The last chance for the sprinters and a ride across some fine countryside before a finish in wine country.
Stage 1: an early break of three from which Brice Feillu took the mountains jersey, he turned pro in 2009 and won a summit finish in the Tour de France months later and to date that’s been his only race win. The move was contained by Quick Step and Vital Concept with the latter hoping for a sprint finish only the finish was lively with several big names launching attacks in the final kilometres including Julian Alaphilippe who was briefly joined by Michał Kwiatkowski before Geraint Thomas chased them down, not quite the “old 1-2” routine. We got a sprint among those left at the front of affairs from which Daryl Impey was unbeatable. Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu, tipped as a rival to Egan Bernal and both 21, was caught in a late crash requiring stitches to his hand.
The Route: 180.5km to the Beaujolais and a Belleville rendez-vous. The second half of the stage features many roads used in past editions of the Dauphiné and Paris-Nice and these are some fine roads to ride. Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux and other destinations are obvious draws but any readers driving down from northern Europe to these destinations should enjoy a day’s riding on these roads, numerous mountain passes can be linked together for a hilly and scenic ride with little traffic. The climbs here are often 5% and not much steeper so only out of condition sprinters should suffer here and if they can reach the top of the Col du Fût d’Avenas, an average of 5% but with a sustained 7% section from the middle on.
The Finish: five roundabouts in the final 5km including two after the flamme rouge before a 700m long finishing straight, a dead straight where the finish arch will look closer than it is, especially as there’s a small rise to the line in the final metres.
The Contenders: good roads for a breakaway but also for teams to chase them on too, the roads may rise but they’re wide and steady and the finish isn’t as suited to a late flurry. This is the last chance for the sprinters so it’s all in for several teams. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step) has the pure speed, can he cope with the climbs? Bryan Coquard could win but to repeat yesterday’s caution he’s yet to win in the World Tour and his Vital Concept team will be feeling the pressure, this is their audition for an invitation to the 2019 Tour de France. Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) was dropped as the stage started yesterday which doesn’t bode well for his condition but could just be down to a lack of a warm-up. One rider looking sharp is Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), third yesterday in the tricky finish means he looks the in-form pick.
|Jakobsen, Coquard, Bauhaus, EBH|
Weather: 21°C at most, with a high chance of rain showers along the way.
TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST.