle of the peloton, there’s not enough time or space left to move back up and fight for the win.
That means the winner of this stage needs to be able to go up this climb at the head of the bunch, securing a good position for the final two corners, so who does that leave us? The obvious candidates are those who were challenging in Qurayyat, even though that finish was harder than this one. Tactically, it’s pretty simple. You need to be at the head of the bunch for the corner with 2.5km to go, then it’s up to the legs.
Jenthe Biermans – won the Muscat Classic, which is why I’ve included him in this section. However, I think the pace on the final climb will be too much for him.
Andrea Vendrame – I think this finish is within his capabilities. The Italian was 3rd in the Muscat Classic, but he should be able to hold his own on the final climb. If he does manage to keep up there, he’s got the sprint finish required to take the win.
Mauri Vansevenant – 2nd today, the win is getting closer. He’s got a good sprint, better than most of the GC riders, so he’ll fancy his chances of winning this stage. With someone like Jordi Warlop to help guide him into the final climb, he should start it in a good position, he’s definitely one of the men to watch.
Diego Ulissi – another one who’ll look at this finish and lick his lips, it’s his best chance of a win this week. The flat finish is perfect for the Italian, most of his wins have come in a reduced sprint. If his teammates can get him into a good position for the final climb, he’s got the sprint required to take the win.
Maxim Van Gils – faded today, it looked like he didn’t like the heat. This stage is going to be even hotter, so we’ll have to see how he copes. The finish is also good for him, remember he sprinted to 5th place in the Muscat Classic, he’s got a good turn of speed on him.
Jesús Herrada – today’s finish wasn’t for him, but this is much better. He needs to make use of the climb, an attack near the crest is risky but it could be the right move for him. He’s got a good sprint, but some I’ve already mentioned are faster than him.
Matteo Jorgenson – what a performance today, he blew them all away. Movistar have a strong team at this race, Matteo won’t need to cover any moves himself, he can focus on staying at the front on the final climb and trying his luck in the sprint. The other riders mentioned have a better sprint compared to him, but he’ll still try his luck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Axel Zingle – of all the fast finishers, I think he’s got the best chance. I’m thinking back to his win in last year’s Arctic Race and the way he punched up the rise to the line. He’s going to have to use energy staying near the front of the group on the final climb, but I think he’ll back his chances in a finish like this.
Zingle is the worry for all the puncheurs who would like to win this stage. Can they make it too hard for him? The key is the penultimate climb, it needs to be ridden hard.
I’ll take a sprint win for Diego Ulissi.
You must be logged in to post a comment.