Rattenberg > Alpbach 127.4km
The first stage of the race has a brilliant finish, we’re straight into a big GC day. The stage is a short one, just 127km in length, but the final 50km is incredibly difficult. We’ll have a good idea who’ll be fighting for the race win after this day is done.
Grey and quite cold. There’s some rain around in the morning, but it should clear by the time the riders roll out of town.
The final categorised climb of the day is Kerschbaumer Sattel, which looks horrific if you ask me. It is relentless, barely dropping under 10% the whole way up. From the crest there’s just 11km to go, the next 5km is a very fast descent.
This is the rise to the line. The hardest section is just inside the final kilometre where it kicks up to over 10%.
Ineos will likely control the morning breakaway, setting up a big finish. Most teams arrive with multiple options, we could see a tactical battle on the big climb with teams trying to fire riders up the road, a lot will depend on what Ineos want to do. They have the riders to go for a mountain train, setting a fast pace and deterring attacks, but will they choose to do so?
Only the team will know about their hierarchy at this race, they’ve been at altitude recently and will have decided on a plan for this week. Given how they normally ride, I’d expect a mountain train, but they’ll want to keep two or three for the finish.
Bora also have three options for this stage, they’ll be keen on getting involved in the finale, especially as Kämna likes to go long. They also have a great option if it ends in a sprint, hopefully they don’t just wait and ride aggressively.
The rest? Follow and try to stay with the best.
Ineos – they have Sivakov, Arensman, Thomas and Geoghegan Hart for this stage, but who’ll be their chosen son? Looking at the punchy finish, Tao should be the man to wait. If it kicks off early, I expect Arensman to be allowed to attack. I’m saying this while trying to look into my crystal ball, only the team will know their order.
Bora – Kämna to go long, Vlasov for the finish. If this was last year, Vlasov would be the overwhelming favourite for a finish like this, but 2023 Vlasov hasn’t been as strong. However, we all know just how good he is, I’m expecting him to be good this week.
Hugh Carthy – Hugh will love the look of the cat 2 climb; I hope to see him going on the attack and seeing what happens. The climb reminds me of the Civiglio, but a little harder, and Hugh has a good record on that hill.
Bahrain – they’ll look to Buitrago and Haig for this finish. The Colombian is a fast finisher, but I’m not sure he’ll cope when the main favourites go full. Haig also has a good kick; he’ll hope to be challenging for the win.
It’s time for Aleksandr Vlasov to get back to his best.
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