Tourves > La Colle-sur-Lou 197.1km
A stage that many will look at and think breakaway, but there are a few fast men who’ll hope that it all comes back together. Technically speaking, 2674m of climbing is within the capabilities of many fast men, but will they cope with the finale?
Blowing a gale! At points, the wind could well go over 50km/h. Most of the route is well protected by trees, but the wind speed will make for a nervous bunch. There’s a lot of cross/tailwind throughout the day, it will make the break hard to catch. Hopefully the forecast isn’t entirely accurate as it sounds far too dangerous to ride a bike.
This is the final categorised climb of the day. 2.7km at 8.7% is tough, but it’s harder than the numbers suggest. The maximum gradient is over 21%, it really is a brut of a hill.
This comes with 22km to go, and it has a bonus sprint at the top. From the crest, it’s downhill almost all the way to the line. Perfect for those pesky late attackers.
Not easy! The final 500m averages 6.6%, which is borderline for the sprinters who climb well.
Who wants to control the breakaway? The start of the stage doesn’t scream break to me, but it depends on the attitude of the peloton. The finish is too hard for Merlier and Bennett, that’s two teams who won’t chase the break, they’ll want to be in it. Pedersen and De Lie will fancy their chances of competing to win this stage, the onus will likely be on them to do the chasing.
Those teams who want a sprint will need to do a good job in the opening kilometres, they can’t allow a group of strong riders to get up the road. With a very strong wind at the back, it’s not going to be easy to chase down the morning move, especially with only a handful of teams willing to do the chasing. The big problem is with just two or three teams looking to control, it’s not easy to get the right break going up the road.
If the break does get chased down, the final categorised climb is a danger point as it has a ridiculously steep section. Climbers will attack here, not everyone will be waiting for a sprint. So, teams who chase the break will need to get as many men as possible in reserve for the final 30km, otherwise they’ll see a group of late attackers spoil their day.
Then I’ve got to consider Pogačar. Even if a few sprinters get to the finish, the rise to the line will interest him, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him beat sprinters up the final incline.
The pressure will be on Trek-Segafredo and Jayco, they are the ones with sprinters who’ll hope of competing for the win. If they do manage to control the break, then they’ve got to carefully manage the final climb, and then hope they can beat Pogačar in the sprint. It’s a complicated day, this is their plan:
Phase 1 – manage the morning break to ensure it’s not got big engines in it.
Phase 2 – chase it down by using the bare minimum of riders.
Phase 3 – try to control the final categorised climb, and chase down attacks.
Phase 4 – try to beat Pogačar in the sprint.
Mads Pedersen – when he looked at the road book, this would have been a stage he would have liked. When Trek-Segafredo see a stage that suits their man, they go all in for him, I love their style. He’s already shown this week that he’s sprinting well, and he likes an uphill sprint too. Pedersen has a good team to support him, he’ll hope his boys can set up a sprint.
Arnaud De Lie – the way he went up the Muur, this finish isn’t going to cause him any problems, but what about the final classified climb? With 5 days in the legs, he could well be starting to feel it, five stages is the longest he’s done as a professional. If he copes well with the fatigue, he’ll be up there fighting for the win.
Michael Matthews – another who’ll have looked at this stage and thought it was one for him. Jayco have a good team at this race, and they have climbers who’ll be able to survive the final hill and chase down any late attack. He’s sprinting well and will back himself to win this stage.
Arnaud Démare – this is his type of finish, and he does seem to be riding into form. He can never be discounted in this race.
Tadej Pogačar – 500m at 6.6%, he’s going to be a hard man to beat. Saying that, he might just attack on the final climb for a bit of a laugh.
Iván García – it’s the type of stage that suits him down to the ground. Movistar won’t be under any pressure to do work, and García is always dangerous in an uphill sprint.
Remi Cavagna – breakaway hopeful number/late attacker 1.
Magnus Cort – breakaway hopeful number/late attacker 2.
Fred Wright – breakaway hopeful number/late attacker 3.
Brent Van Moer – breakaway hopeful number/late attacker 4.
The new route is basically two laps of a finishing circuit which contains that nasty wall climb, but the race is not certain to go ahead as trees are falling down all over the place.
In terms of favourites, the new route means a GC day and one thing.