Zabrze > Krakow 166km
The race ends in Kraków, a very popular finishing city for the Tour de Pologne. Pascal Ackermann has won here twice; I wonder if he can complete the hattrick.
Another cloudy day but it should stay dry.
The stage ends with three and a bit laps of this circuit, which is just over 5km in length. The final corner comes with 1.8km to go, this finish is all to do with timing. Knowing when to hit the front is an art form, but you also need the legs to be able to do it.
With Mohorič and Almeida joint on time, Mohorič leads by a bawhair, UAE will have to decide what they want to try and do in this stage. After 65km, there’s a bonus sprint with 3, 2 and 1 seconds available on the line. If UAE chase down the break for this point, Almeida will have a crack at trying to take the time required to win the jersey. Now, he’s not as fast as Mohorič, but I would still expect UAE to try something, they’ve got nothing to lose.
If this happens, the sprint teams need to be very careful just after the sprint point, this is where a strong break could slip off the front and cause the peloton a headache. Most teams still want a sprint, but other teams will have to give Soudal – Quick Step a hand to chase down the break. Alpecin, Intermarché and Tudor will all be keen on helping to chase, they have a good shot at taking the stage win, even though it’s going to be hard to beat Merlier.
Tim Merlier – he won the opening stage and starts as the big favourite to take this one. He’s got an expert final man, Bert Van Lerberghe, to guide in the closing kilometre and the sprint train should also include Cattaneo and Vervaeke. These guys aren’t as suited to the role as others, but it’s what they have in the team, and both are versatile riders. The key is Van Lerberghe, as I’ve mentioned before, he can sit close to the front for many kilometres in the finale, before suddenly bursting forward at the right time to launch his good friend. In this type of finish, they have the experience required to know when the time is right.
Gerben Thijssen – not threatened in the two sprints so far, 10th is his best result. He’s got a good sprint train, but it’s not clicked for them yet, fingers crossed they get it right in this stage.
Milan Menten – he’s in a similar position to Thijssen, nowhere close in the first two sprints and desperate to impress in this stage. He’s got the experienced legs of Schwarzmann and Selig to help, but these guys are coming to the end of the line. Milan is going to need some luck surfing wheels to challenge for the win.
Fernando Gaviria – 3rd in the opening stage was a good result, and as he won the final stage in Romandie, he’ll be hoping to do the same here. He’ll have Max Kanter to help guide, but Gaviria is more than happy to look after himself in the closing metres.
Arvid De Kleijn – he came here with the hope of winning his first world tour stage, this is a big day for him. We’ve seen already this year that when his train get it right, they really get it right, his win in Milano-Torino was exceptional. To win against Merlier and Bennett, he needs a perfect lead out and great legs.
Edward Theuns – I grow frustrated at how many chances he gets to sprint these days. When given an opportunity, and the correct support, Eddie is still fast enough to challenge for wins. This year he came close to winning Le Samyn and Nokere Koerse, hopefully he gets the support he deserves in this stage. Mosca, Hoelgaard and Vergaerde make a strong train, hopefully Eddie can convert a rare chance.
Pascal Ackermann – as I’ve already mentioned, he’s won here twice in his career. His best bet would be to try and jump on the wheel of Merlier and hope he can carry him to the front.
Jakub Mareczko – he’s got the longest, and possibly fastest sprint train in the race. The team can call on Taminiaux, Krieger and Plowright to get him in position, but it’s not happened yet for them in this race. This stage finishes not too far from his birthplace, the perfect spot for Mareczko to win his first ever world tour race.
Matteo Moschetti – 3rd the other day was a good result for the Italian, especially as his sprint train doesn’t look good. Another top 3 result would be a great result for him.
Marijn van den Berg – what a race it’s been for the Dutch sprinter. He was 2nd in the stage 4 bunch sprint, won from the GC group in stage 5 and was up there in the hilltop finish in stage 3. There’s been no news of a contract extension with EF, there’s rumours that his impressive results this season have attracted the interest of a few teams. Winning a bunch sprint would top off a brilliant week for him, don’t be surprised to see him crossing the line first.
Lennard Kämna – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Thomas De Gendt – breakaway hopeful number 2.
With big Bert by his side, it’s another win for Tim Merlier.