Porte-de-Savoie > Col de la Croix de Fer 148km
The weekend kicks off with a big day in the mountains. The riders must tackle 4018m of climbing in just 147km of racing, but if you remove the flat start it’s 3700m of climbing in the final 100km of the stage, that’s huge! This is a day where we’ll see big gaps on GC.
Sunshine and showers.
First up is the mighty Madeleine.
Then it’s Coll du Mollard, which is the easiest of the three climbs, even though it’s a HC climb.
The race ends with the Croix de Fer, a regular in the Tour de France. It’s not the hardest climb in this part of the world but the final 6km does average 8.3%, so it’s steep enough to do lots of damage.
The flat start is a nightmare for climbers looking to be in the break, and to win this stage you have to be brilliant in the mountains. This means the GC riders have an excellent chance of fighting for the stage win. Some will wonder why teams will ride, saying that they’re just pulling for Vingegaard, but that’s a negative way of approaching the stage.
I think teams like AG2R, Movistar, UAE, EF, and Bora must back their men. Not only does this give confidence to the chosen rider, but it also adds a little pressure to their shoulders, which is no bad thing. The break could well be big, but it’s unlikely to feature enough climbing talent to cope with the mountains, especially with several teams looking to chase behind.
What teams will have noticed is a lack of support for Vingegaard in today’s stage, this will give them some hope. The good news for Vingegaard is that he’s got a nice advantage over O’Connor, and teams don’t have multiple options. Instead of sitting back and waiting to get attacked, I think Jonas could well go on the attack and slim down the front group, which will make it easier for him to mark any attacks. He looks to have the best legs in the peloton, he’ll go into this stage with confidence, beating him will be very hard.
Those who sit a little further down on the GC will hope that the main contenders look at each other, and as it’s unlikely they’ll be any domestiques left, a well-timed attack could take the win. I wouldn’t say this scenario has a big chance of success, but it will still offer hope to those more than 3 minutes down on GC,
Jonas Vingegaard – starts as the overwhelming favourite. He’s already shown he can drop everyone else, and the climbing in this stage should suit him perfectly. Looking at the Croix de Fer, there’s a 2km section at 9%, this starts with 6km to go and seems the perfect place for a big attack. When he goes, we’ll see if anyone can respond.
Ben O’Connor – the most likely to have the legs to follow, but there’s no guarantee he can. O’Connor was excellent here last year, and after a tough 2023, he’ll be happy with how this race has gone. He’s currently sitting in 2nd place on GC, this would be his best career result, but I hope he doesn’t settle for it, hopefully he has the confidence to attack.
Enric Mas – the form is building, but maybe slower than he would like. I can’t see him fighting for the win.
Jai Hindley – I’ve not seen much of him this week, yet he sits in 5th place. Can he finally a land a big result in France? I’m not convinced.
Adam Yates – yet again, he starts a season in great form, but gradually seems to lose that form when he hits the big races. He couldn’t follow Vingegaard on Thursday, despite usually coping well with double-digit gradients. He sits in 4th on GC, so he’s got eyes on the podium, but his current form doesn’t seem good enough to challenge for the win.
Richard Carapaz – he sits 3 :16 down on GC, he’ll hope that buys him some freedom on the final climb. He’s climbing well just now; I expect him to attack from distance and try to get ahead of the race.
Giulio Ciccone – it’s unlikely he’ll have the legs to cope with all the climbing, he’s still gradually regaining form after COVID stopped him from doing the Giro.
Thomas De Gendt – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Pierre Latour – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Gregor Mühlberger – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Kenny Elissonde – breakaway hopeful number 4.
A host of GC teams will help to chase the break and set up a big finish on the Croix de Fer.
Another dominant win for Jonas Vingegaard.