A breakaway or a bunch sprint? Today’s stage isn’t as hard as a profile suggests but it’s more difficult that the roadbook says. Which might just suit the breakaway…
Torque that: an early break with a difference, Richie Porte decided to play cannon fodder for a day, a chance to stretch the legs, show the jersey and prove he’s back in the race. He and two others were duly caught. The forecast wind got up and then a late crash made the peloton more nervous and probably roused thousands from their siesta as the action started. The flat terrain and crosswind were perfectly exploited in the final kilometres by Quick Step and Bora-Hansgrohe but if they split the bunch it only caught out Thibaut Pinot and Wilco Kelderman, the latter undone by a broken wheel. In the end Nacer Bouhanni won, avenging the “fake news” story of the morning that he’d banged on the team car – real story, he took a sticky bottle – and that’s often his way as he wins when his back is up against the wall. Finally Cofidis get the World Tour win they and their €10 million budget have been chasing and based on the sprint Bouhanni could well strike again.
The Route: 185km and 2,115 metres of vertical gain according to the roadbook… but 2,600 vertical metres if you trace the route yourself. After 135km the race reaches Pozo Alcón and crosses the finish the wrong way to head out on a loop and heads south for 10km on the main road. Then it turns and takes a small road north before reaching a bigger road for the run to the foot of the climb of the day, the Alto de Ceal. Listed as 4.5km at 5.4% it’s really a 6km climb and there’s a steep and twisty section but it’s short before the race picks up the road back into town.
The Finish: the profile says it’s uphill to the line for 5km – there’s a theme here – but it’s barely a drag up, we’re talking 1-2% until the final corner when with 300m to go and it kicks up at 3% to the line.
The Contenders: a breakaway or sprint? This should be another chance for the sprinters, the terrain is hard going but there aren’t the obvious set piece places to tempt the climbers. So for a breakaway think of the baroudeurs like Alexis Gougeard, Thomas de Gendt and Simon Clarke again while perhaps the likes of Alessandro de Marchi and Bauke Mollema hold tight ahead of the mountains this weekend.
If not then Elia Viviani and Quick Step will be keen to make amends for messing up the sprint finish yesterday, the Italian was too far back but still showed speed in the final 50 metres. Nacer Bouhanni should be close again while all the climbing might blunt the legs of Danny van Poppel. Matteo Trentin and Mitchelton-Scott may see today as the perfect chance given the hilly finish and uphill run to the line while UAE-Emirates Simone Consonni is an Italian version of Brian Coquard, 60kg of pure speed.
|Elia Viviani, Nacer Bouhanni, Matteo Trentin|
|Nizzolo, Consonni, De Gendt, Clarke|
Weather: hot and sunny, 33°C
Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST.