Pest > Buda: well Simon Yates hasn’t come to Hungary to sip the tokaji and taste some goulash. Italians Eduoardo Affini and Matteo Sobrero were among those to enjoy a spell at the top of the leader board. Tom Dumoulin was the first to go under 12 minutes but never got to sit in the hotseat because Yates was even quicker at the intermediate check and then put five seconds into Dumoulin by the finish. It meant he was two, three or four seconds faster per kilometre than all his rivals. We’ll see what he does on Etna next, stomp on the pedals or hold back? Among the GC riders there were no collapses, but Miguel Angel Lopez was 42 seconds down, Guillaume Martin at 45 seconds and Emanuel Buchmann 57 seconds but he had a crash so must be in form if he could keep his losses to less than a minute to Yates.
The Route: 201km starting in Kaposvar, home to the Kometa pork-processing company that’s a co-sponsor of the Eolo-Kometa team. The late climb before Tihany not going to trouble any sprinters, a couple of clicks on the shift lever and it’s done.
The Finish: a dragstrip finish, as flat as a Gundel and on a wide road with no bends. Normally there’s a roundabout to clear with 1km to go, we’ll see if it’s still there.
The Contenders: Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) is the obvious pick, a chance to correct that crash. We know he’s one of the world’s best sprinters but he’s not had a solid season so far but the fact he crashed so close to the line and the win suggests the form’s there. He’ll still be sore and may not be sleeping as well, plus the worry that he’s prone to “all or nothing” so he’s getting three chainrings today but only just. His team have a useful lead out train but there’s no Jasper de Buyst.
Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step) does have his leadout in Michael Mørkøv and while the team looks like they’ll be hunting for wins from the breakaways too, the sprint’s surely their best chance.
Arnaud Démare is the only big name sprinter still searching for a win this season after Sam Bennett delivered a home win for his Bora-hansgrohe team in Frankfurt. Démare’s had problems losing his train over the past two seasons but the straight finale should help here, if anything his train is so big and bulky they don’t tend to finesse things and rivals can hop aboard too.
Biniam Girmay (Intermarché) has been contesting bunch sprints but he’d surely like a tougher course and a more selective finish, he can place for points but a dragstip bunch sprint isn’t his finish.
Fernando Gaviria (UAE) still on a comeback of sorts but is close to a big win. Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain) can pop up for a win. DSM have two riders in Cees Bol and Alberto Dainese where Bol could be a formidable leadout but he’s also more proven for a high level finish.
Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel) isn’t a superstar sprinter but Mastiff of Brianza’s had a Giro win in his career and could be close. Given the form he’s in and that he’s said aloud he wants to finish the race, you’d think Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) should be in the mix for the win but the team have brought Jakub Mareczko who is fast in a flat finish (and not on a hilly day) so do both sprint?
|Bauhaus, Gaviria, MvdP, Démare|
|Nizzolo, Bol, Mareczko|
Weather: mainly cloudy and 22 °C
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in to see the images of Lake Balaton and watch the sprint trains rumble like rush hour into Howrah.
Stage 3b: a flight for the riders to Catania in Sicily, for some team staff there’s a 1,900km road trip via Slovenia and down the Italian peninsular to the Messina strait and beyond.