Tour de France Stage 3 Preview
Jumbo-Visma took an expected and mightily dominant win in the race's TT, crushing INEOS' long-standing time by 20 seconds, the same gap it took from 2nd to 9th (over actually). Deceuninck finished third in a strong display as did some teams suprising positively, who were they?
Positive: Teunissen keeping yellow and Kruisjijk wining serious time on several riders, 10/10 for the team so far, dominant win. Thomas/Bernal/Mas with seriously fast times too. Katusha and CCC, 4th and 7th respectively with very fast and surprising times, FDJ with a solid time limiting losses as was Astana, as Fuglsang seems recovered from his crash.
Negative: Movistar, Trek and AG2R the clear loosers of the day, all lost over a minute and lost a lot of time in a stage where several teams managed to limit their losses brilliantly. These didn't, Quintana/Landa/Porte/Bardet are already coming with a big gap back to some of the main men.
A tense stage follows, stage 3 to Épernay may be one of the most dangerous, with a classic's look to it with some short and steep climbs in the last portion of the stage. The first around 150 kilometers are very flat with no dificulties but from there on it will be a lumpy stage, where tension will be felt positioning for the climbs where crashes may happen. In the climbs themselves there may be attacks, but it shouldn't be a stage escaping the toughest sprinters, after all, here they come with some of their best possible support.
The final kilometers are somewhat hard, but that little climb is straightforward exactly as the descent, that not being that steep means that it isn't a finish suited for the attackers, and seeing that only the final 500 meters come uphill it's too short of a climb for a late attack, and the sprinters, those that survive, will go for victory in what will be a very long sprint.
Quite interesting, there's a tailwind all day long which actually gives some credibility for the breakaway theory. The teams will know of this of course, but if a strong group gets away and then play their cards well it's not to discard, the final climb will have a tailwind to it aswell, unlike the run-up to it which should favour the sprint scenario even more.
The weather favours a break but several teams will want to prevent that, starting with Jumbo who in Teunissen have a clear contender to win another stage in yellow, with van Aert also showing conditions to be a perfect helper for him.
In the sprinter field there's lots of riders in with a chance, first of all I'll mention that they will be the ones chasing likely, Bora and Sunweb AT LEAST will commit to chasing and getting a group finish, from them obviously emerge Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews and both have good support, Bora's side specially with riders like Konrad and Schachmann that also fit perfectly to the finale.
Sonny Colbrelli as looked very good so far, the finish is also perfect for him the only issue is really the competition, but I see him in with a serious shot of winning the stage, as Mike Teunissen himself who is good for these classic-like stages and is very strong on the uphill finishes. Caleb Ewan and Matteo Trentin are incognites, both can certainly deal with these finishes but there's some hardness before, Trentin is reliable but doesn't seem to have the top power, Ewan is the opposite. Edvald Boasson Hagen is another good name to consider, just needs better legs than in the opening stage.
Julian Alaphillipe should be Deceuninck's bet for tomorrow, Viviani can climb these short pitches but I think it's too much for him and Alaphillipe in any scenario should fit better, he leads a category well fitted to the stage, those of the puncheurs, Alberto Bettiol and Tim Wellens come to mind really quick.
CCC's Patrick Bevin and Greg van Avermaet should also love the finish, it's very suited for both and as a duo they can prove very dangerous, if I'm to add some climbers who can definetely be up there I would consider Bernal, Adam Yates and Daniel Martin, with a steep finish the GC riders will give their best to finish up front and infiltrating the Top10 should come as normal.
⭐ Trentin, Ewan, Schachmann, Bevin, van Avermaet, Bettiol, Wellens
I'm going with Peter Sagan, looks in with good form and the finish is ideal, alongside team support which will almost have no comparison. Teunissen to keep yellow, I expect him to be in for the fight again but ultimately Sagan does have the top speed in such a finish.
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