Tour of the Basque Country – Stage 6 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of the Basque Country – Stage 6 Preview

By @EchelonsHub

Foto: Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

The fifth stage of the Itzulia saw another set off attacks, but this time without Primoz Roglic answering, there were gaps created. The stage win went to Carlos Rodríguez who joined the breakaway after a long battle, going solo in the penultimate climb and just managing to hold off the GC group. Evenepoel attacked the penultimate climb in the peloton, and a small group went off, making big differences and putting the Belgian in the yellow jersey as Roglic failed to join the group. 

Positive: Rodriguez taking his first pro win, Evenepoel taking over the lead are the biggest winners of the day. 

Negative: Adam Yates, David Gaudu but most importantly Primoz Roglic lost time after missing the decisive move, and took a big hit for the GC contention.

The Route 

136 kilometers only on the menu, however there are 3500 meters of climbing. It’s a traditional sight, the queen stage of the Itzulia will once again go up the Alto de Arrate where the biggest differences can be made, in what is a very explosive stage. The first 10 kilometers are flat, but from there on it becomes a gruesome day filled with climbing.  

The first hard bits come with 96 (2.8Km at 10.5%) and 83 (5.2Km at 7.3%) kilometers to go at the summit of the two hard opening ascents. Gorla (9.6Km at 5.6%) may not be the hardest climb of the day, but it’s descent is where last year Tadej Pogacar and Brandon McNulty were distanced and ended up sealing the race for Primoz Roglic. 

From there on the first climb of the day takes play which is the Krabelin, with 39 kilometers to go. No hiding, it’s a gruesome climb with very steep ramps where W/Kg is the only thing that matters. It’s not an overly long effort, but it’s the hardest climb of the race and serious attacks can come here. 

There will be a descent off the mountain and another climb that summits with 22 kilometers to go, which features 5 kilometers at 4.8%. Not hard, but at this stage any climb will hurt for sure. 

The finale of the stage and the race sees the riders go up Arrate once again. 4.6Km at 8.5%, the gradients aren’t hard but it’s nevertheless a hard climb, at the end of a very explosive day. At the summit, the race should be decided, the stage possibly not. There is a downhill finish where positioning is everything, to wrap off a hard week of racing. 

The Weather

Low temperatures and slight chance of rain to fall on the riders. Rain showers are definitely possible, I expect tough descents and perhaps attacks like last year as these roads are no joke even for pro riders. 

Breakaway chances: 20% 

I think they’re not high, because I expect an all-out GC battle tomorrow. The stage is short, there won’t be much distance for a breakaway to gain time, and from Krabelin onwards it will be quite complicated to resist as the strongest climbers will feel much more comfortable. 

The Favourites 

Daniel Martínez & Adam Yates – Only 2 seconds behind Evenepoel, surely Daniel Martínez won’t be racing aggressively, after the bonifications he’s gotten in the past few days. With Yates and a very strong team behind, Martínez should be comfortable in terms of support, what he needs is to control the rivals who are behind and then expect Evenepoel struggle in the many climbs the riders will find. 

Primoz Roglic & Jonas Vingegaard – Vingegaard 29 seconds down and Roglic 1:05. They have been in perfect control until today, they will have to attack tomorrow and they have nothing to loose. With no doubt they have the potential to blow up the race. 

Remco Evenepoel – In the lead today, he will have the pressure. Quick-Step have a strong team, however I doubt Evenepoel will have company after Krabelin, and Evenepoel despite being only 2 seconds in front of Martinez, will be the marked man. A bad position to be in towards this stage honestly, the climbs won’t be very good for him, I fear he’ll be raided. 

Aleksandr Vlasov – His tumble in the finale today was far from perfect for him, however he only sits 22 seconds away from Evenepoel and is absolutely in a position to be the overall winner of the race.  

Enric Mas – Having gotten into form, Mas will be a threat as he is a fan of the longer climbs the race will face tomorrow.  

Pello Bilbao – A stage win is in the pocket, but Bilbao is carrying some serious form and his kind of racing is perfect for a stage like this, where rain, descents and tactical chaos may be in the mix. 

Ion Izagirre – He’s won this race in the past, but honestly the third place he’s currently sitting on is a brilliant result for him taking into consideration the competition. Cofidis needs points aswell, so Izagirre won’t likely be taking too many risks, although he is a lover of wet descents. 

I would not expect a win from anyone else if it falls for the GC riders. The likes of David Gaudu, Rigoberto Uran and Marc Soler can perform well though and stay high in the GC. 

From a breakaway we could possible expect riders like Emanuel Buchmann, Gianluca Brambilla, Ruben Guerreiro, Cristián Rodríguez, Fernando Barceló, Kenny Elissonde, Victor Lafay and Diego Ulissi as possible cards.  

Inside The Bus 

This morning I talk to… 

#13 Gino Mäder – Let’s stay in the pack with Pello. He’s got a stage win, we’ll be fully focusing on the GC now and I want the team to race as a group and stay together. If possible, hit the front in the descents as they can be quite dangerous and Pello can make a difference in them, try to put some rivals under pressure. 

#135 Fernando Barceló – The form is good Fernando, it’ll be very hard but let’s try and get to the front. Breakaway is our priority, ideally we’ll have some more guys with you who can help your chances of surviving the climbs and maybe go for a good result.  

#162 Bruno Armirail – It’s time to hit the breakaway again Bruno, but in this day a stage win will be very complicated for a guy your size. You’ve been climbing incredibly though, and our hope is that you can help David late in the day. He’s won here last year he knows exactly what to do, but the GC is also a focus and to go up we must race offensively and not just stick to the wheels. 

Prediction Time 

⭐⭐⭐Roglic, Vingegaard, Martínez 

⭐⭐Vlasov, Bilbao, Mas 

⭐A.Yates, Evenepoel, I.Izagirre, Gaudu, Uran, Buchmann, Brambilla, Guerreiro, Cr. Rodríguez, Lafay 

It will be a brutal stage. My call for the win is Jonas Vingegaard, he’s looked brilliant so far in the race and with the longer climbs tomorrow alongside the bad weather, Vingegaard should have good legs and be capable of making the differences, specially as I think Roglic will not mind putting in some work for the Dane. 

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Tomorrow’s race has prizes of at least €200 and an entry fee of only €5. Make good use of your knowledge! 

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