A trip along the Danish coast, today’s stage will be a nervous one because the wind could get up. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of danger because everyone wants to be at the front to avoid trouble so the pressure is on to fight for position which increases the danger and so on. There’s also the spectacular Great Belt Bridge across the sea just before the finish.
A Bicyclette, Yves Montant, : the Little Mermaid statue in Denmark might rank among the Copenhagen’s most overrated tourist attractions, a small bronze statue perched on a rock where the icy Baltic sea meets the Langelinie coastal embankment, and perhaps the most common reaction it elicits must be “is that it?”. Yesterday it was the place to be, the promenade was the most tricky part of the course and spectators – and there were plenty everywhere – got to see riders sliding and gliding through the bends, at one point slowing down to 20km/h.
Yves Lampaert caused the upset with the win. An excellent time triallist but not a big winner, the sort you’d tip to win the TT stage of the Driedaagse De Panne, but the Tour? Yes, and the likes of Van Aert, Ganna and Van der Poel were gobbled up like smørrebrød. The weather had begun to turn but Lampaert still had soaked roads and didn’t seem to be taking wild risks either, he just muscled his way around the course. It means Quick-Step will be up for defending the jersey as their job today is to set up Fabio Jakobsen for the win and erase memories of a missed spring campaign.
Among the GC contenders Pogačar was the best, finishing third – quicker than Ganna – and beat Vingegaard and Roglič by eight seconds but the latter was visibly taking it safe through many corners. Adam Yates was the surprise, better than Geraint Thomas, who started the course still sporting his gilet having forgotten to remove it before the start.
The Route: 200km and a maritime feel. The stage starts in Roskilde, a city that celebrates the old Viking ships and does a mean export of pro cyclists, the Roskilde Cycle Ring junior club has had 14 of the 24 Danish pros in the World Tour according to L’Equipe. It’s along the Fjordlandet coast and around to Høve for three short climbs to help get the mountains competition started with one point each, win two and a rider will take the polka-dot jersey; if three different riders win then the best rider overall gets the jersey. The third climb is the longest and the hardest as it’s on a smaller road and starts from a sharp turn.
Once the climbs are done and with about 100km to go there are more coastal road as the course twists and turns from one seaside village to the next, often on smaller roads which take the race towards a beach and then back to a main road. There were lots of crashes last year one hypothesis was that because everyone was still tied on time for GC so everyone was fighting for position. Today we’ll see if yesterday’s time trial will have calmed things down, or if it’s just the pressure of the Tour de France that’s to blame. This is ideal crosswind country.
With 21km to go comes the big feature of the day, the Storebæltsbroen, the 18km “Big Belt Bridge”, a concrete tightrope. Part of it is elevated via a suspension bridge in order to let maritime traffic underneath, the longer part on stilts is flat. It’s an express road normally closed to cyclists – you take the train if you want to cross by bike – and much of the road is barely above sea level and it’s all exposed to the slightest sea breeze.
The Finish: after the 3km to go point it’s off the bridge and the express road down a sliproad to the right, then along the coast to pass under the flamme rouge. Then comes a left turn and crossing back over the express road, a bump in the road not shown on the profile above and an awkward up and down for sprint trains, it’s barely a climb but these small things can disrupt lead outs, before a dash to the line.
The Contenders: Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step) is in form, has an impressive win rate and his team offers plenty of power and support, they’ll be all in for him today without having to spare resources to protect a GC leader.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) ought to be the best sprinter in the world as he’s so fast and versatile with it too. But he’s stacked it in the Tour, did it again in the Giro and and also doesn’t have a full lead out train. Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) has a similar story, he’s been as consistent of late but if he wins it’ll feel perfectly natural.
The local pick is Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) but don’t call him a sprinter, he’ll hope the race is ripped to shreds and many sprinters are left ragged by the finish. The problem for him is that if this happens then Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is likely to be there and if he’s there because the group’s been distilled down to a few hitters, then bonjour Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) too.
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) can win on any terrain but the problem is beating the top names cited already. He can do it, or he’ll be close. Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty) could be in the mix for a sprint, maybe Alberto Dainese (DSM) too but his Giro stage win is still a surprise.
|Dylan Groenewegen, Caleb Ewan, WvA|
|Philipsen, Pedersen, MvdP, Kristoff|
Weather: 22°C with clouds and sunshine. More importantly, two out of three wind models say a 30-35km breeze from the SW, meaning a headwind on the big bridge but frequent crosswinds for the coastal sections between 100km and 20km to go. One other wind forecast says a headwind for the coastal approach roads and a crosswind for the bridge.
TV: it starts at 12:15 CET and the finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST. Tune in from 3.00pm to catch any crosswind action and see the images of the bridge.