Sant Feliu de Guíxols > Sant Feliu de Guíxols 164.6km
The opening stage is just about the same as last year, it should be a big sprint, but one that tests everyone to the limit.
A sunny start to the week.
This is the final categorised climb of the day. It starts with 30km to go and is a relatively steady 6.8km at 4.2%.
If you’ve seen the finishes here in 2019 and 2022, you’ll remember just how hard it is. The riders race along the beachfront and then cut inland. Everyone who’s been to Spain knows that whenever you head away from the beach you’re faced with a bloody hill. This hill feels hard when you’re trying to get up it carrying a couple of large bags, with crying children behind, but it’s easier on a bike! The little lump won’t drop anyone, but if you want to win the stage you need to stay in the first 15 wheels, as a fast descent follows.
The descent makes it very hard to move up the bunch, especially with a few corners thrown in. Those who are first over the little kicker will stay at the front for the descent and will make the final turn in a perfect position. This corner leads onto the finishing straight which is 950m at 4.3%, but it’s harder than the numbers suggest. Michael Matthews has won both times we’ve recently been here, it’s a day for a climbing sprinter but some of the GC riders will also be involved.
Nothing fancy required, it’s all about getting to the front for the final 5km. We’ll have a huge fight at this point, GC teams will want a good position, but so will those who are interested in the stage.
Kaden Groves – crashed in Nokere Koerse, hopefully he didn’t sustain an injury. This is a great finish for Groves, he copes well when the road goes up, but he needs a good position for the final kilometre. Since turning pro, Groves has struggled with positioning, but that’s a lot to do with poor sprint trains. If his mates get him in a good position, he should be close to the win.
Corbin Strong – won an uphill sprint in the Tour of Britain, so this should be a good finish for him. Results this season have been okay, but nothing to get too excited about, he could do with a good day.
Ethan Hayter – this is his first race since crashing hard in the Cadel Evans race. An uphill finish like this one is good for Hayter, but he’s another rider who often struggles with position. He won’t like the battle in the final 5km, especially the fast downhill that leads into the final turn.
Bryan Coquard – this is his type of stage, it’s perfect for him. Coquard took his first world tour win of his career in the Tour Down Under, it’s been a long wait. He’s not won since then, but most of that has been against the best sprinters in the world, so winning would always be hard. Looking at Cofidis, he’ll get help from Jesús Herrada in the finale, hopefully he gets a good position for the final turn.
Jon Aberasturi – his move to Trek-Segafredo hasn’t returned a win yet, but this is a good finish for him. The Basque rider has an excellent uphill sprint, he’s someone who should be challenging for the win.
Milan Menten – 5 top 10 results in his last 5 races, including a win in Le Samyn, it’s great to see Milan getting the results I always knew he was capable of. His move to Lotto has already been a big success, and this is just the beginning. Like a few of the sprinters here, he excels in uphill sprints, he’ll look at this finish and back himself to take the win.
Dorian Godon – loves a grippy sprint, but winning will be unlikely.
Primož Roglič – if the finish was 6% and not 4.3%, he’d be my favourite. Going in his favour is Jumbo-Visma will ensure he’s in a great position for the final turn, so he’s likely to be one of the men challenging for the win, but he would prefer it to be a little steeper. If some of the sprinters are also in a good position, winning will be tough, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the top 3.
I love this uphill finish, having a good position is vital. I don’t think Roglič will be far off, but I’ll take a win for one of the uphill sprint specialists.
It’s a second world tour win for Bryan Coquard.