Collonges-la-Rouge > Montignac-Lascaux 147km
Another day with a lumpy first half, but will this end up as a day for the sprinters?
Cloudy sun, temperatures will reach 23 degrees. The wind will be around 20km/h, coming from the north-west.
The opening half of the stage is full of short climbs, it’s constantly up and down without rest. The attitude of the bunch will be interesting, a strong break could form if the riders want to race.
There’s a chance of echelons, but the route isn’t as exposed as I would like. The first section heading south is the most exposed, but the headwind straight after it isn’t ideal for those who can’t to create splits.
There’s a roundabout with 1.2km to deal with, that’s the most important point in terms of sprint preparation as the left-hand side is the fastest way round. After that it’s full gas for the final turn with just 600m left, which opens onto the finishing straight, the final 300m is on a gentle rise between 1% and 2%.
It could be a good day for the breakaway, but it depends on what the big teams want to happen. The lumpy nature of the first half of the stage is normally good news for a breakaway, but the bad news is most of this section is into a relatively strong headwind. If a break is to succeed, it would have to have representation from SD Worx and probably DSM, will that happen?
Probably not. Instead, I think we’ll likely see the big teams control the first half of the stage, deterring any big attacks. The second half of the stage is good for sprinters, most teams will be happy with a controlled stage and a sprint finish, that’s what we’re likely to get, it really does depend on the attitude of the teams.
SD Worx are in the race lead, but they don’t have a lot of domestiques to use chasing the break. Only having a team of 6 makes it hard for all teams, but SD Worx have Vollering, Kopecky and Wiebes as protected riders, they’ll need help from others. Hopefully, we get an aggressive start to the day and some teams throw caution to wind.
Lorena Wiebes – the fastest sprinter in the peloton, and with Kopecky as lead out, she’s going to be very hard to beat. Wiebes won two stages last year, she’d love to get her first win of the race, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see SD Worx take another win.
Lotte Kopecky – if it turns into a hard stage, Kopecky will be hard to beat in this sprint. She lost out today, but this is a flat sprint which is good for her, especially if the fastest sprinters are dropped.
Charlotte Kool – was lead out for Wiebes in 2022, her move to star sprinter has gone incredibly well this year. She started at the beginning of the year by beating Wiebes in the UAE Tour, and since then Kool’s continued to dominate most of the sprints, she’s been involved in. If DSM can nail the lead out, Kool has a good shot at upsetting the odds.
Marianne Vos – both Wiebes and Kool are faster than Vos, but her experience means a win wouldn’t be a big surprise. Vos beat Kool earlier this year in the Vuelta, but beating both Kool and Wiebes will be difficult.
UAE Team ADQ – both Consonni and Gasparrini have the speed required to challenge for a good result in this stage. It should be Consonni if it’s a big sprint, Gasparrini if it’s a harder day.
Julie De Wilde – just 20, she’s one of the up-and-coming stars of the future. Mixing it in a sprint against those already mentioned won’t be easy, but De Wilde has the speed to hold her own and challenge for the top 5.
Emma Norsgaard – only win this year was the Danish ITT championship, but she did look good in the Baloise Tour. If the sprint goes perfectly, she can make the top 3.
Elisa Balsamo – had a very bad crash in the RideLondon Classique, she’s been working for the team in the opening stages, hopefully she’s fit enough to contest this sprint, it would normally be a good one for her.
Grace Brown – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Anna Henderson – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Yara Kastelijn – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Anouska Koster – breakaway hopeful number 4.
I think the headwind in the opening half of the stage will mean the race ends in a big sprint.
A win for Lorena Wiebes.