The two final days of this year’s Eneco Tour look set to bring the big GC contenders to the fore. Stage 6, at 197.2km, contains six climbs, starting at Riemst and hugging the Dutch border before ending at Lanaken with an uphill finish.
The organisers have packed the climbs onto the route in quick succession, with three short, sharp ascents fitted into 7km of road. The current GC standings and time gaps should see plenty of attacks, suggesting that Stage 6 could be an exciting day of racing. The Golden Kilometre is once again located on a hilly section, a stroke of genius if exciting racing is what you want. The concept was first trialled at the Tour of Belgium; the idea being that three intermediate sprints are contained within one stretch of road, 1km in length. For each sprint, time bonuses are awarded – 3 seconds for the leader, 2 for second place, and one second for third. For the leader therefore, 9 seconds are up for grabs, making it possible to win or lose a race based on time bonuses earned by racing for Golden Kilometre points.
Freewheeling prediction: Another nice stage for Sagan, but aren’t they all these days?! The current GC placings will certainly make for some exciting tactical racing. Without the Golden Kilometre time bonuses, Rohan Dennis might have been more comfortable about remaining in the leader’s jersey, however if Sagan goes for it, he’ll regain the top spot on GC by the end of the day.
When I first looked at the last two stages, I felt that Geraint Thomas and Greg Van Avermaet might be top three GC riders by the end of this stage. I’m no longer sure about Thomas, who, whilst riding well, looks to be steadying himself for Qatar. Tom Dumoulin appears to be riding into form as Eneco progresses, and I’d expect him to try something on Stage 6. Sagan, Van Avermaet and Dumoulin for me, with Dennis chasing the relevant breaks to protect his lead.