Onet-le-Château > Albi 126km
What the hell happened today? To see such a large group allowed a huge gap was bonkers, let’s see if something similar happens in this stage.
Much hotter than previous days, temperatures will hit 33 degrees.
The first categorised climb, Côte de Najac, starts after 73km of racing. The categorised section is 2.2km at 7.3%, but the graphic shows the nasty unclassified section that comes after, this is 550m at 10%.
Next up is Côte de Laguépie, which is another cat 3 effort. The opening kilometre of the climb averages 10.2%.
This is the next climb, it is uncategorised, but has a bonus sprint at the top. 1.7km at 6.7% should really be a cat 4.
The final climb of the day is Côte de Monestiés, which is a cat 4 effort. It’s another short, steep hill, 2km at almost 6%. From the crest there’s 24km to go.
The final 5km looks straightforward to me, but the road does rise near the line.
Make no mistake, the climbs in this stage are very hard, don’t let the classifications fool you. Within just 30km the riders are faced with four challenging climbs, it could well be ambush country. After a relatively dull start to the race, most people were wondering when the race was really going to kick off, they got their answer today.
Could something similar happen in this stage? Will teams continue to do the work SD Worx should be doing, it’s funny that they have Worx in their name yet seem to never do their fair share. Given the type of stage we have, there’s a chance another big break gets away, SD Worx have said their focus is on protecting yellow, not necessarily going for stage wins. If a team wants to push the pace on the climbs, the sprinters will be put into difficulty, but Kopecky won’t be dropped. If I was a DS in charge of every other team, I’d try to get someone in the break, it seems the obvious thing to do. If not, DO NOT WORK ON THE FRONT OF THE PELOTON.
In terms of the GC, the climbs are hard, but the steepest of them comes too far out for any proper action. You could see someone who lost time today looking to jump away and get themselves back up the rankings, but don’t expect moves from the top 10.
Lotte Kopecky – she is in incredible form, flying! She can win this stage by waiting for a sprint and hoping Wiebes has been dropped, or she can attack on the climbs and go for another solo win. Given the way she’s climbing, I would say she starts as the favourite.
Lorena Wiebes – if she’s there for the sprint, she’ll win. If a team wants to race the climbs, they’ll be too hard for her, but trying to guess team tactics is a bit tricky!
Marlen Reusser – long range attack.
Grace Brown – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Anna Henderson – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Pfeiffer Georgi – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Lizzie Deignan – breakaway hopeful number 4.
A breakaway win for Grace Brown.