Why This Stage Is Gonna Hurt!
Uphill From Kilometer Zero
(A possible Scenario)
These Stages are what we have Nightmares about. "We" being Sprinters.
There will be talks on the Bus whether or not we should warm up before the start. Its a snowball effect...we are all very tired by Stage 9...there is a fair amount of CBF floating around and all of us will be happy when this day is over.
You look out the Bus window....S##T...all of Team SKY and Orica are warming up!
Are they serious? Are they really going to do this?
Ah man! OK..Yes please...Ill jump on the Ergo also please. Next thing you know you have done a full TT warm up. Snowball effect...whole team warming up bar Thomas de Gendt.
"Right...I'll be good as Wood now!"
Roll to the start line. No food in the pockets so I weight 1kg less.
1k after the flag drops I am slowly but surely slipping backwards as I get passed by 100 or more guys. I keep checking my power meter...450 450 440 460...I cant go any harder because I will blow completely and get dropped even further.
Only 9k to go to the Summit...Cmon...please Groupetto form....
4km in and I'm dead last. Holding on for dear life.
"Thank goodness I warmed up on the Ergo" NOT! Could of had another coffee. Or...maybe I would be that one guy...see below.
Finally it snaps. A gap in the Peloton 20guys in front means we have a large group to ride hard together...50w less...but altogether with the one common goal. Catch back to the Peloton when the break has finally established.
After Summitting at 11km at about 2 or 3min behind we hear in the Radio..."Good Job Thomas, just through and off...no more than anyone else"
What! He started last wheel, didn't warm up, and he is in the Break...kidding me! Time to retire? Nah...rest day soon...I'll come good.
Ok...let's rail this descent.
Hard to tell you how fast Sprinters can go downhill but trust me...we will make back the 3min no problem before we start the next climb if the typical scenario has played out. Typical scenario being a group of 6 to 10 has managed to stay clear over the top and the GC teams have stopped chasing it.
Worst case scenario is....nothing has stuck...the Peloton is still racing and it wont go until we(they) hit the next HC climb. This is going to be an exceptionally hard day if that is the case.
Most likely though, the Break went, and we are back on at or before kilometre 50. Now we should be OK. If we can get over the Grand Colombier with the Peloton then we are home free. We will sit up at the base of the final climb...I always do a quick calculation of the time cuts for average speeds...recheck these with the following car...and ride a steady pace that will allow for us to finish the day off.
As for the race...
The break has been allowed 6min or so. Maybe a bit more. Nobody serious on GC will be allowed to go up the road. The GC teams will be churning out a ridiculously fast tempo and slowly the field will get smaller and smaller. With 5k to go on the final climb the attacks begin.Its not until the final 2k that a serious GC boy makes his move. He launches across to his teammate that he has in the break and they attempt to put valuable distance into the chasing team(s).
Here is the problem...numbers...depth in numbers...strength in numbers. The top team will have 6 guys left riding at a threshold that would make your eyes roll back in your head for good.
So when the descent begins they will still have 3 guys and some help from other teams that will enable them to catch the GC attack and all but one guy from the breakaway.
A couple GC guys dropped...get back on and Thomas de Gendt has held on to win from the breakaway. All in all a hard days racing but, other than the 1 guy who is having the worst day of his life on the bike and is first dropped at kilometre 0, everyone should get through OK.
Hope you enjoyed my inner monologue and a possible scenario of the stage. The only prediction was the winner.