By David Hunter
Al Mussanah Sports City – Al Mussanah Sports City 158.5km
After a big stage 2 with GC action, stage 3 returns to the “calmness” of a bunch sprint.
The stage is relatively short and with Green Mountain coming in stage 4, everyone will want a relaxing day. In my preview for stage 1 I mentioned that some teams had good lead-out trains and others don’t. Delivered into a great position was Bouhanni, Boonen and Guardini. When Boonen launched his sprint, Bouhanni didn’t have the power to compete, but Guardini did! Will we see a repeat today?
The finish is easier than stage 1, with plenty of time for the trains to get organised. Again we should see Etixx, Giant, Cofidis, Orica and Astana lead the peloton inside the final kilometres. It should really be a rider from one of these teams winning the stage.
Tom Boonen is certainly looking good. He just missed out on winning stage 1, launching his sprint a touch early. I thought the days of him winning big sprints were over but I was wrong.
Cofidis and Bouhanni are just about to get things right. They are starting to resemble a proper sprint team. I do have slight concerns about where Bouhanni is just now. When Boonen launched, in stage 1, he didn’t have an answer. A one off?
Orica were unlucky in stage 1. They held good position but Adam Blythe got boxed in and lost his chance. He will have another opportunity here as the team will deliver him into a good position.
Giant lost their way, in stage 1. Ardnt and Sinkeldam got detached and Sinkeldam sprinted himself. If Arndt had remained on his wheel, he would have had a big chance. Giant don’t often get things wrong, they won’t make the same mistake in this stage.
After many stages of getting boxed in, Andrea Guardini, eventually got it right!
Sprinters like Pelucchi, Kristoff, Sagan, Bennett, Modolo, Demare and Van Poppel will all believe they have a chance. Out of this list Pelucchi and Kristoff are the best bets but lack of lead-out men will make it hard for them.
Demare, in particular, seems to be having a disastrous time of it just now. FDJ need to get their act together and fast.
A very tough one to call, but I see many positive signs from Cofidis and think that Bouhanni will seize his moment.
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