Albi > Blagnac 122km
With the eagerly anticipated Tourmalet stage on Saturday, there’s one last chance for the sprinters to take a win. The opening 30km is full of little kickers, and with Wiebes no longer in the race, some will hope the break will have a chance, but I don’t think so. This is a wonderful chance for another sprinter to now win a stage, expect a bunch sprint.
Another hot one, temperatures will hit 30 degrees.
Much more technical than the other sprint finish. There’s a roundabout with 4.6km to go, both sides look the same to me, just after there’s around 500m at 3%, which isn’t ideal for the sprinters who don’t climb well. Just at the top of this little hill there’s another roundabout, which is followed by yet another with 3.2km to go, the left-hand side is by far the fastest, I would expect the right-hand side to be closed, which will make things narrow.
At 2.6km to go, there’s another massive roundabout, both sides look the same, but it will require the riders to slow down a bit. This is when you need to be at the front, those further back will start to get bogged down in the pack. With 2.2km remaining, guess what, it’s another roundabout. This time it’s straight on, but only the right will be open, and it’s quite narrow.
The finishing straight is 1.3km long, but it also features some issues. It looks like there’s a little chicane which allows the riders to cross from one side of the road to the other, but they have cross tram tracks, which is far from ideal. The final kilometre is straight and without issues, but I’ve seen wider finishes.
Charlotte Kool – get boxed in the other day, but that wasn’t the only mistake DSM made. With SD Worx sitting back, they were forced into doing a lot of the chasing, which meant that Pfeiffer Georgi hit the front just inside the final kilometre, which was far too early. Compare that to Kopecky, who hit the front with around 500m to go, that made all the difference. With Georgi on the front too early, other teams were able to surge forward, which meant that Kool fell down the line and ended up getting boxed in, they need to look at what SD Worx do. DSM need to be patient, do not hit the front too early.
Lotte Kopecky – with Wiebes out of the race, Kopecky will sprint for SD Worx. Don’t expect the team to chase the break, they’ll save everything back for the final kilometre and Reusser will help to position Kopecky. Despite being able to do just about everything else, Kopecky is also a very fast bunch sprinter, she just doesn’t get the chance to show it very often. She’ll look to grab the wheel of Kool and try to come round her in the final metres.
Marianne Vos – she got close to Wiebes the other day, and with Anna Henderson to support, Vos will start the stage confident of upsetting the odds. She’s not had a great time in this race, but a win would change all of that.
Chiara Consonni – 4th in stage 3 was an excellent result, but can she edge her way onto the podium? After winning the final stage of the Giro, the Italian knows she has the speed required to challenge for the win, but she does need a little bit of luck.
Elisa Balsamo – another who’ll be hoping to challenge for the win but might have to settle for 3rd. The Italian is fast, but there are faster.
With Wiebes out, I don’t think anyone will be able to beat Charlotte Kool.