Tour of California Stage 3 Preview
Kasper Asgreen took the win on a magnificent stage, filled with climbing the stage to South Lake Tahoe was bombed with attacks in the final 70 kilometers, with EF mainly taking the initiative. That group was chased and reeled in with some 30Km to go, but soon enough another group would jump clear from the reduced pack in what was the decisive move. The race situation kept changing multiple times, but when it got to the final climb Kasper Asgreen launched his move in the final meters, gapping and mantaining over Tejay van Garderen and Gianni Moscon. Pogacar finished 4th about 10 seconds later, and they won around 20 seconds to the other pre-race favourites George Bennett and Richie Porte, who were always on the backhand when the attacks surged.
Positive: EF. Morton, Craddock, van Garderen, Higuita, Uran, they were all there. Always making and marking the moves, tomorrow EF have a chance to destroy the race if they play out well. Pogacar resisted their attacks and gained valuable time which may be crucial for him too.
Negative: Porte and Bennett missed all the moves which not only cost time but will weigh on their legs this week, Dennis saw himself on the first big move and looked strong but then missed the opportunity of the big move.
This stage will also be familiar, most of the route was raced back in 2017 where Rafal Majka won a brilliant stage finishing in San José, after an attacked ascent of Mt. Hamilton. This year the finish will come later, in Morgan Hill, but the same decisive climbs will be on the menu.
Mt. Hamilton is 7.2Km at 8.4% with some 69Km to the finish, it's definetely hard enough for serious attacks, the combination of steep descents and ascents almost until the finish section will be favourable for offensive racing, it will be up to the riders to see if it will kick off.
No wind for tomorrow, and no heat aswell. A normal weather day so to say, so it will all be in the legs, and their heads.
Van Garderen up there isn't enough, Pogacar is a bigger threat, and with Bennett/Porte and some others up there EF can't leave it for Mt.Baldy so tomorrow is the day they must ignite the race. It may be before, during or after Mt.Hamilton, but their strenght in depth was noticeable. Craddock and Morton look in very good form and are riders for long distance attacks, Uran and Higuita are more explosive and will likely be saved for the climb as van Garderen. From the climb on anything can happen.
Bennett and Porte obviously, constantly the center of attentions today, Trek looked fragile today so Porte's best defence will likely really be attacking, as for the Kiwi there's more room to play, Neilson Powless likely.
Tadej Pogacar is the other main climber in action that looked very good, he should also make a move tomorrow, the Bora riders too with Grossschartner also missing the main move, Schachmann as a joker as he didn't look as fit today as last month, but that was to be expected really.
Cofidis had 5 riders in the main peloton of riders, some lost some time to their rivals but Jesper Hansen finished in the Porte group, he is to look at but in general Cofidis is a strong team for tomorrow. Dennis and Pernsteiner for Bahrain looked solid, Rob Britton and Gavin Mannion of Rally, there's also Simon Spilak of Katusha, David de la Cruz and Gianni Moscon of INEOS and Louis Mentjes of Dimension Data, who seems to be coming back to form.
And obviously, not to ignore the man who won today, Kasper Asgreen who will be a bit in unknown territory, despite not starting with the lead as he lost time on the opening day.
⭐ Morton, Dennis, Spilak, Asgreen, Britton
I do belive EF will keep making moves tomorrow, today will be felt on the legs on many of the riders set to brutal efforts, Uran for one was always on the wheel, mainly of Porte, fresher and with freedom to move I'd say.
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