Recliners -The King of L'Avenir - Mortgage Bonds
We were treated to a showdown last night on the slopes of Tarentaise, with a select group containing Hindley, Storer and Hamilton motoring up the final ascent. Hindley and Storer showed their cards early with well-timed attacks, throwing the race into the hands of Bernal. Bernal hit the bottom of the last climb in complete control - well, that's what it looked like submerged into the Stanley Street Social's recliners. A fluid pedalling style, calm posture, and racing intelligence, Bernal is an archetype of his Colombian predecessors - Quintana Chaves and Lopez. Bernal gradually ate into Hindley's gap before riding the majority of the climb at a damaging tempo, more than happy to drag his rivals into deep water. The Columbian was measured and powerful, gradually drawing back any move, dieseling his way up the final climb. He reduced the group to a manageable five riders before following his competitors' wheels into the final kilometre. It was here Bernal took the inside line to outsprint the only remaining rider, Lambrecht. Hamilton produced a gutsy effort to finish in 5th, 19 seconds behind - unfortunately, he crashed earlier in the day overshooting a hairpin but recovered to deliver a commendable performance.
Three key points I noted from last night's stage: One, Bernal is really strong, really really strong. Two, the Australians have the best overall team, with three riders in the final select group. Three, Bernal's biggest weakness is his lack of support, with no Colombian company heading into last night's finish.
Tonight's stage has the only HC climb of the race followed by a Cat 1 to finish off the tour.
There is a small valley section before the ascent to the finish. In my opinion, for Bernal, that's like a 2008 American mortgage bond. And from an Australian perspective, sniff sniff sniff, can you smell that? Opportunity, no money! There is the opportunity for the Australians to remove Bernal's teammates on the first climb of the day, isolating him in the valley. Providing the perfect platform for an Australian move - making Bernal defend and more importantly expend energy. For mine, unless he has a shocker, this could be the only way that Bernal could be unhitched from his reigns as "the king" if this year's Tour de L'Avenir. Someone has to do something otherwise Bernal will do what he does best and storm the last climb for victory.
The stage is televised from 8:30 pm on Eurosport tonight and should a ripper.
See you back at the social club,