Baddabing! Vos bosses stage 5, Van Vleuten stays in charge, Niewiadoma lurks, Uttrup Ludwig is utterly Cecilie. Stage 6 predictions...
Words: Ian Cleverly
Photos: Sean Hardy/Ceratizit-WNT
Vos the Boss certainly bossed it on stage 5 to Terracina, the longest women's stage in recent history, smashing it in the bunch sprint. Same as it ever was...
Now then. Eyes down for the next instalment, a relatively brief 97km with a possibly race-defining lump to split up the contenders. Vai, vai!
Stage 6: Torre del Greco - Nola (97.5km)
Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) So far trying to pick the winners of the stages has been a bit like bobbing for apples: the same few apples keep floating to the top and it’s just a question of getting our teeth into the right one on the right day. Stage 6 into Nola looks like a perfect opportunity for a strong breakaway. The steady but challenging climb before the downhill to the finish can act as a launchpad for someone who also descends well. I was impressed with Lizzy Deignan’s descending at La Course, and since she has lost a pretty good chunk of time by now, she could be allowed to get a gap, if she has the legs for it.
Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) If in doubt, go Vos. She can hang with a select few over the lumps and bumps then win a group sprint.
Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) Tomorrow a short, sharp stage of 97km awaits, heading through Pompei and will be overlooked by Mount Vesuvius. With one 3rd category climb to tackle and a lot of rolling roads throughout the stage, I think Amanda could try for a breakaway. She’s over 6 minutes down on the general classification and if teams think she’s a danger to their standings on GC, it leaves Spratt’s team-mate Annemiek van Vleuten to sit in, letting other teams do the work to chase her back.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) Although a break is possible, I think the podium places are all a bit too tight for a strong one to get away. So I'm going to pick Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig for this, the Dane is obviously in good form after coming close to Vos on Stage 3.
Meanwhile, here is WNT-Ceratizit's behind-the-scenes video missive from stage 5. They're getting closer and closer to that elusive stage win.