Martorell > Molins de Rei 173.9km
Just a couple of days ago the organisers had to change the finale of this stage, removing the final climb and descent. The image above is the old stage, below is the new one.
That climb was a tough one, meaning it was a nailed-on breakaway day, the new stage offers a climbing sprinter more hope.
Another lovely day in Catalunya. There’s a bit of wind around, but there’s a lot of trees to protect the riders.
Alt de la Creu d’Aragall is a cat 2 climb, and it’s far too hard for almost all the quick men. 5.5km at 6.1% isn’t easy, the opening kilometres are particularly challenging with several hairpin bends. From the crest, there’s 27km to go.
There are 5 roundabouts to deal with from 4km to 2km to go, they are very large and wide. The final turn comes with 1.5km to go and opens onto a wide finishing straight.
Ineos are likely to be the only team hoprful that their “sprinter” can survive the final climb, everyone else will be going for the breakaway. For one team to control the break, it would need to be relatively small, break management is vital. The opening kilometres of the race can be described as rolling, perfect for those with big engines to try and get a good group up the road, but sometimes days like this produce a small break after about an hour of racing, you can never tell.
Once it does get established, the size and composition of the break will be crucial. There are several excellent breakaway riders in the peloton, this is the day they’ve all been looking forward to. The removal of the final climb isn’t ideal, but it’s still a day where the break has a good chance of taking the win.
The final climb isn’t hard enough for big GC attacks, this is a day where the GC teams can take it easy, they’ll need all their energy for Sunday’s stage in Barcelona. However, if the break is brought back, the final climb is perfect for punchy riders to attack and go all the way to the finish.
It could be a day for the break, a late attack, a 50-man sprint or a 30-man sprint. That’s what I call a well-designed stage.
Ethan Hayter – can he survive 5.5km at 6.1%? If Ineos are leading the peloton, and get to ride the climb at their pace, the answer is yes. They only have 6 men in the race, that could be a problem for them. They’ve got to try and ensure the break is small, chase it down, go fast enough on the climb to drop the sprinters, then have enough men to control the final 20km. This is a complicated effort for them, but they do have strong riders in the race. Hayter was in today’s break, but sat up after about an hour. Saving himself for this stage?
Primož Roglič – say Ineos chase down the break, but then Jumbo-Visma go hard on the climb and drop all the fast men, it would open the door for another Roglič sprint victory. I don’t think this is very likely, but I’ll just put it out there.
Maxim Van Gils – good on the climbs and packs a fast sprint, perfect for a stage like this. He’s already been in a break this week; I’m hoping he tries again as it’s a good chance for him to claim his first world tour win.
Dylan Teuns – he’s not done much this season, but he’s the type of rider who can pull out a good performance when you least expect it.
Stefano Oldani – the sort of fast finisher who could win the stage from the break. As the final climb is 30km from home, it’s possible he could hold on, or get back to the front group on the descent.
Jesús Herrada – the medium mountain King! Loves a cat 2 climb, in fact, I think he has them for breakfast. He’s been climbing well this week, and this is a perfect stage for him.
Ben Tulett – he’d give Ineos a good option from the break. Tulett is a solid climber, and he can TT too. If he gets a gap, he’d be a hard man to bring back.
Rune Herregodts – he’ll have targeted this stage as soon as he saw the road book. Not only does he have a good sprint, but he’s climbing better than ever. This is a chance for him to claim his first win for Intermarché, and his first at the highest level.
Andreas Kron – this season has been going much better than last. He’s without a win, but he’s looking much more like his old self. If Kron makes the break, he’ll use the climb to attack and see if he can drop his rivals, it also helps that he’s got a fast sprint.
Richard Carapaz – he’ll keep testing out his legs until he gets the answer he’s looking for.
Adam Yates – surely he gets freedom in this stage. It’s not a perfect looking route for him, but he could do some damage on the climb.
Despite the change of route, this is still one for the breakaway riders.
I’ll take a win for the King of the medium mountains, Jesús Herrada.
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