Saint-Amand-Montrond > La Loge des Gardes 164.5km
It’s day 4 and the wind has decided to join the party.
A bit grey, a bit rainy and very windy. If forecasts are to be believed, the first half of the stage could see the wind gust up to 50km/h, with a constant around 30km/h.
The roads aren’t as exposed as in the opening two stages, but there are enough sections to get the echelon police ready for action. The first 80km of the stage is where splits can happen, then the bunch head into the trees and the wind weakens. Will we see echelons? Yes and no. Yes, they’ll be echelons, but no it won’t be on TV.
A new climb to look at. La Loge des Gardes is 6.5km at 7.1%, that’s hard enough for gaps on GC, but not huge ones. The damage done will depend on how hard the rest of the stage is, the harder the stage, the bigger the gaps.
Who has the team to split the race? Jumbo-Visma, Soudal – Quick Step and Trek-Segafredo look the strongest in the wind, but the Belgians don’t really have an option considering the finish, but they might still decide to get involved. Jumbo-Visma must see this as an opportunity to put Pogačar under pressure, their team is better suited to these conditions. Now, dropping Pogačar will be incredibly difficult, but they have to try. Trek-Segafredo will be more than happy to get involved, this could be a great day for Mattias Skjelmose, he’s already shown this year he’s excellent when riding in an echelon.
What happens on the final climb depends on how big the front group is. If we have a sizeable group, the climb will be controlled, and attacks will come at the end. The smaller the group, the earlier the action will kick off. The climb isn’t the hardest in the world, it wouldn’t normally end someone’s GC hopes, but the wind will take care of that.
Tadej Pogačar – such incredible form just now, dropping him in the wind will be very difficult. He’ll be assisted by Oliveira, Bjerg, Trentin and Wellens all of whom can hold their own in tough conditions. Given the way he’s been sprinting, I don’t see anyone being able to beat him in the final 500m, it’s up to his team to make sure they control the final climb and set him up for a big finish.
Jonas Vingegaard – Jumbo-Visma to go full gas in the opening half of the stage and see if they can either drop Pogačar or isolate him. Vingegaard showed in Gran Camiño that he is going well just now; I think we’re all excited about a potential battle on the final climb.
Simon Yates – hands up if you’re worried about him in the wind?
David Gaudu – another who could suffer in the wind, he’ll need to try and jump in Küng’s pocket. He’s in good current form, and has an excellent sprint, he’ll hope to be in the mix for the win.
Mattias Skjelmose – I’m excited to see what he can do in this stage. The young Dane has already impressed this season, but can he do it against the very best? A tough stage will help, he’s brilliant in windy conditions. A top 5 finish would be amazing against some of the best climbers in the world.
Dani Martínez – another climber who goes well in tough conditions, if it splits, he’ll be in the front group. Winning will be tough, but you just never know how these stages will go.
Matteo Jorgenson – another young rider who’s impressed this season. This is a stage where his big shoulders will come in handy, try pushing him out the way. He’s climbing well, fingers crossed he can challenge for the top 5.
Nelson Powless – amazing form, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go early on the final climb and see what happens.
Anything can happen, these stages are hard to predict, it could be chaos…
An inevitable win for Tadej Pogačar.
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