Tour of California Stage 7 Preview
Updated: May 18, 2019
Tadej Pogacar took the queen stage and took over the lead in Mt.Baldy. The stage wasn't as attacked as expected, the pace throughout the whole final section was high despite it, an early attack by Max Schachmman before the final climb saw the pace rise up, on the climb it was EF who set the pace until van Garderen completely cracked on the climb. George Bennett moved from there on, Higuita made the significant move and was caught by Pogacar inside the final kilometer, the duo rode together until the final sprint, where Higuita went too wide in the turn and allowed Pogacar to take a double win.
Positive: Pogacar rode superbly, as a 20-year old he is showing enormous potential and maturity already. Rarely do we see a pro of this age win, and in a WorldTour race it's almost unheard of in modern times. Higuita in his first WorldTour race, also a massive surprise (well relative) with such result. The big surprise of the day was Kasper Asgreen, he's been having a revelation week, after having an amazing revelation in the Ronde, he's having a stage-race reveiling in here. Ricardo Zoidl in 5th, Magnus Cort Nielsen in 13th, very good surprises on the top level.
Negative: EF's strategy was very questionable. Uran had said he was here to work for van Garderen, in the stage where he fell that could be used as a justification but today it was a waste of Uran's abilities. What he could've done we'll never know, but he was looking good, and in such a climb it made very little difference, he would have been much better fighting for the overall, he could've even helped Higuita for the win. Grossschartner also looked to struggle more than expected.
And the final stage as it's costum fits the breakaway down very well, rare to see such well suited stage for it. There's only 141 kilometers on the road, the first half is almost all in a slight uphill with two real ascents there in the middle, and from 48Km to around 20Km the riders loose 1200 meters in altitude, lots of descending and very technical roads will make it almost impossible to claw back time and will allow the escapees to also get a good recovery before the final 20Km on the finishing circuit in Pasadena.
That circuit is rectangular, criterium-shaped, and is only 5km long, so even if the peloton manages to bring back the escapees there will be a very messy aproach to the closing kilometers.
Weak wind in the mountains, sunny but mild temperatures so that's pretty much it, all in the legs, not on the weather.
This is a stage perfectly suited for a breakaway. But as in previous days, it's really hard to predict who will be in it, also who can really win out of it, just too many riders with that capability.
The race dynamics will certainly change throughout the stage, I believe it will be a very fast start and some sprinter teams won't commit to working with the climbs to come. But with Bora, Jumbo-Visma (and possibly Bahrain) there's a little possibility of it being controled. Climbs passed, Deceuninck and Sunweb are two teams we can see helping in the chase. But the stage does still favour a breakaway, don't ignore that.
Jasper Phillipsen is a big gun for tomorrow, UAE Emirates is on a roll this week, the team is looking very motivated and Phillipsen looked very sharp in Morro Bay. Peter Sagan not so much, but he did win stage 1 so he is to consider, sprint is still very strong and he can climb better than the other sprinters. These are those who should like the climbing.
Deceuninck and it's mega leadout is the ideal team to chase, if Jakobsen goes over the climbs confortably Deceuninck have plenty of firepower to chase, and with Richeze in the form he's at I wouldn't be surprised to see them attacking in the finale, the team is showing brute strenght with several riders. To be honest, literally every rider of Deceuninck has impressed me this week. Asgreen, Cavagna and Declercq are absolute powerhouse riders, Stybar looked very explosive yesterday and in the leadout in Morro Bay, Morkov and Richeze are bost powerhouse sprinters with a track skillset (can go long, ideal for late attacks). They can easily take the win tomorrow I'll say.
Ivan Garcia Cortina and Phil Bauhaus are a good duo to take into account, John Degenkolb has been very consistent. There's also Nacer Bouhanni who seemed to have came back to good form here, had a good finish in Morro Bay. INEOS' leadout is strong enough to have Halvorsen in the top placings, Max Walscheid is another big (literally) name to consider.
Finally we have too Travis McCabe who's had an impressive week, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg also a good name to consider (maybe even Cavendish, but not to be expected).
⭐ Degenkolb, van Poppel, van Rensburg, Bouhanni, Richeze
Can you blame me? Yes I think Jakobsen is going to take another one. The team is in brutal form, he is matching, same as I said some days ago, all he has to do is follow his teammates, he won't have a better team to lead him out all year long. Other than that, he's strong enough to beat the others.
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