Gien genie: a stage win for Stefan Bissegger, 83 hundredths of a second ahead of Rémi Cavagna. Cavagna was arguably the faster, just, but it was Bissegger who was the more fortunate because coming into the finish and a set of turns Cavagna found Kristian Sbaragli, who’d set off earlier, in his way, and had to brake before overtaking him on a turn. Such is luck and both riders should win more time trials this season. Among the GC contenders Primož Roglič was first, three seconds ahead of Brandon McNulty and there’s a good chance the Slovenian will take the yellow jersey today.
The Route: 188km south on a route that reads more like a wine menu than a bike race as it passes the Macon area and into the Beaujolais. There’s some early climbing to tempt a breakaway as the mountains competition is back on and then the day’s stage is dominated by the finishing circuit, with two laps around the Beaujolais vineyards with two climbs, two very different climbs. Mont Brouilly is the first and it’s been used in Paris-Nice before, it’s very steep in places and irregular, riders scale a wall only to reach a flat section where it’s hard to accelerate and then it’s into the next wall again. Most profiles can’t do it justice. Then it’s off the climb via a short descent and onto bigger roads and onto the next climb.
The second climb is an assemblage of local roads climbing via the the Col de Durbize before the finish line just below the Col du Fut d’Avenas and if it’s a longer, steadier climb it switches between roads on the way up several times rather than sticking to the main road up the hill. So it’s not a steady 6% but a variety of sections, a ramp up through the vineyard then a flatter traverse across, then another ramp up a narrow back road and it keeps on like this.
The Finish: at the top of the second climb, the final kilometre is on a main road and with two hairpin bends, they are wide and curve gently and it rises to the line at 6%.
The Contenders: an uphill sprint in a hilly finish? Meet Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and following yesterday’s time trial we know the form is good too. He’ll want the win and the 10 second time bonus that goes with it too. With still small gaps on GC – most of the field are within three minutes – there’s a good chance Jumbo-Visma deploy Tony Martin to contain any breakaway today and can use their climbers to try to control on the final circuit.
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is one of the few riders to have beaten Roglič in an uphill sprint (Tour de Romandie in 2019) and while he looks like a waif climber, he has some punch in his legs.
Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) needs things to go his way, if the climbs are taken at warp speed he’s in trouble but if he can hang in there then he’s got a good sprint. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain) can do plenty but uphill finishes are his speciality.
Neilson Powless (EF Education First) won’t be working to defend Bissegger’s lead as the Swiss rider will struggle and has a punchy finish; fellow American Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates) could be close. Sacha Vlasov (Astana) can feature too and Alexey Lutsenko should too his form isn’t the same as it was this time last year.
|David Gaudu, Dylan Teuns
|Schachmann, Powless, Lutsenko
Weather: a cloudy day and a top temperature of 11°C, no wind.
TV: coverage begins around 2.40pm CET, about the time they scale Mont Brouilly for the first time and the finish is forecast for 4.00pm CET. It’s on France 3 for locals and VPN users, or Eurosport/GCN for most of the rest of the world and NBC Sports Gold in the US. Tirreno-Adriatico starts today and today’s stage is a sprint finish and should finish around 4.00-4.20pm CET.