Tour de Pologne Stage 7 Preview
In Zakopane there is always chaos. Although the finish wasn't exactly there the roads were known of the riders, and the tough circuit made the damage expected. The stage was full-on from the start, it took quite some time for the break to form as riders like Ulissi and Powless, eventually it did go but in the penultimate lap chaos set in the peloton due to a brutal pace by Jumbo-Visma. Ben Swift took an agressive race and made the group split in the penultimate climb of the day from where Vingegaard, Sivakov and Hindley attacked and passed him. The trio resisted the chasing group and fought for the win where the Dane took a brilliant sprint win and takes over the lead. In a stage where the situation was constantly changing it was a very exciting stage and for tomorrow a lot of show is promised, the gaps are small and everyone will be attacking the lead.
Positive: Jumbo showed themselves very well and Vingegaard did perfect, capitalized on great work. Hindley was also a very good surprise, INEOS raced very strongly aswell and Sivakov is still in a very good position to take the race. Sunweb and Deceuninck have also raced well strategically and bring results.
Negative: Astana, although Izagirre is still in the fight he lost 3 seconds on the "peloton", it's not a disaster but Kudus and Miguel Angel Lopez did a whole lot of work for him and there was nothing to bring from that. Bahrain in a small level but also Movistar completely missed the important moves.
The final day finally is the classic circuit around Bukowina, it's the queen stage and experience here will be as important as the power. The climbs are hard but not mountains, there is room for surprises, specially as it's the last day and there are lots of riders looking to move up and likely lots still with the goal of winning the race. There will be two circuits with the full set of climbs.
Both of these are relatively mild in terms of average gradient but both have quie a hard section in them. The final summit of both of them come with 47 and 23 kilometers to the finish, with a passing through the finish line in the middle. The attacks will likely show up here, there's some hard gradients to attack and the final climb may not be hard enough for some riders who will be looking to attack.
The final climb to the Bukowina ski resort is well known, a straightforward 4 kilometer ascent that's in my opinion Poland's most famous climb at this point, it hosts the queen stage every year and has seen Wout Poels and Simon Yates as the last winners here. It's the final climb and final moments of the race, meaning it will be a dramatic finish to the race right up until the final meters.
Not a hot day at all, mild temperature but the wind will be felt, 10/15Km/h with 40Km/h gusts from the west, the final climb will be somewhat covered from the wind but the penultimate climb and run-up to the final climb it'll be a pure tailwind which will motivate the attacks to come, it's a sure thing.
As today a breakaway isn't a realistic possibility, however today several riders were moving really early into the day with dangerous moves, but there was a lot of balance between the stronger riders so the gaps were neutralized. Tomorrow the recurrent climbing won't be as steep, not as favourable for general confusion but towards the final lap there will surely be moves coming from far, specially from teams with several riders still in contention such as INEOS, Sunweb and Bora.
INEOS got the upper hand today, Swift was very strong and put everyone under pressure whilst Sivakov and Hart covered the moves, including the successful one. However, Sivakov didn't get the lead, and he can't count on bonifications to win the race so INEOS will have to race agressively again. They just have to repeat the process, put the other teams under pressure but with a focus on Sivakov. Bora have both riders on a step back so they are obbligated to attack, from far, Majka should be more spared and Formolo more agressive accoring to their attributes and the way they climbed today with Majka looking the strongest. As for Sunweb Chris Hamilton looked superb today as I expected, but it was Jay Hindley who was a big big surprise riding so well, he is well within the GC fight, I think he has room to ride more conservative as he was likely not planning being in this place currently, either Hamilton can help Hindley or he can be a vital card in case Hindley has the legs to attack.
Sergio Higuita was caught out today in a vital move, luckily he got back but then proved he also has the legs, including a final dash to the line that gave him some seconds over the main favourite group. In that group were also Pierre Latour, Diego Ulissi and James Knox, the first two held on with pure power and tomorrow will be in a good position aswell, they just lack a secondary leader or as much support from the team as some of their rivals. Not to ignore, obviously, Vingegaard. It's the unknown, the quality is obviously there so it's a matter of knowing how he'll recover and how the team will be able to defend him tomorrow. The downside is that every alliance he may make will be on the spot, there's virtually no rider with the legs to win that will want to work with him, everyone will want to attack him and as Jumbo will want a conservative race there will surely be a constant group moving along.
There are still some more riders within contention, and there is room for surprises to come from behind, Astana will want to race agressively, today they didn't pull of their strategy but tomorrow will be an all-in for Izagirre and he may benefit from the confidence and possible opportunity. Simon Geschke and Petr Vakoc were out all day today, both looked very strong. There are riders still occupying the Top25 that looked good today but on the limit, holding on for dear life whilst it looked like some riders were holding back due to teammates. So outside of the riders that finished in the first groups today I doubt there will be anyone coming in to seriously trouble the race.
⭐ Vingegaard, Latour, Formolo, Knox, Izagirre
And I think Sivakov will win tomorrow and win the race. With Swift and mainly Hart there is no lack of power in the team, Hart looks as good as him but the lead Sivakov got today will mean the goal will really be to take the Russian to the win.
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