• Rúben Silva

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 7 Preview

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Michael Matthews took his second name of the week in the second bunch sprint of the race. The Australian took advantage of an early sprint by Pattrick Bevin and launched his sprint in the finale, being closely matched by Phil Bauhaus, Daryl Impey closed the podium in a day where the last kilometers were extremely fast and had some important attacks.

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The day started out and unlike expected there wasn't much of a fight to get in the breakaway, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R), Josef Černy (CCC), Mikel Iturria (Euskadi), Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot) and Floris De Tier (Jumbo-Visma) broke clear from the peloton but they were never given much of a gap as there was the information of a tailwind for the final part of the stage. That meant the pace was constantly high, the last riders of it were caught with 12 kilometers remaining.

Shortly after there were some crashes, Simon Yates and Oscar Rodriguez involved, but the race really changed with some 6km to go.

Movistar had been lurking, and when the race came to the seafront they pressed the pace hard, creating splits in the peloton and putting everyone on the limit. The accelaration was short-lived, but it created splits, put lots of riders out of contention and out of place to chase, and that would influenciate what came next.

Davide Formolo surprisingly jumped from the peloton, and shortly after there was another rider coming through and that was the leader himself Miguel Angel Lopez, two lightweight climbers trying to make a difference in the flat. For a moment it actually looked like a genuine threat for the stage, but they were caught before the 1km to go sign.

Formolo kept driving the pace upfront as the sprinters were lined behind Lopez, Bevin launched his sprint way too soon and acted as a leadout from where Matthews came from and took a hard win in front of Bauhaus.

And the final stage is an already familiar one to all regular cycling fans. The circuit on the Montjuic climb is already one of the most iconic of the season. A short stage, Barcelona will host both the start and finish, after the start the route will tilt upwards where the Coll de la Creu d'Ordal will open things up for those looking for a stage win.

After the descent back to Barcelona the route will then roll around, climbing the Alt de Montjuic 8 times. With 2.1Km at 5.3% it isn't an easy climb to see gaps appear, but the fast descent and the small peak next to the Olympic stadium won't give anyone rest until the line, which will create for a hard day's racing.

There's gonna be rain tomorrow, it surely is gonna get some riders nervous and afraid of taking risks, but also it may also encourage some attacks, either way it's sure that there will be risks taken by lots of riders, especially with so much to play with.

There will be a somewhat strong northeast wind, which will mean a tailwind for the opening 30Km, and a headwind all the way back to Barcelona. The Montjuic isn't a very exposed climb so it shouldn't be affected in it's bulk, but it gets very open in the top and there will be a tailwind for that section, which may encourage the offensive riders.

Who can we expect to see?

An agressive race for sure. Last year there was a long and hard stage, lots of fighting to be in the breakaway which should happen again, with several good climbers far from the overall fight.

Adam Yates and Egan Bernal should try to go on the attack tomorrow, with such a small gap back to Lopez it is certain they will at least try, and will put pressure on the Colombian on the wet technical roads of Barcelona.

Dan Martin, Michael Woods and Romain Bardet are all punchy climbers who should really fancy their chances tomorrow, the latter especially as he loves riding in the wet and isn't afraid to take risks.

Tomorrow's Movistar enigma is knowing how they'll race. Soler and Valverde will surely be in the offensive tomorrow, Soler more maybe as Valverde has a good chance of attacking on the final lap and being able to outsprint whoever is with him. Quintana, he should stay on the wheel of his rivals surely, as it isn't even a type of riding that suits him at all.

But the breakaway consitution is another essential thing, as like almost everyday it's a stage suited for escapees, and there are lots of riders who may fancy their chances. Bora's trio, Schachmann not so much as he already got his stage win, but he is a very good rider for tomorrow that even from the peloton has a solid chance of winning, Davide Formolo and Gregor Muhlberger have been very agressive and if they manage to get in it they'll be very dangerous.

As I mentioned yesterday, Thomas de Gendt and Bjorg Lambrecht should be a threat, Tony Gallopin another one, British James Knox also should like such a profile, and doesn't have the pressure of being chased from behind.

Then between Michael Matthews, Daryl Impey and Pattrick Bevin there are some riders that can win from the break or from the pack. It's always a very open race on this circuit so there's no way of knowing who will be able to take home the win.

Prediction Time

Valverde, Matthews, Bardet

Formolo, Bevin, A.Yates, Bernal

MA.Lopez, Woods, D.Martin, Impey, de Gendt, Muhlberger, Gallopin, Schachmann

It's really hard to predict what will happen tomorrow. My call is for a breakaway success, I just can't see how it wouldn't happen with such a stage. Davide Formolo was very explicit in showing he wants a stage, with Majka the only rider in the overall fight Bora have lots of riders who can get in the break or attack from far who can be a serious threat. Formolo is one of them, my concern is that he wouldn't have the power to get in it in case the break went too early but he showed he can power in the flat aswell, so I predict he'll get in it and with some luck maybe win in Barcelona.

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