Olost > La Molina 180.2km
With just over 4000m of climbing, this is a tough day in the saddle. The race finishes with La Molina, a climb that rarely causes gaps between the best riders, but it all depends on how the climb is ridden.
A lovely day.
This is Coll de la Creuta, it’s the only HC climb in the stage. It’s not the hardest climb in the world, but it is long.
La Molina is a climb that’s always used in this race, almost all the riders in the bunch will know it. The opening 6km averages 7.3%, this is where damage can be done, but the problem is the final 6km of the stage, it’s relatively easy, with a downhill section too. The rise to the line is tough, it suits the explosive climbers.
Who’s going to chase the break? Just 19 riders are withing 2 minutes of Roglič, the breakaway riders will be sensing a big chance to take the stage. It’s all to do with who’s in the move, that will determine how far they go. Take a rider like Guillaume Martin, he sits 2:51 down, but given his climbing pedigree, his presence would likely see Jumbo-Visma chase it down. If the break doesn’t contain a perceived GC threat, it’s got a good chance of going all the way.
Jumbo-Visma don’t need to chase, they’ll be keen on saving as many men as possible for the second half of the stage. Soudal – Quick Step could be interested in setting up a stage win for Evenepoel, but as this is a demanding stage, teams will need to be careful in terms of the workload their domestiques need to get through, it’s only stage 3 after all.
Once on La Molina, we’ll see another big GC fight. Evenepoel looked nice and strong today, but he didn’t ride a clever race, he needs to go back to the drawing board as Roglič is a hard man to beat. This isn’t a climb where the top riders usually drop each other, but little gaps can be created in the final 200m. With both Ciccone and Evenepoel sitting just 6 seconds behind Roglič, the sprint to the line will be very important.
The other thing to look for is a late attack. If the break is caught and the stage win is up for grabs, it’s a great chance for someone to jump away when the domestiques are used up. Ben O’Connor did this to perfection last year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a similar move taking the win this time round, especially as Roglič and Evenepoel seem focused on each other.
Remco Evenepoel – looked very strong today but made tactical mistakes. Yes, everyone was looking at him, but after he attacked, he continued on the front until the final 100m. The team will have to think about how they can approach this stage, the good news is Van Wilder is also looking strong and he can last deep into the finale, the bad news is the sprinting speed of Roglič and Ciccone. Winning this stage won’t be easy, but he does have good legs.
Primož Roglič – that was an impressive climb by him today, I get the feeling he’s not far from his best. This is a stage that suits him, but he must be a little worried about his lack of support today. When Bahrain lifted the pace, Roglič only had Kuss for company, that needs to be improved, especially in a stage like this where late attacks often come. The final kilometre screams his name, he’ll start as the favourite.
Giulio Ciccone – I didn’t think he’d be up there today, but what a climb. He comfortably sat in Remco’s wheel when he was attacking, he never looked in danger. The Italian is looking back to his best, maybe even better than he’s ever been before. Given the way he’s climbing, and sprinting, a second win is within his grasp.
Adam Yates – despite crashing on Monday, he was looking strong today. As he sits way down on GC, it’s all set up for him to attack in the closing stages and take a solo win. His GC position means he could get freedom, but that’s not a foregone conclusion. If he leaves it too late, those fighting for the stage will chase, but if he goes too early teams will have domestiques to chase him. He’s got the legs but needs to time his attack to perfection.
Marc Soler – with everyone expecting a Yates attack, Soler could well surprise. The local would love to win, and he’s never scared to attack. UAE have three options for the win, given the nature of the finish they should be first home.
Michael Woods – a good finish for him and his form is growing.
Gino Mäder – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Antonio Pedrero – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Oscar Onley – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Wout Poels – breakaway hopeful number 4.
My gut says the break won’t win, it’s likely to contain someone who is too much of a threat to Roglič. I think the finish is set up for a late attacker to take the day.
I’ll take a win for Marc Soler.
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