Sion / Thyon 2000 162km
The Queen stage is here, and it’s got a lot of climbing. After today’s TT, Ayuso is in the race lead, will he be able to hang on?
Another day with a threat of rain, we’ll have to see if it happens this time. This rain could turn into wintery showers on high ground.
First up is Anzère.
The next cat 1 climb is Suen, the opening 10km is super steep.
Thyon 2000, it’s a tough mountain. It’s a long climb and the gradient is relentless. We had huge gaps here last time; I expect something similar this time round.
UAE are in the race lead, and they have Adam Yates sitting in 5th place, just 30 seconds behind. That leaves five men to control the stage, but the team is strong and has lots of climbing talent. The race so far means there’s loads of riders still close on GC, I would expect someone within 4 minutes of Ayuso to make the break, which will force UAE into chasing. If it someone doesn’t contain a GC threat, they’ll be happy to let the break get a big advantage, it will be up to the other teams to chase.
The GC action will come on the final climb, it could be hard for UAE to control, that’s why having Yates high on GC is important. Instead of sitting back and waiting to be attacked, UAE will go on the offensive and attack, which will allow Ayuso try and follow the wheels.
What about the other teams? The TTs mean that some of the best climbers are already down 1-minute, winning GC will be hard, it’s all about the stage. Some are likely to try and go relatively early, it’s not a typical GC situation. UAE will have to keep a close eye on Matteo Jorgenson, he’s their main threat for the title. Two riders high on GC is a good position to be in, but the team will need to decide who their leader is. If it’s Yates, there’s no way he goes early and wastes vital energy, but you don’t often see this type of move from the race leader. Only they will know if Ayuso is going to be good enough to last the distance, I’m interested to see how they approach the stage.
Thyon 2000 is a very hard climb, I don’t see too many capable of challenging for the win. The weather is going to have a big impact, if it rains, it’s going to be survival of the fittest, just like last time. UAE have two of the best climbers in the race, they’ll expect to walk away with the stage and GC title.
Juan Ayuso – his absence this year made me forgot just how good he is. Today’s TT was very impressive, but can he really win the title? He keeps saying he’s not at his best, but I don’t think many people believe him. Last year was a sensational first year as a pro, his level at 20 is scarily good. However, I do think he’s telling the truth about his current shape, this stage is going to be a huge test for him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he won, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he struggled. The mountain will decide.
Adam Yates – he’s sitting in a good position. This should be a climb he likes, and as I mentioned in my overall preview, he’s always won at least one stage race each season. His chances of winning will be boosted if Ayuso stays in the front group, then Yates will likely attack in the final 5km. One issue could be the weather, he can struggle in poor conditions despite being from Bury.
Matteo Jorgenson – what a season he’s having, I couldn’t be happier for him. Matteo is a guy who’ve I’ve been talking about for a few seasons know, it’s great to see how much he’s developed in that time. You might think Thyon 2000 is too hard for him, but I disagree, he’s now climbing with the very best. He’s one who’ll be hoping for rain, he goes very well in tough conditions. After winning the Tour of Oman, he’d love for this to be his first world tour win, and so would I.
Romain Bardet – despite being a brilliant climber, he’s never been a consistent winner at the highest level. Earlier in the season he was good, but not at his best, recent results suggest he’s getting close. As he sits 1:03 behind Ayuso, he’ll hope to get a little freedom.
Thibaut Pinot – he doesn’t want so simply slide into retirement; he wants to go out with a bang. His form is good, but his last win from a GC group was that special day on the Tourmalet back in 2019. Winning will be tough.
Gino Mäder – if he’s at his best, he can win this stage. Gino is a brilliant mountain climber, and riding on home soil will give him extra motivation. He’s 41 seconds down on GC, so he’s still in contention for the overall win too. With Caruso as support, Bahrain is a team who could put UAE under pressure.
Michael Woods – won here in 2021, he’ll be happy to be back. As expected, his TT was a disaster, he now sits a whopping 2:24 down on GC. He can’t win the title, but being so far down means he will have freedom to attack without a reaction from UAE.
I picked him before the race started and I’m not going to change my mind now.
It’s going to be a huge win for Matteo Jorgenson.
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