So this stage sees the first time GC contenders for the Tour Down Under will show their hands.
Here is your profile:
The forecast is for a dry, hot and sunny day, with temperatures reaching 31 degrees Celsius. Windy enough, too. With winds blowing from the south to south-east at around 20km to 30km/h.
The stage is a rolling stage through the suburbs of south Adelaide. It is not until the last 20km of the stage that things get interesting. There will be a quick sharp ascent of Corkscrew Road, which crests 7km before the finish, followed by a long descent all the way to the chequered flag. The climb is 3.7km long and the gradient hits 10%.
If we can forget the missing 190km, the fact that contenders are not fully cooked, the conditions and the strength of the field, this is not too dissimilar to Milan San Remo. So defending champion Simon Gerrans is an obvious starting point when it comes to finding a winner. With last year’s TDU runner-up Alejandro Valverde sidestepping the race this year, it is left to men who finished ahead of him in last year’s World Championship, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Philippe Gilbert to attempt to unsettle the Orica Greenedge leader. EBH will be hoping to get away in a select group in the final climb, and rely on his sprint at the end. World champion Gilbert will be one of those expected to put in a searing dig on the Corkscrew Road, with a solo to victory more than possible if he can get 5 seconds at the top.
Others who have shown their hand in tough classics are likely to be fancied by many onlookers. Gasporotto, Visconti, Slagter, Rojas, Ponzi and Iglinskiy can all be fancied to go well.
The climb will surely be too much for Gorilla Greipel, and it looks like former MSR winner and Bros frontman is in bad form.
I think Gilbert will win, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Astana have a big say in proceedings.
A race (or at least 20km) to savour.