• Rúben Silva

Binck Bank Tour Stage 7 Preview

It was a time-trial that saw the experts put on a real show and the GC contenders give out their all to come into the final stage as good as possible. The wind played a part, and early starter Filippo Ganna took advantage of it but he had no shortage of power, storming to his first WorldTour win, beating yet another Italian talent Edoardo Affini by 5 seconds and Jos van Emden by 8. As for the GC Stefan Kung was the strongest but there were several riders in the Top10 defending themselves well with Soren Kragh Andersen, Laurens de Plus and Tim Wellens sneaking in. Despite a great time Wellens now leads Hirchi by 8 seconds and 12 over de Plus so the gaps are still really small between the main contenders.

Positive: Hirschi defended himself very well, Felline and Kung putting on big digs up the GC alongside Soren Kragh Andersen.

Negative: The Deceuninck riders were again below average, sitting currently 15th and 18th they are a long way back.

The Route

And the final day as it's been tradition takes place in Flandres with the Geraardsbergen/Bosberg circuit, one of the most iconic combinations in cycling and one that can make or break the race. Ever since 2015 the race as finished in Geraardsbergen and with good reason, with the combination of cobbled, steep climbs in succession there is always a guarranteed show. Although there's the Denderoondstraat (700 meters at 5.4%) summiting with 5.5 kilometers to go, the day's focus will be on these.

The Muur, 1.1Km at 7.9% with a nasty 20% into the chappel, one of cycling's landmarks and a place where the favourites will go all-out with no exception, in these gradients there's no such thing as saving yourself. The final summit will come with 25 kilometers to go.

And the Bosberg, a draining climb, one for the powerful riders, it's doable by pace but quite hard with 9% in the cobbles to the summit, last of which with 19.5Km to go, lots of attacks and the groups will be spread out on the road.

And then the finish in the streets of Geraardsbergen, it doesn't include the full climb, and although it's still a finish for the fast men, it's between those that resist, the puncheurs/classics specialists that make it through will have a long draining sprint up the tricky uphill finish.

The Weather

There will be a very heavy period of rain just before or at the start of the stage in Geraardsbergen and around, the riders may be lucky and avoid it depending on the time they start but the roads will be quite wet and slick. As for the rest of the afternoon the rain will slow down but yes grey skies and wet roads are the forecast.

The Favourites

As the norm goes this isn't a day for the breakaway, it's a day where the attacks are bound to come early on from those looking to gain back time on the overall, and where the final battles will occur, allies come aplenty so it's never been easy ground to keep the gaps on, so either a very small group or a small bunch sprint is to be expected in Geraardsbergen.

On the attacking side we should see a lot from Sunweb and Jumbo-Visma, both have their main men in the Top3 for now but with Teunissen, Kragh Andersen and Tusveld both teams have cards to play early on so as to be able to spare their leaders, which aren't cobbled experts so their teammates may play out better with a supporting role, it will become clear once they reach the decisive part of the stage. Deceuninck will likely try to blow up the race too, it has gone far from the expected so far, Zdenek Stybar and Florian Senechal seem like the only two riders that are sharp for tomorrow, more from Stybar I would expect something big tomorrow, he's won here and has won the race aswell, and at this point he has nothing to loose.

Greg van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke and Oliver Naesen are bound to go on the attack tomorrow, not only do they have a lot of ground to cover, they all have their teams backing them up and are riding on home roads. Michael Valgren and Ivan Garcia Cortina should also be very interesting riders tomorrow if the last few days are anything to go by.

There are lots of jokers from there on, first there's Stefan Kung but as the stage includes quite some steep climbs it's far from his best terrain if they're attacked, but riders like Fabio Felline who are well within the GC fight and are an incognite, riders like Dylan van Baarle and Mads Pedersen aren't exactly there but they should like the terrain tomorrow and are always cards upon which one can rely on, Theuns from Trek too but as Felline is their only GC hope they will have some thinking to do. Finally some riders as Jens Debusschere and Jasper Philipsen could be a surprise if we can so call it that, they're good for these short efforts and in the case of a sprint they could be jokers, they won't be marked and don't have the pressure from anyone.

Prediction Time

Naesen, Stybar, Cortina

Teunissen, Wellens, van Avermaet, Hirschi, Valgren

De Plus, SK.Andersen, Senechal, Gilbert, Vanmarcke, Kung, Pedersen, Debusschere

I'm going with a win for Mike Teunissen though, his kind of racing, he's proven to be able to rock over this type of climb, he's a card but very strong by himself, definetely he'll be on the attack tomorrow but even a small group finish would really favour him.

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