By David Hunter
Nijmegen – Arnhem 190km
Our last day in Holland and some riders will really hope that the wind blows. Thanks to his win today, Marcel Kittel has a chance of taking the pink jersey.
As you would expect, it’s another flat day in the saddle. The wind is the only problem.
Another sunny day, but with the wind coming from ESE, it is perfect for some crosswind action as we head towards Arnhem. There is a possibility of echelons.
If a team really wants to put the hammer down, they should do it just after the cat 4 climb. The final half of the climb is around 9%, so sprinters will drop a few positions in the bunch. Soon after, the road changes direction and we hit the wind. With sprinters at the back of the bunch, a split would end their day. It certainly gives an opportunity to some of the teams with sprinters that can climb at the front of the bunch. Lotto Jumbo look like the team with the most to gain.
It’s another circuit and quite easy. The last big turn is with 2.5km to go, but there is a pinch point inside the final kilometre. The long finishing straight will allow teams to get organised and should suit the squads with the longer sprint trains.
Marcel Kittel – so strong today, what a gap he got. A podium spot will move him into pink and he looks a certainty to get it. His team were also great, lining up exactly as I expected. Jungels is a brilliant rider to have at number 5, he can hit the front with ease. All the riders behind him in the train are also seriously quick, meaning that Kittel will be near the front inside the final kilometre. As everyone could see today, his power is incredible. The German, is going to be hard to beat.
Andre Greipel – I’ll be honest, he was rubbish today. Long term readers will know of my love for Lotto and the Gorilla, it hurts to see him finishing so far down. The Lotto boys will evaluate and come back fighting. He is the only rider fast enough to beat Kittel.
Moreno Hofland – a solid 4th today, that was a good result for him. He, and his team, have one last chance to win in front of their home fans. The potential echelons are great news for Jumbo, but they really need to drop a few of the quick men.
Sacha Modolo – continued his good form with a 3rd place today. Ferrari did a really good job, but they do need another man. Has a solid chance of another podium.
Arnaud Demare – FDJ were great today, the only ones to challenge Etixx. Yes, Demare was smoked by Kittel, but at least he was there. Demare won’t mind if there’s some wind in the air.
I expect to see some teams trying to split the race. Kittel has never been brilliant in the wind, but now riding for Etixx, he will be hard to drop. That climb does represent an opportunity for sprinters who can climb a bit. I think that they should try to create echelons as the road turns soon after the crest. The main teams looking to benefit will be Lotto and Jumbo, riding for Greipel and Hofland. Despite his performance today, I will go with Andre Greipel. I don’t see Kittel getting it all his own way!
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