Volta a Catalunya 2021 – Stage 6 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Volta a Catalunya 2021 – Stage 6 Preview

By David Hunter

Tarragona > Mataró 202.5km

A sprint stage, but where are all the sprinters?

We have 2415m of climbing, so it isn’t pan flat, but it rarely is in this part of the world. With only a handful of sprinters in the race, the stage ending in a sprint isn’t a foregone conclusion.

The opening kilometres of the day are actually filled with little ramps as the bunch turn off the coast road and head inland. If you’ve ever been on holiday over here you’ll know what I mean. Remember walking back from the beach to your apartment! There are lots of opportunities for riders to jump in the morning break, I doubt it will simply roll off the front.

Once the break has gone we only have two teams who’ll potentially chase, Bora and DSM, but DSM only have five riders left in the race which means the responsibility to chase will be on the shoulders of Bora – hansgrohe. This means the breakaway riders will sense a real chance to upset the fast men, just one team chasing certainly swings things in the favour of the attackers. If it does come back together, the last 16km offers more opportunities for those not wanting a sprint.

Finale

With 16km to go the bunch tackle this little kicker, it’s 2.4km at 4.3%, and classified as a cat 3. It’s not hard, but provides an opportunity for riders to attack from the bunch, especially as once over the crest it’s downhill to the finishing town.

The final 5km also has a few surprises in store.

The bunch comes flying into town, the first thing to negotiate is this roundabout with 2.5km to go. Going on the right-hand side is clearly the right thing to do. In the picture you can see the road rising after the roundabout, not great if you’re trying to stop attacks.

With 2.2km to go we have another roundabout, and this picture gives a good indication of the gradient.

Just before the flamme rouge we have another roundabout, the bunch take a tight left turn at this point, and the speed will be very high as they come down a fast descent.

This leads straight into 500m of climbing, before another roundabout.

This comes with just 500m left in the stage. The left side could be the shortest, but it’s very hard to tell. This finish isn’t easy.

Weather

Cloudy, but with nice temperatures. The wind will be around 15km/h, coming from the south means quite a lot of tailwind in the opening half of the stage.

DS Cycling Mole

I’m back with Bora – hansgrohe after today’s success.

Lenny, that’s exactly what I told you to do, well done. Now boys, this stage is harder than it seems. Everyone is going to lean on us to chase the break, as they rest of the sprinters are shit. We’ll see what happens, we’re not fools. If the break is small, we get to work. Peto, do you want to sprint? Do you want to let young Jordi have a shot? I think we’ll let you decide on the road. Come on boys, let’s get two in a row!

Contenders

Jordi Meeus – I’ve been impressed by his first races in the pro ranks, the kid is fast. Bora will have to make a decision about whether they go for him or Sagan, but I hope they go with their youngster. Holding the race together certainly won’t be easy, but if we get a sprint then Meeus would be my favourite to take the win, especially if Sagan is on lead out duties.

Peter Sagan – he is Bora’s big star, which reduces the chances of Meeus being allowed to sprint. To be honest, both riders are probably faster than Kanter, which doesn’t make working out who they’ll go for any easier. If Peter wants it, it’s his.

Max Kanter – this is a big chance to take his first pro win. DSM don’t have the riders to chase all day, especially as they need to leave men for the final 20km. Kanter has a very fast finish, but we don’t often get to see it. Two 3rd places in last year’s Vuelta was an indication that there is more to come from him, he’ll be praying for a sprint and a chance to get his first big one.

Juan Molano – another rider who’ll be praying for a sprint finish. He rarely gets an opportunity to sprint for himself, especially at this level, but he is fast. UAE don’t really have a team to chase, they’ll be hoping Bora do that and they can look to put Molano into a good position for the final sprint.

JJ Lobato – one of the stories we’ll look back in years to come. The amazingly talented Basque sprinter who blew his chance at being a top-level cyclist. Lobato is a very fast sprinter, but these days we rarely get to see him challenging for wins. I would dearly love to see him smashing this sprint and reminding everyone just how good he is.

Clément Venturini – nice and consistent, but doesn’t win many bunch sprints.

Thomas De Gendt – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Remi Cavagna – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Bob Jungels – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Callum Scotson – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Prediction Time

Do Bora have what it takes to firstly make sure the break is weak, and secondly put it on a leash all day long? I’m really not sure. If they do bring it back, who will they sprint for? I’ll just go for a Thomas De Gendt victory.

David Hunter

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