Trofeo Alfredo Binda 2018 Preview

The women’s World Tour returns this weekend for its third and oldest event on the calendar; the Trofeo Binda. Last year’s edition of the race saw somewhat of a surprise result as a reasonably large group of 25 riders came to the line to contest the sprint finish. No one was able to match American pocket-rocket Coryn Rivera though as she took a dominant victory with a delighted Arlenis Sierra in second and Cecilie Ludwig rounding out the podium.


Will we see something similar this year or will the race revert back to type and be one for the attackers? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders on Sunday.

The Route

Exactly the same as last year!

It is a tough parcours though with the road going either up or down for the majority of the day; there’s no real respite for the riders.


The opening part of the day will act as a leg sapper but the main focus of the afternoon is to do with the circuit around Cittiglio itself.

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You can view the finish circuit profile that I have made here.

As you can see, the circuit is dominated by two main climbs. The first of which is only 1km long but the Sciareda does average 6.4%.


Punchy enough in some sections for a stinging attack, the climb will more likely be used to wear down other riders in the peloton but it is possible for a strong group to form here and not be brought back. Especially if the majority of the big teams are present.

A short descent follows, the riders will then have a couple of kilometres of flat before the main climb on the circuit starts.

On the profile of the circuit above you can see an incredibly steep section before it flattens out. That’s just an issue with Strava and the road there isn’t that steep. It goes uphill, but not at that severity!



You can almost flatten out the sharpness of the gradient and extend the drag into the flatter green section, therefore I’m unsure as to how accurate the gradient at the top right of the image is. However, it is a lot more accurate for the second half of the climb and the double-digit gradients there are real and offer the better climbers a perfect launchpad. Expect to see a thinning out of the bunch on this climb over the laps.

Once over the crest there is still a reasonably long way to the finish but just over 5kms of it is made up of descent. However, the gradients are fairly shallow so the riders will still have to work.

The final 3km roll a little and the run to the finish line is slightly uphill so the timing of any sprint is very important.

Weather Watch

The bad conditions in Italy are set to continue.

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Rain, rain and more rain around Cittiglio this weekend. In an interview on her team’s website Elisa Longo Borghini expects it to be exceptionally tough and conditions similar to her win back in 2013.

The wet roads will make the descents more treacherous and it will make the race even more attritional. Consequently, I definitely don’t think we’ll get a sprint like we had last year. Maybe a small group of 5 or 6 might arrive together but not 25!


Megan Guarnier.

Can the American continue Boels’ unbeaten start to the season? She’s only raced at Strade so far, finishing quite a bit behind the favourites but with it being such a tough race, it is hard to tell where her form is at. Having finished 2nd here before, this is a parcours that should theoretically suit her. 2017 wasn’t a great year compared to her vintage 2016 but given that Deignan will not be racing in 2018, the pressure will be on Guarnier to try to rekindle that form. If not her, then World Champion Chantal Blaak might have a chance. She excelled in the bad weather in Strade finishing a very good 4th place. If the pace isn’t too electric then she might be able to hold onto the better climbers and either wait in for the sprint or launch an attack in the finale.

Katarzyna Niewiadoma.


She only managed second in Strade after having the heavy expectations of this blog on her shoulders. An exceptionally talented rider, it is hard not to imagine her near the front come Sunday. Canyon SRAM arrive with a strong team here to support her that includes Cecchini and Ferrand-Prevot. The former might not be up there with the best climbers in the peloton but she is not too far away in one-day races like this where the longest ascent is under 3kms. PFP is just back after taking a second place in the Mountain Bike World Cup in South Africa; a race she could have won if not for a mechanical. Her form is clearly better than in Strade where after the race she said she felt a bit ill and empty. The question mark with her though is how will the travelling affect the racing? If she’s fit and not jet-lagged then Canyon have a great chance of winning given the number of riders they have who could feasibly contend; even Hannah Barnes might fancy her chances.

Ashleigh Moolman.

Involved in the main chase group in Strade until a crash saw her drop out of contention for a high placing, she’ll be hoping to go better here.  Her early season form is good and on paper she really should be one of the riders going for victory here. One of the big advantages that she has over some of her competitors is that she has a good sprint from a reduced group. Expect to see her and Cecilie Ludwig alternate attacks.

Amanda Spratt.


The Mitchelton Scott rider had a good hit-out in Strade but she was just unable to follow the best. The Aussie team’s European base is nearby so they will know this area well and should be very attentive on what are almost local roads. The length of the climbs are good for Spratt as they aren’t as punchy but they’re more gradual in nature. One thing that I admire about her are her bike handling skills and she won’t be afraid to go on the attack on the descent, I’m just still not 100% confident in her ability to follow the best on the slopes. However, her team-mate Lucy Kennedy might be able to do just that. In Strade she managed to finish in 5th place (ahead of Spratt) after doing the majority of the work in the chasing group. In fact, she could have finished 4th had she read the preview and known to take the inside line around the last corner; although to be fair she looked dead on her cleats as she crossed the line. Longer climbs here should suit and I’m hoping for another surprising result.

Elisa Longo Borghini.

A mechanical at the worst possible moment ruined ELB’s chances of going for back-to-back Strade wins. I think she went into the red trying to desperately chase back van der Breggen which then ultimately cost her a second place on the climb to Siena. A rider that is fairly local to the region, she will arguably know the roads better than most here which will be a big advantage in the testing conditions forecast. One of the best climbers in the women’s peloton, it would be a surprise to see her dropped when the road is going up. The question will be if she arrives alone or in a group with others. Given her sprint, she probably needs to solo home. After a horrid Strade for Audrey Cordon-Ragot which saw a crash derail her chances at a good personal result or to be there to help ELB, she arrives at this race in good shape according to her team mates. A rider that I admire a lot, she has plugged away as a super domestique for a while but she seems to be getting more freedom as a leader this season. She packs a deceptive sprint and could be quite dangerous in a group of 6 or so.

Coryn Rivera.

It would be hard to dismiss the current champion but can she make it two in a row? With no Van Dijk her squad is missing a massive engine so the rest of the team will have to step up to protect her. She’s a good climber who packs a solid sprint but with the more attritional race I’m expecting this season, I just can’t see her managing to repeat the feat.

Others to look out for include; Ensing (Ale), Rowe (Waowdeals), Sierra (Astana), Gillow (FDJ) and González (Movistar).


An attritional race with a much reduced bunch due to the rain. Expect to see team’s use their second options to attack and force other squads to chase; we might even get a move like that stick.

However, I think it will be brought back going into the final lap and Elisa Longo Borghini will ride away from everyone on the climb and solo to victory. She looked good in Strade and will want to make up for the “what if?”.

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The Italian tricolore needs to win an Italian race, right?!


Good news as this year it looks as if we’ll get some coverage of the race live on Eurosport, although it looks as if it will only be the Player. Hopefully the transmission of pictures will be more consistent than last year! I’m not sure if there will be comms for the race though so we might have a similar raw-feed like we did at Strade. Some suggested then that I could Periscope the race and try my hand at commentary which I could do if more people will interested? Although I am visiting old uni pals on Saturday and intend on going out so I might not be back home in time for the racing. If I am, it certainly could make it more interesting!

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win on Sunday? Will we see an attritional race or will it come down to a select bunch sprint? If you would be so kind as to RT this blog then I’ll be forever grateful. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Milano – Sanremo 2018 Preview

Milano – Sanremo 2018 Preview

La Classicissima di Primavera is already upon us and to me certainly, the first few months of the season have flown by. Milano Sanremo marks the start of Spring well almost, as the Spring Equinox is technically on Tuesday, but we’ll just ignore that for now!

The 2017 edition of the race saw an attack on the Poggio actually stick for the first time in a while, when Sagan made his move 500m from the summit. Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe attempted to bridge straight away but it wasn’t easy, with the Frenchman latching on before the Pole made it a trio not long after. As expected, they let Sagan do the majority of the work; taking turns here and there. Despite the chase from behind the trio had enough of a buffer to sprint for the win which resulted in one of the more famous finish line photos in recent years.


Although technically it is from after the line but anyhow…

Kwiatkowski just edged Sagan, with Alaphilippe finishing a wheel length down in third. Will we see the same protagonists this year? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

Same as always, innit.


A route for the purists, MSR is certainly not a race I would show to someone who was new to cycling! The day is really about two climbs and even then, it is more or less about one.

First up though, is the Cipressa.


At 5.6km in length and with an average gradient of 4.1% it is enough to put some of the sprinters into difficulty if they’re on a bad day. For that to happen though, a team needs to come to the front and really drive the pace on. We might even see a few attacks here but it is unlikely they will survive.

Afer a descent, the flat roads continue until the Poggio.


Cresting with just under 6kms to go it is a very tempting launchpad for attacks as we saw last year. Taken in isolation the climb itself isn’t very tough but considering they start it after almost 280km then fatigue does play a part. A power climb, the sprinters will hope to hold onto the back of the bunch as they fly up it.

A dangerous and fast descent follows before the final 2kms flatten out and we get the famous finish along the via Roma.

Weather Watch

It looks set to be a mixed bag on Saturday with showers expected throughout the day and along the route.

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Source: Windfinder

However, the forecast at the moment does appear to be much kinder for Sanremo itself, although that sudden jump in the wind is certainly interesting.

Some showers throughout the day in theory both aid a late attack sticking and don’t at the same time. It could be argued that a lot of the riders will be more tired and maybe won’t have the legs in the closing kilometres to chase and the more traditional classics riders will benefit from this. However, things could stick together more as the sting will be taken out of the attack. Go figure!

Bunch sprint or not?

The perennial question for this race and we’ll only find out at the very end of the day.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 15.13.41
Credit: Inrng

The above graph is from Inrng and highlights how far out any winning move was launched. Some of the editions had smaller bunches sprint it out, including in the torrential edition of 2013 when a group escaped on the descent of the Poggio.

Last year was a bit of an anomaly given the rise of the “classics sprinter” which has meant there are plenty of fast men left to compete in a sprint. The Poggio itself is easy for a lot of the modern sprinters as more of them are able to manage climbs such as it compared to the past. They can cope with a fairly increased pace.

However, as we saw last year the elastic can snap with a stinging attack. It then becomes a question of who wants to chase and how quickly they organise vs the workload up ahead.

Some teams arrive with options for both outcomes while others are solely focussed around their leader.

What will Sagan do?

A lot of what happens in the finale on Saturday will be based around what the current World Champion does; he desperately wants this monument on his palmares. The one who sparked the winning move last year will he attack again this year? In Tirreno he was very strong in the sprints but he was somewhat disappointing on the longer, more traditional classics stages. There is a chance that if he goes on the attack then he will get worked over like he did last year.

Given his form in the sprints and stamina, I actually think he should wait for the gallop to the line.

If he does that, then it throws up yet another conundrum as it both increases any attackers chances but also might hinder them.

In theory any escapees will be more willing to work together as they don’t have Sagan to worry about in a sprint. Yet, if Sagan stays in the peloton then it means his Bora team will be chasing which will be another team chasing them down.

I favour sprint 80% : late attack 20%.


Even though plenty have dropped out due to illness we still have a quality field here as you would expect. I’m not going to bore you by going into great detail about them all though, as I’m sure you’ll read plenty of previews for this weekend and nobody has any time to read the same stuff 10 times!

Arnaud Démare.

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The winner of the 2016 edition has started his season well, with strong showings in Omloop and Kuurne before taking a stage win in Paris Nice. He left that race early to prepare for here which could be a good move given how sick everyone else seemed to get. He should feature in any sprint we get.

Andre Greipel.

It’s great to see the Gorilla back near his best performances this season after 2017 was a struggle due to family issues. He’s back racing with a smile on his face! With two World Tour wins to his name so far this season, he’s also done his fair share of work for his team-mates. Something that he hope will be repaid here and Lotto Soudal bring a squad with them that is geared towards setting up a sprint. Greipel hasn’t been great in the past but that might change this year.

Marcel Kittel.

Can he make it over the Poggio? Hmmm, I don’t think so.

Sonny Colbrelli.

The Italian will want a hard race and he comes here as Bahrain’s sprinter. He pulled out of Tirreno due to illness so it will be interesting to see if he has recovered. Could pull off a shock in the right circumstance.

Alexander Kristoff.


The winner of a wet edition back in 2014, he’s had a solid start to his season. He was ill during Paris Nice and dropped out on the 7th stage but is apparently feeling a bit better now. He has a strong team with him including Swift and Ulissi, but will they stick to team orders and work for him? If it does come down to a sprint, a fully fit Kristoff would be a favourite but the question marks still loom over his health.

Elia Viviani

Flying this year, he will be QuickStep’s sprint option if Alaphilippe’s inevitable attack gets brought back. With a strong team around him, he should get a good lead-out which will help a lot. Can he continue his great season?

Michael Matthews.

Constantly near the front in this race, he’s only managed one race day so far this season, and he didn’t even complete that. Nonetheless, he is a rider that always seems to come out of the blocks firing, just look at his first few race results in the past seasons, so he can’t be discounted completely. He’s probably just not fast enough to win on a flat finish unless he comes in with some attackers. Maybe Sunweb will look to Theuns.

Caleb Ewan.

A commendable 10th place in his first race here last season he’ll hope to go better this time around. He’s another that has pulled out of their recent stage race so who knows how he’ll go here. Mitchelton do have the back up of a very strong Matteo Trentin.

Magnus Cort.


Started this year as a rank outsider for this race but his performances in the early part of the season have brought him much closer to the favourites. I’d argue that he is now one of the best climbing sprinters in the peloton and he’ll be hoping for a fierce pace on the Poggio. If that is the case and things do come back for a gallop, against some tired fast-man he has every chance of taking a good result.

Modolo, Boasson Hagen and Stuyven could all get up to fight for a good result too.

Late Attackers

There is a chance someone or a group of riders escapes in the finale. No doubt you’ll hear a lot about last year’s protagonists but I’ll suggest another two to maybe keep an eye on.

Alexey Lutsenko.

Can you remember back to last year’s preview when I mentioned Lutsenko as a potential outsider? Well, he’s had a pretty phenomenal 12 months since then and it is good to see him take the step up to match his undoubted talent levels. A rather unbelievable GC win in Oman earlier in the year was followed up with a great team role in Omloop, helping Valgren to win the race. He’s been a little bit quiet since then but I expect Astana to be in an attacking mood on Saturday. They’ll save Cort for the sprint with Sanchez and Lutsenko as the likely protagonists. A brute of a rider, he could come over the top of a group of escapees and hold onto the line. He’s not good a bad turn of speed either and he is one to watch!

Matej Mohoric.


Another rider who had a bit of breakout year in 2017, I expect him to step up another level this season. He has bags upon bags of quality; he is a back-to-back Junior and U-23 World Champion after all. It seems as if he has been in the pro peloton for a while (this is his 5th season at the top-level) but he’s remarkably only 23 years old. Having already competed in 4 Grand Tours, it is scary to think what he can do in a few seasons. One-day races are his forte and he recently won the GP Industria after a crazy attack on the descent. Could we something similar on Saturday?


I think it will all come back for a sprint with Andre Greipel victorious.


His performances this year have really impressed me, even in the stages that he hasn’t won. Climbing better than ever, I think he’ll tough it out and stay in contact with the bunch over the top of the Poggio. Lotto Soudal are built with a team focussed around him, suggesting they are equally confident in his abilities to go well. Looking ahead at the weather conditions we might have a headwind sprint along the via Roma; who can remember my “fact that might not be a fact” from earlier in the year?


I have some antepost bets on Viviani at 33/1 and Cort at 100/1 but I don’t think I could advise their prices just now.

1pt EW Greipel at 50/1.

He was that price earlier in the week when I pointed him out on Twitter but it has since shortened. He’s 33/1 in some places but I would take the 20/1 available with most. No lower though.

1pt EW Lutsenko at 100/1.

Again, another that I pointed out on Twitter. He’s now into 66/1 with others that I would take.

0.5pt WIN Mohoric at 100/1 (with Bet365)


Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win? Will we see a sprint or will a late attack prosper? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.




Danilith Nokere Koerse 2018 Preview

Midweek Belgian cobbled racing is back tomorrow with the return of the Nokere Koerse. Last year saw Nacer Bouhanni take the uphill sprint win in dominant fashion, beating Blythe and Stallaert.

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He’s not here to defend his title though so we could well see a new winner but let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

After having reduced bunch sprints in the majority of recent editions, the organisers have decided to change-up the route a little.


We still have the same little kick up the Nokereberg to finish but the circuit that they used to do at the end now makes up the middle part of the race. Instead we have two longer final laps that make the race even more “cobbled” than before; meaning there are a total of 22 cobbled stretches throughout the race!


I’ve made a profile of that circuit that you can view here.

Within the final 10kms of racing the riders will face 2900m of cobbles. The first of those is the cobbled climb of Lange Astrstraat which averages 5.6% for 480m. Possibly a place for those with a bit of a kick to launch an attack.

Only a few kilometres down the line and they’ll face the longest stretch on the course; the 1.8km long Huisepontweg.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 16.04.46

There’s no pavement for riders to hide on here and with the pace being pushed on at the front, I expect gaps to be made. Furthermore, not long after that section another smaller one follows as they once again head off of the main road onto these narrow cobbled farm tracks.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 16.09.09.png

The Kouterstraat is only short at 300m but the cobbles look the gnarliest that the peloton will face all day and with only 4.4km remaining once they have traversed the section it will be a fight for anyone to try to organise a chase.

We then of course finish with the slight rise up the Nokereberg (5.7% for 350m) to finish.

It looks set to be a dry day which will please many and there is only a fairly light wind of 20km/h but we could get some stronger gusts.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 16.31.03

It’s unlikely to cause any echelons but you never know with Belgian racing. Teams certainly like to be aggressive!

How will the race pan out?

Putting this out there now, I don’t think we’ll see a reduced bunch sprint.

The change of route  with the amount of cobbles in the closing kilometres will make it a lot more selective. We might get a very small sprint of 8 or so but I can’t see a group of many more arriving together. There are numerous points to attack in the closing 10km and not a lot of straight wide roads for a chase to get organised. In fact, the chase can really only get organised in the final 4km and it will be a tough ask to bring a motivated attack back by then.

So the following riders will be contenders based on the above assumption!


I’m not going to make this list too exhaustive, plenty of riders could win in the right situation and circumstances so with that said 4 riders to look out for are…

Remi Cavagna.


If a late attack sticks, a Quick Step rider will need to be represented. They don’t have any of their big stars but they still bring a very strong squad for this type of race. Cavagna recently won the Dwars door West-Vlaanderen after he was part of a successful 3-rider breakaway that held off the peloton. He’s clearly in form at the moment and is a rider that should suit these one-day Belgian races. A good time trial rider, he packs the power to get away and hold the gap. Can he go back-to-back?

Loic Vliegen.

BMC bring an attacking squad with them to this race and I expect to see them active at the head of the race throughout the day. Vliegen is another like Cavagna who is a talented youngster and I think he’ll step up another level this season with this now being his third year in the senior peloton. Plus, he completed his first Grand Tour last year which always gives a rider a boost. He has the pedigree in this field to compete on courses like this and I’m sure he’ll stick his nose in the wind at some point.

Mads Wurtz Schmidt.

Possibly not the first rider to spring to mind but the Dane seems well suited to one-day cobbled racing. He’s a strong guy with a fairly solid sprint so he could mix it in a small sprint. 2017 was a bit of a tough introduction to World Tour racing for him but he did manage a few good results in .1 races (Besseges and Kolm). Like BMC, Katusha bring an attacking squad and I don’t think they’ll settle for a sprint.

Alex Kirsch.

The only Pro-Conti rider to make my very, very short-list, he was disappointed to only finish 6th in Le Samyn. Nonetheless, coming 2nd then 6th in the last two editions of that race highlight the quality of rider that he is. I think he is sometimes too eager to go on the attack but if he bides his time tomorrow then he has a chance. That will increase even more if some of the WT riders underestimate him!


We’ll get a fierce pace on the final circuit that will ensure we don’t have the favoured (by the bookmakers anyway) sprinters competing for the win.

Instead, a late attack by Loic Vliegen will see the BMC rider secure a great win. He’s a bit of an all-rounder which perfectly suits the closing 10 kilometres.



We have prices here in the UK with SkyBet but Bingoal also have odds up for the Belgians. I imagine Kirolbet will follow soon. The following prices are for SkyBet though…

Given the fairly open nature of the race, I’m happy to spread quite a few points across my 4 named riders above so 0.5pt EW on them all;

Cavagna @ 28/1

Vliegen @ 75/1

Kirsch @ 75/1

Wurtz Schmidt @ 200/1


Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it end in a sprint or will the attackers get their chance? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.




Tirreno Adriatico 2018 Stage 7 Preview; San Benedetto del Tronto -> San Benedetto del Tronto

Today’s Recap

Despite the best intentions of Astana to try to make the stage more difficult in the early part of the day, the race settled in to the normal routine on a sprint stage with a small breakaway up the road. As expected, things were brought back in the closing 20kms and it looked as if we were heading for a full bunch sprint; that was until Gaviria fell with roughly 8km left, taking out a good percentage of the peloton.

Ahead QuickStep switched to Plan B and looked to set up Richeze for the sprint, leading him out perfectly in the closing kilometre. However, it was glaringly obvious that the Argentinian didn’t have the legs/speed to match the best with Kittel and Sagan both coming over the top of him. The German made it two wins from two sprints at this race, beating Sagan by a wheel. Richeze did well enough to hold on for third at least!


Maybe Kittel was right to come to this race all along then?!

No one at the top of the order lost time on GC today but the crash did see Bardet and Pozzovivo drop down two places. With the TT tomorrow it will be almost impossible for them to regain any of that time. Let’s have a look at what is in store.

The Route

This will be quick…


A pan-flat almost out and back TT that suits the power riders in the peloton. It is the exact same course that we had last year so a lot of the guys here should know it well. I’m sure they’ll be able to take their data and experiences from 2017 and hopefully perform better because of it.

Well, that’s the route covered. I told you it would be quick!


Rohan Dennis.

The obvious favourite; he is incredible at short TT efforts but this type of distance is short enough that he can possibly be beat. Something along the line of 15kms is perfect for him. He’ll probably still win though, but his performances on the road stages so far have been disappointing and they’re a shadow of how well he done here GC wise last season. Is he ill? We’ll find out tomorrow I guess.

Jos Van Emden.


So close to the win last year, he finished only 3 seconds behind Dennis. He’s another who is exceptional over these short distance TTs. No doubt he will have been targeting this stage since the start of the race so will have been saving any energy he could. I would not be surprised if he won but Jumbo’s TTT performance was disappointing and that is putting me off of him.

Geraint Thomas.

Smashed the TT in the Algarve, the shorter distance here shouldn’t be a bad thing for the former track star. He’s had a stinker of a race due to bad luck when he look set to win the thing overall. Sky has a cracking TT bike and set up; they’ve been very strong in the discipline at every race so far this year. I expect that to continue tomorrow, but will it be enough for a stage victory? Castroviejo, Froome, Kwiatkowski, Kiryienka and Moscon could all feasibly post good times too! It’s just picking who will do the best.

Primoz Roglic.

Another who has had a pretty poor luck at this race which derailed his GC ambitions early on but at least he still managed to get a stage win. There is a chance that he could double up tomorrow as his form does seem to be good and the Slovenian is capable of putting out a lot of power for a short period of time. He’s one to watch with interest.

Stefan Küng.

The King has started his season well with strong showings in the Algarve but also a good top 20 in Strade. He’s really developing into a great rider who can TT but manage results on other terrain. I expect 2018 to be another big year in his development and we should see some great results. If Dennis is struggling, then Kung will be more than ready to step up and take the mantle for BMC.

Tony Martin.

DK zeitfahren men elite

I can’t not mention the former World Champion but he’s very hit or miss in TTs these days. He still seems a bit undercooked to me in terms of his form so unfortunately I think it will be a miss again tomorrow.

Daryl Impey.

I’m throwing him in as a wildcard pick for tomorrow. Mitchelton were great in the TTT with Impey, Hepburn and Durbridge all finishing with Yates. While the Brit is not a bad TT rider, the other trio will have been putting out some serious wattage on the course. All of them could go well tomorrow but after his terrific start I think Impey will honour his national champions jersey with a good performance. Like others on this list, he can churn out a lot of power for a short period of time so he has a good chance of causing a shock. Does he still have that Tour Down Under form?


A BMC rider will win the stage but it won’t be Dennis, instead it will be King Küng who is victorious!


I’m a big fan of the young Swiss rider and I think he has the ability to pull off a great result tomorrow; he’s started this season off well and it will only get better.


2pst EW Kung @ 14/1 (Would take 8/1)

0.25pt EW Impey @ 250/1 (Would take 100 lowest)

0.25pt EW Durbridge @ 250/1 (Would take 100)


Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see any big GC shake-ups? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Tirreno Adriatico 2018 Stage 6 Preview; Numana -> Fano

Today’s Recap

The bunch was slowly whittled down over the final circuit due to a solid pace on the climb and a few crashes thrown into the mix. On the last ascent of the Muro itself we saw Lutsenko, Thomas and Yates get a gap but it was the latter who made the most stinging attack on the steepest section; with the other two not able to respond. Bora tried to chase it down but they didn’t manage to and Yates held on for a great win.


Behind Sagan took second place but more importantly Kwiatkowski sprinted to third and picked up some vital bonus seconds in the hunt for GC. It now puts him into the overall lead and considering his TT; he’s in the driving seat for the overall title.

Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow though.

The Route

A stage that starts off with a lot of rolling terrain in the opening two-thirds, the flat section at the end should ensure a bunch sprint.


Compared to the fairly straightforward sprint (that caused chaos due to road furniture) on stage 2, tomorrow’s will be a lot more technical. I’m sure the riders will be very pleased to know that it is a circuit finish so they’ll get a few chances to have a look at the closing kilometres.

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Look at all those corners!

The final 3kms starts off with some sweeping bends on a main road so no doubt we’ll see the lead riders swerving across the road for control of the bunch. Things could unfortunately get messy because of this.

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 17.32.10

At 2kms to go they’ll take a fairly sharp left hand turn through the roundabout above. It’s narrow enough for only a couple of teams to be near the head of the race at this point.

From there, the road continues to sweep before they go straight over a roundabout with roughly 1.5km left. This will again stretch things out.

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 17.36.10

With around 1.2km left, the road narrows into one lane as they enter another roundabout and make a right hand turn. Being near the front here will be important as it will be very difficult to make up positions in what is left of the stage.

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 17.46.16

A long straight does allow one final chance for people to move up but at 400m to go the road narrows again and the riders will take one final right turn before the straight run at the finish.

Weather Watch

There is a potential for a shower or two in the afternoon tomorrow according to some forecasts which will make the finale even more treacherous.

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 18.46.50

Furthermore, it is set to be a windy day out in the saddle for the riders. With strong gusts coming from the West then there is the potential for echelons in the crosswinds as the riders head North for the majority of the stage. Looking on Google Maps, most of the road is protected by foliage or houses etc but there are a few areas without any protection. Will any teams try to split it in an attempt for one last GC shake-up before the time trial?

Sprint Contenders

Marcel Kittel.


The German will hope to double up after taking the win on stage 2 earlier in the week. His train is fairly short but it consists of some strong time trial riders who should be able to hold their own from around 5km out. However, they might lack some top end speed which could see Kittel out of position near the finish. This has happened a lot so far this season and I don’t think he’s fully clicked yet with Zabel. Tomorrow will be a big acid test for their partnership.

Peter Sagan.

Second on stage 2, second today, is this the old Sagan? He’s an excellent bike handler so the technical finish should suit him but will he be given the chance to get as much room as he did on stage 2. He was a bit of a bully then; throwing a few elbows to ward other riders off and it’s maybe something people would have raised more if he was Bouhanni. Without a lead out himself, he will have to go solo but that hasn’t stopped him. If it rains, his chances increase by a good 20%.

Fernando Gaviria.

The young Colombian lost his cool after the first sprint stage; stating how dangerous it was. It’s the first time we’ve really seen him like that and I think it was more out of frustration about being boxed in and not getting to go for it 100% than anything else. He also really missed Richeze who was held up in the crash with 7km to go. Gaviria was sitting on the right wheel (Sagan’s) but he just couldn’t follow through the same gaps as the World Champ. He’ll be fired up to go better tomorrow and I’m almost certain he will.

Those three are a class above compared to this field but considering the technical nature of the finale we might see a shock result.

Danny Van Poppel – An experimental short train that blows hot or cold he could well be the type of rider who profits from the technical finish and a well-timed dash into the final corner.

Luka Mezgec – With Ewan no longer here the Slovenian national champion will get the chance to sprint for Mitchelton. He’s a powerful rider who can handle difficult conditions I just think he lacks the top end speed at the moment.

Jasper Stuyven – The cat among the pigeons for tomorrow. A classics man who is in good form, he’ll get a chance at the bunch kick with Nizzolo out of the race. He won’t be concerned with bad conditions and in fact he’ll probably hope for echelons. He was third on the last road stage last year, can he manage another podium?

Modolo, Boasson Hagen, Mareczko, Colbrelli and Consonni will all be fighting for the top 10.


Sticking to my Stage 2 prediction except QuickStep will get it right tomorrow because Richeze will be at the head of the race which means Gaviria will win.


Watch out for Stuyven though, I definitely think he could surprise.


2pts WIN Gaviria @ 5/2

1pt EW Stuyven @ 50/1

Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it end in a sprint or will we see some teams try to split the race in the wind? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Tirreno Adriatico 2018 Stage 5 Preview; Castelraimondo -> Filottrano

Today’s Recap

It wasn’t as decisive a finale as I thought we might have had but the GC race has been blown open again after Thomas lost some time due to a mechanical in the closing kilometre.

Landa took the stage after attacking out of the GC group and bridging to some earlier attackers that included Majka, Aru and Hermans. The Movistar man then put in another stinging attack in the final few hundred metres as they were joined by Bennett who came out of the group behind. He rounded the final bend in first place and never looked back, taking what was a comfortable win. He is a joy to watch on the climbs!


Majka came home second to somewhat make up for his tumble the other day, with Bennett rounding out the podium.

Thomas’ mechanical means that Caruso retakes the lead, 1 second ahead of Kwiatkowski. With a fairly testing finishing parcours tomorrow, that could all well change come the end of stage 5. Let’s take a look at what is in store for them.

The Route

A stage that is dedicated to Scarponi, let’s just hope we see the action that it deserves.


I’m sure the riders will be thankful that the stage is only 178km after having a few long days in the saddle. We do have some climbs earlier in the day but it should all be about the final circuit.


The opening 8km of the circuit roll, with the road constantly going up and down which will sap the legs before the Wall of Filottrano.


The finish climb can be split into two separate climbs with a small descent in between. First of all is the Muro itself and it is what I would call punchy; averaging 11.8% for 800m. Well, that’s just the first part of it as it then continues to rise for another 700m or so at 7%. A sharp descent follows before the “easier” run up to the line with the final 1.5km averaging 5% but it does get steeper as the hoardings approach.

It is a finish that a lot of riders will fancy but it all depends on how aggressively it is raced earlier in the stage as to who will be in contention come the end of the day.


After being in complete control of the race, Sky will be somewhat disappointed with their new-found position but it is certainly not game over for them. In fact, I’m sure they’ll believe in Kwiatkowski’s chances of winning the race overall thanks to his better time trial compared to Caruso. However, will they want to take that risk? Kwiatkowski himself could attack tomorrow or we could see Thomas go on the move. Having the two high up on GC will be an advantage. Is that Sky’s way of doing things though?

Others will want to go on the attack as well and chase the stage win, especially those who are further down on GC and possess a terrible time trial.

Of course, we could see everyone in a stalemate and we get a control tempo and a fairly benign first two ascents of the finishing climbs which will result in a more traditional puncheur winning the day.


I think we’ll see Sky “ride in anger” tomorrow, setting a brutal tempo over the first few ascents of the climb that will greatly diminish the front group down to around 30 riders or so which means it will mostly be GC guys in contention for the stage.


Tiesj Benoot.

Forza Tiesj Benoot! 🎉 @tiesj #ohn

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It’s the young Belgian’s birthday tomorrow and it is a stage that certainly suits his characteristics very well. He performed exceptionally today, mixing it with much more traditional GC riders and climbers; a hint of what is to come in the future maybe? Explosive in nature and not afraid to attack, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see Benoot try something. Can he pull it off now? He’ll certainly be marked more than normal.

Geraint Thomas.

I don’t think the Welshman will take today very well and he will want to rectify that tomorrow. The finish to the stage is a little bit similar to the day he won in Tirreno last year. On the third day he wasn’t too far behind the winner Roglic and he managed to gap some of the other GC contenders. If he attacks it will be early and he’ll hope that his team will be able to mark everyone else out of it behind.

Adam Yates.

Sprightly on stage 3 I thought we might have seen him give it a go today but instead he was just content with following the wheels, or he was maybe on the limit. Another explosive rider, he has the advantage of being reasonably far down on GC so there is potential he gets some leeway. I’m sure he will want to repeat his brother’s success!

Primoz Roglic.


A lack of concentration on the foot slopes of the climb saw Roglic tangle with the back of another rider which ruined his chances for today. Consequently, he’s now way out of the picture GC wise which means he will be unmarked. Could he repeat his success of stage 3? I wouldn’t put it past him!

Bob Jungels.

Another who lost time today because of Roglic’s mishap, the Luxembourg champion did well to almost get back into contact with the main group but he’d spent his energy reserves by then. For a bigger guy, he did well on stage 3 so this finish shouldn’t be too difficult for him. He’s a strong TT rider and if he gets a bit of a gap then he might be tough to bring back.


Before today’s action I had this down as a stage for the birthday boy but after today’s stage I think we’ll see some “revenge” from Sky.

Geraint Thomas to win and put himself back in with a chance of winning the GC title!



1pt EW Thomas @ 20/1

0.5pt EW Jungels @ 50/1

0.5pt EW Doulbe on Thomas and Fuglsang @ 270/1

2pts EW Fuglsang @ 12/1 (Paris Nice)

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see another GC shake-up or will it be a more mundane day? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Tirreno Adriatico 2018 Stage 4 Preview; Foligno -> Sarnano Sassotetto

Today’s Recap

Primož is a male given name, the South Slavic form of the Latin “Primus”, meaning “first” or “best”.

Taken straight from Wikipedia (I’m sure my old university tutors will be shaking their heads) but after today’s stage the above statement rings true. He didn’t win it in exactly the way I thought he would, but he was the brave one to risk an early attack.


No one was going to catch Roglic with the gap he had in the final 500m and he took a “comfortable” win in the end! Behind, an explosive Yates bolted from the pack but he could only manage second with Benoot continuing his impressive streak of form to take third.

The result moves Thomas into the overall lead with the Queen Stage to come tomorrow. Let’s have a look at what is in store for them the riders!

The Route

Another 200km+ day in the saddle which will not please some after today’s exploits.


This will be a brutal day in the saddle given the incredibly jagged profile we have; the road is either up or down for 100km in the middle of the day with very little respite. It will be a stressful day out! Furthermore, the number of climbing metres total 4704. Ouch!

Given Sky’s dominance at this race, it will be very hard (and unwise) to see anyone try anything from too far out. Unless of course other teams try to join forces. I would love to see that but I just can’t see it happening. Therefore, it will all come down to the final climb.


Using the profile above, the climb is 13.25km long at an average of 6.1% but as you can see, they descend for a little just as they come out of Sarnano. A more accurate representation is 11.75km at 7.14%; long and steep!

The main thing that makes the climb difficult is that it has many long sections above 8% with a few kilometres of “easier” gradients that keep the total percentage down. For example, the middle of the climb (from 5.5 to 9.5km on the profile) averages a leg breaking 8.8%. This is steep enough for big gaps to be made.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 18.39.34
Source: Windfinder

The riders will face a slight headwind on the climb which might deter some of the action but hopefully not as the road does twist and turn which means they aren’t ploughing straight into the wind all the time.

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Interestingly it does ease near the top with the final 1.5km only averaging 4.5%. Will someone have made the race winning move by then or will we see a small group of GC contenders come to the line for a bunch sprint?


There is a small chance, like always, that we might see the break hold on to take the stage win but it is unlikely to happen in my opinion; I think we have “control freak” Sky at this race.

Given the severity and length of the ascent, only the best climbers here will be able to compete for the win. Furthermore, the distance of the stage in general has to be considered as some really struggled today and it will be the same tomorrow.

Geraint Thomas.

The current leader of the race has the luxury of the strongest team and he should have a good number of riders left with him at the foot of the climb. Even if we see some crazy things early on, then Sky should have at least 3, if not 4 riders with Thomas. They’ll be able to set tempo and control affairs on the footslopes of the climb but he might have to do it himself if we get attacks on the steeper sections. Thomas was closest to Quintana on Terminillo last year and an equally good performance here could see him fighting for the win. He packs a good sprint which could be key.

Chris Froome.

Will we see him on the attack? Sitting only 3 seconds down on Thomas, he might be given the license to go on the move on the final climb, forcing others to chase and allowing Thomas to get an “easy” ride behind. He’s had an ok start to his season but he does seem a bit fatigued and laboured – although that is his normal style on the bike anyway! Like anytime he races outside the Tour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win or come 20th.

Mikel Landa.


The Movistar man won’t fear the steep gradients and long climb, in fact he will relish it. He started off his season in surprisingly good form, considering he normally takes a few races to get going. The Sky boys will be scared of Landa, knowing what he can do. Will it be Landani to take the win?

Rigoberto Uran.

A rider who goes well in the classics but as we saw at the Tour last year, can climb with the very best too. He was going well back in his home country of Colombia but I’m intrigued to see if that form has continued back in Europe. A 5th place on today’s stage suggests he’s going fairly well. Uran is a big danger for the stage win compared to some of the other GC guys because he packs arguably the fastest sprint out of the lot.

Adam Yates.

Strong on today’s final climb, he left it just too late to catch Roglic but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. He’s not afraid to attack and we all know he’s very competent on the steeper stuff. Quite far down on GC (almost a minute) will he be able to get a gap and hold it?


None of the above win though as we’ll see Romain Bardet on the top step tomorrow.


I have been very impressed with the Ag2R man’s start to the season; he’s finished in the top 10 of the four one-day races he has completed before Tirreno. That included a gutsy performance in Strade which resulted in a second place but also a strong solo win in the Classic de l’Ardeche. He’s been a frontrunner in Liege before with a 6th place last year and he also won the Peyragudes of the Tour; two examples that he won’t be afraid of the distance. Given his god-awful ability on a time trial bike, he might just be given the leeway to slip away in the closing kilometres.


1pt WIN Bardet @ 14/1

1pt WIN Uran @ 14/1


Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see the expected GC showdown or will the break spring a surprise? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.