Nantua / Crest-Voland 170km
After Vingegaard’s masterclass today, he now leads the GC by over 1 minute, a huge advantage considering we’ve not had a mountain yet. The battle for the other spots in the top 10 is still on, it might be the only excitement we get from now on.
There’s going to be a bit of rain in the afternoon.
This is cat 2 climb, Col des Aravis. Not the hardest climb in the world, but the pace will be high near the crest as all the GC riders will want to be at the front for the fast descent, especially if the roads are wet.
The final 6.6km of the stage features two climbs: 3.3km at 6.1% and 2km at 8.4%. The final climb crests with 400m to go, all of which is downhill.
Will Soudal – Quick Step ride for Alaphilippe? I think they are the only team who would contemplate such a move, the rest will fear just pulling Vingegaard along for another stage win. The finale to this stage is much easier than today, it’s a stage that Julian could well win, but we’ve seen in this race that it takes a lot to bring back breakaways, do the team have the numbers to do so? I don’t think they’ll get much help, maybe EF for Carapaz, but Jumbo-Visma have no need to ride.
The problem for Soudal – Quick Step is Col des Aravis; they don’t really have the squad to ride hard up the climb. They would need to bring the break back before it and hope that someone else helps pace or everyone else is happy with a steady ride up the hill. However, this is a team that usually throws everything behind their chosen rider, and that is likely to be Alaphilippe. He’s their best chance of winning this stage, not someone from the break. That means it’s time for my favourite two words, break management.
They need to try and ensure the break doesn’t have more than 5 or 6 riders in it, anymore, and they’ll struggle to bring it back. A lot of potential breakaway riders would wish the first categorised climb of the day was just a little closer to the start, but you just never know, it could still be the point where the break gets away. Soudal – Quick Step will try everything to make sure this doesn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It is very hard for just one team to stop the break from winning, it’s all about break management.
Once in the finale, we won’t see gaps between the GC riders, it’s not hard enough. If the break is caught, we could see Jumbo – Visma becoming interested in another stage, Vingegaard would have a decent chance of taking more bonus seconds.
Julian Alaphilippe – already has a stage win, but today’s second place will leave him wanting more. The legs are currently good, but he’s not yet at his old level, something that he’ll hope will come over the next few weeks. The finish in this stage is just about perfect for him, but as I’ve explained, this won’t be an easy stage for Soudal – Quick Step to control.
Giulio Ciccone – today was his first real test, and he passed it. He arrived here looking to improve his shape after COVID stopped him from riding the Giro, finishing in the main group was a step in the right direction. The final rise to the line is good for him, he is very explosive and would have a big chance of fighting Alaphilippe for the win.
Jonas Vingegaard – I don’t think he’ll waste energy attacking, he’ll follow wheels and see where that takes him. If the opportunity arises to go for another stage win, he’ll seize it with both hands.
Richard Carapaz – tried his best today but it wasn’t good enough. There’s no shame in that, it was good to see Carapaz give it a go, you’ve got to respect his ambition. This finish is one that suits him better, he should be fighting for the win.
Tobias Johannessen – after his recent struggles, it was great to see him finishing 3rd today. The Norwegian has a very fast sprint for a climber, this is another stage that should suit his characteristics.
Oscar Onley – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Omar Fraile – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Robert Stannard – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Rune Herregodts – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Can Soudal – Quick Step chase down the break?
I’ll take a win for Julian Alaphilippe.