Paris-Nice Stage 6 Preview
Major surprise today as it was Simon Yates the rider taking the best of everyone else. The Mitchelton-Scott rider built on a TTT win in the previous day to make it two in a row, beating Nils Pollit and Michal Kwiatkowski.
Tom Scully had the first strong time of the day. He was an outsider and in the end of the day finished 8th. He set the time and was only beaten by Simon Yates eventually. From then on Yates faced the biggest threat very shortly in Pollit who finished second in the end, and from then on some EF riders (Martinez, Craddock and van Garderen) and Kwiatkowski but no-one had the legs to beat the time.
But with Yates out of the GC picture the biggest point of the day was to see the gaps that would be made between the GC contenders. The big winners were both Sky riders, both put on a massive time and occupy first and second place by some margin and now stand in a great position to win the race the 6th time in 8 years.
In the overall Kwiatkowski is leading Bernal by just 15 seconds, both the major climbers who would struggle today, Quintana and Bardet, rode a strong stage and are only 1:01 and 1:21 away from the lead respectively.
Second placed Nils Pollit is a perfect rider to analyze, weighting 80Kg and with a strong capacity to sustain a high power, with the lacking of top-notch competition he was always gonna be a favourite for the stage. Unfortunately for him there was a rider faster, one that capitalized on the stage's hilly areas to make the most out of his power.
Averaging these 448 watts for 30 minutes is a 5.6w/Kg, not a world-class performance but enough to almost earn him a victory, and from this data we can assume that Yates' average must've been around 330 watts, which is a huge difference. There are other factors that influenciate the rider's speed on the road (aerodynamics, drivetrain friction, strategy, etc) but there is no hiding the incredible race that Yates put on today.
A very transitional day, there isn't much that can be predicted about this day, it isn't hard enough to dispatch all the sprinters, but it isn't hard enough to see important attacks succeeding. Perhaps the bonus seconds with 4Km to go can trigger some riders into going on the offensive which is a good thing, but looking at the profile it doesn't really look like they would succeed.
This stage makes the connection to the Cote d'Azur and should be one either for a breakaway or a reduced bunch sprint.
This is definetely an alarm for everyone. If it was thought that those incredible days full of echelons were over... Tomorrow it's very likely we'll see some action again. Although the route is hillier than the other stages the first half of the stage is flat and it will likely be affected by very strong crosswinds for many kilometers.
The only relief there may exist is the fact that the last 15Km will develop in a block headwind, the only thing that may demotivate the attacks.
Another reduced bunch sprint, a day for the breakaway or lots of splits destroying the race?
It's hard to tell, but with such wind there is no denying it will shape the race, however it moves. With even the flat days seeing rouleurs fighting for victory tomorrow should see a similar shaping happening. If any climb could serve as an attacking platform it would be the first but that one is very far from the finish, so we must assume a sprint will take place to decide the winner as a solo or little group attack will suffer a lot in the final portion of the stage.
So with it being said, Sky should look like a proper bet, Kwiatkowski's terrain, Sky has been the instigator of the echelons mainly so in any scenario they should be up there. Deceuninck should also be considered, Gilbert is in great form and is also a rider that will benefit from the rugged terrain.
Not to ignore that this is a profile that should fit a breakaway very well, but with such windy conditions it's hard to consider it succeeding. In another scenario of a more compact arrival Sonny Colbrelli and Matteo Trentin are the two big riders to consider as they were the ones who climbed the best yesterday. Coquard and Cort Nielsen two other great possibilities.
We also must consider the chance of the wind not destroying the race, even with that possibility Gronewegen is a long shot as he is far from a sprinter who can climb, Sam Bennett and Fabio Jakobsen are in the same situation. Caleb Ewan can climb but the problem is that the climbs aren't short, if they're pushed none of those sprinters should be able to keep up.
⭐ S.Bennett, Gilbert, Jungels, Cortina, LL.Sanchez, Démare, Degenkolb, Laporte
My bet goes to Matteo Trentin for tomorrow. Mitchelton is having a great run in the last few days which should bring him motivation, he his a very strong rider in the crosswinds, can climb very well and has a very strong sprint. He is an ideal rider for tomorrow without windy conditions, but perhaps they make him even more of a favourite for the win.
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