Tour de France – White Jersey preview

Tour de France – White Jersey preview

The competition for the baby-faced riders of the Tour de France, the White Jersey adopts the same approach as the Yellow Jersey but with the only condition being that the riders have to be 25 or under at the start of the calendar year.

It’s a breeding ground for future Grand Tour stars (although some of them are already well established). With the likes of Quintana (2015 and 2013), Pinot (2014), Tejay van Garderen (2011) and Andy Schleck (2010) all having won it recently.

Who qualifies this year?

Warren Barguil.

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National and bookies favourite, Warren Barguil comes into this race after a stellar performance at the Tour de Suisse where he finished 3rd on GC. However, I fear going that deep and performing that well at that race will have a negative effect on his aspirations here. The TDS was a lot more gruelling than the other preparation race (the Dauphiné) which is where all of the main stars went.

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I’m not sure he’ll have enough left over in the final week.

Adam Yates.

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Second favourite for the Jersey, Yates has performed well over week-long stage races recently, finishing 7th at the Dauphiné. However, his forte seems to be the lumpy one day classics. As I said in my KOM preview, Orica come to this race without GC ambitions and will be on the hunt for stages. This will be the same for Yates, therefore, I can’t see him winning this jersey.

Louis Meintjes.

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A Carlton Kirby favourite, the South African has had a pretty poor season so far. However, things seem to be on the upward trajectory after finishing 9th on GC at the Dauphiné. A great climber on his day he finished 10th on GC at the Vuelta last year after having to withdraw from the Tour. He’ll have learnt a lot from those races, both physically and mentally and will benefit from it this year. With normal GC rider Rui Costa going for stage wins, I think Meintjes will be given the all clear to go for the classification. He has a very good chance in my opinion.

Wilco Kelderman.

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Kelderman has for a while been touted as the next big thing in Dutch cycling, being a potential challenger for the Tour in the future. He’ll like the amount of TT-ing in this race and that puts him at a big advantage over his competitors. However, after looking strong at the opening of the TdS he faded quite badly towards the end of the race. Maybe saving something for here? With Gesink out of the squad he should be their main GC hope, but Lotto insist that he will have a Carte Blanche. Too many times in the past I’ve been let down/disappointed by his performance. I can’t see that changing here.

Julian Alaphilippe.

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If Meintjes was a favourite of Kirby’s, I can’t put into words how much he loves Alaphilippe! I might set up a ticker each stage to see how many times he’s mentioned. Anyway, the Frenchman has had a very good middle part of the season after an illness/injury plagued first part. He won the Tour of California convincingly and managed 6th on GC at the Dauphiné. Winning the White Jersey along the way. Like others on the list though. I think he’ll be given more of a free role in the team, hunting stages. I’m not sure if he’ll stay in contention for the White Jersey here.

Best of the Rest

Argentinian Eduardo Sepulveda could give the jersey a tilt, but I don’t think he has enough quality over the three weeks. Lawson Craddock has had a very consistent season so far and could definitely step up here. However, I think he’ll have to do some team-work for Pierre Rolland and will lose time that way. Patrick Konrad, Jan Polanc and Natnael Berhane all qualify and have an outside chance but I can’t see it personally.

One outsider who I would like to highlight is former German champion, Emanuel Buchmann.

Tour de France 2015

The Bora rider has had an underwhelming season so far, plodding along, picking up top 10s and 20s here and there. However, for some strange reason I think he’ll go well here. Like others I’ve mentioned, doing the Tour last year will have taught him a few things. He actually managed to finish third on one of the mountain stages, behind Majka and Dan Martin. He is definitely talented!

Prediction

I don’t think the two main favourites will live up to the expectations and little Louis will win! He might even manage a top 10 on GC along the way.

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Betting

Louis Meintjes – .9pt WIN @ 5/1 at various

Emanuel Buchmann 0.1pt WIN @ 50/1 various

 

Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the white jersey. Apologies if this is shorter than normal! Mainly because there isn’t much to say and I’m away at my graduation so I’m short of time. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de France – KOM Preview

Tour de France – KOM Preview

Much like the sprinters and their Green jersey competition, the King of the Mountains classifications offers the climbers who aren’t going for GC a chance to win a jersey.*

*Although, Chris Froome did win it last year.

How does it work?

Like the stages being classified going on the difficulty of them, climbs are categorised in a similar fashion.

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Table showing the points break-down over each summit

The harder the climb, the more points available. Simple!

It’s also important to note that points on a summit finished are doubled. For example, the winner of stage 12 up Mont Ventoux will score 50 points.

What type of rider will win it?

Like I said above, it is traditionally a climber a who goes in breakaways and is no real threat on GC that wins the jersey. For example, Mikel Nieve started to mount a serious charge for the KOM jersey at the Giro after being in the break of the day on stage 13. This kind of highlights the weird nature of the KOM jersey as any real tilt at the title isn’t made until the second half of the race.

In the table below I’ve highlighted the maximum amount of points available out on the road.

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After Froome winning last year, the organisers seem to have reduced the number of summit finishes. Hoping to favour the non-GC guys.

Stages 8 and 9 offer a lot of points out on the road, but for any half-decent climber to make the break on these stages they’ll have had to lose time in the previous days. How will that happen? Well, there might be splits due to echelons in the first few stages, an unfortunate crash, or they might just lose time deliberately to hunt for stages/the KOM later in the race.

Similarly, some of the stages in the final week offer a lot of points out on the road. These will be crucial in shaping the KOM jersey. You probably need to make the break on stage 15 and 19 to be in with a chance.

One of the major deciding factors for where the jersey will end up are those 76 points that can be won in the final 20km of stages. It really depends on how the GC guys ride these stages. For example, stages 7, 8 and 15 all have a Cat-1 climb before a descent to the finish. Will the GC guys try to put their rivals in trouble here, or be happy to let the break go. The honest answer is I don’t know. It’s too far ahead to predict how the race will be poised at that stage. I would think at least two of those stages will go to the break, the same can be said for stage 20. Therefore, I do think this years KOM jersey will be won by a non-GC rider.

But who you say?

Let me just have a look…

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Firstly, I think we can discount any Team Sky rider. They’ll be all in for Froome.

Secondly, you have to be a good climber to win the jersey, but also be relatively attacking and opportunistic. This gets rid of a large chunk of the peloton.

However, from the outset we’re probably left with around 40 riders who could feasibly win the jersey if circumstances went their way. So like stage picks for breakaway days. I’ll narrow it down to three riders (of varying odds) who could give it a crack.

Ruben Plaza. 

Tour de France - Stage 16

The veteran Spaniard (who now rides for Orica) has become a bit famous for his long-range solo attacks on mountain stages. He won a stage at both the Tour (picture above) and the Vuelta last year. Supporting Chaves at the Giro in May, he rode very strongly when called upon and impressed me. Here at the Tour, Orica don’t really come with any GC aspirations so their climbers will be given free roles. I would not be surprised to see Plaza lose time during the first week to be given freedom later in the race. I’m sure we’ll see him in a few breakaways! If he gets near the lead of the jersey then he’s the type of rider to keep fighting for it.

Arnold Jeannesson.

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He had a very good start to the year with 11th on GC at Paris Nice and 4th on GC at Critérium International, highlighting that he can climb with the best. Since then, he’s been a bit off the boil. Cofidis’ main GC rider will be Navarro so I expect Jeannesson to be given free rein in the mountains to hunt stages or the KOM jersey. It would be great for the Pro Conti team to end up with a jersey at the end of the Tour.

Tanel Kangert.

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A very solid and reliable rider, Kangert seems to have re-found his form this year, finishing 2nd at the Giro del Trentino. He put in a solid bit of team-work for Nibali at the Giro but hasn’t raced since. He’s one of those riders at Astana who could be given a bit of a Carte Blanche in this race. He’ll be tough to beat if he makes the right break.

Prediction

As I’ve said earlier in this preview, this jersey is incredibly tough to make a pre-race prediction for. However, it would be dull if I didn’t stick my neck on the line and make a prediction.

I do lean towards it being a non-GC rider and I’ll go with someone who I guarantee will make the beak on a few occasions this Tour. Ruben Plaza will be the King of the Mountains.

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Betting

One of the more fun markets to have a bet on. I’m going to back the three of my selections here to keep me interested over the three weeks.

Plaza 0.3pt EW @ 50/1 available with various bookmakers, Ladbrokes/PaddyPower etc

Jeannesson 0.1pt EW @ 200/1 with various bookmakers, Paddy Power/Betfair etc.

Kangert 0.1pt EW @ 300/1 with various bookmakers, Bet365/PaddyPower etc.

 

Hope you enjoyed my interpretation of how the KOM jersey will pan out this year. What are your thoughts? I should have a Young Rider (and other) preview out tomorrow. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de France – Green Jersey Preview

Tour de France – Green Jersey Preview

With the GC candidates getting to fight it out for the Maillot Jaune, the sprinters get to challenge for the Maillot Vert. Points are awarded to the winner of the stage, along with the top 15 on that day. The person with the most points at the end of the Tour is the winner. Simple!

How are points awarded?

The stages are classified into the following categories;

  • Class 1 (“No particular difficulty”)
  • Class 2 (“Hilly stage”)
  • Class 3 (“Very hilly stage”)
  • Class 4 (“Mountain stage”)
  • Class 5 (“Toughest mountain stages”)
  • Class 6 (ITT)
  • Class 7 (MTT)
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Stage classifications (Screenshot from the Race Regulations)

As you can see above there are a lot of Class 1 stages, 9 to be exact. These stages garner the most points for the Green jersey, with 50 points available to the winner of the stage.

Class 2&3 give out a mid-range amount of points, with the remaining classes giving out the lowest.

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Table highlighting the amount of points available.

Intermediate sprint points also contribute to the Green jersey competition, using the same points system as the lowest stage classification. Therefore, theoretically the maximum amount of points a rider can get on one stage is 70.

Seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it?

Well, not all of the Class 1 stages are what I’d call proper, flat sprints. That’s either because they have a tough climb close to the end (i.e. stage 2), or there is a drag up to the finish. This will reduce the winner candidates on those stages and in my opinion reduce the chances of one fantastically haired German for the Jersey.

Without giving too much away for my more detailed stage previews that will follow, I only make stages 1/6/11/14/21 traditional flat or flat-ish sprints. The others all have some kind of kink or difficulty. Anyway, enough about the points system and stages, onto the contenders!

Five in a row for the defending champion? 

In short, most likely!

Sagan has been dominant in this competition over the past few years and I expect more of the same this year. Barring any accident or illness he should retain his crown. However, there will be others keen to impress and I think this could be one of the closest green jersey competitions for a while. When I say close, someone might get within 50 points of him!

Let’s start with the two German powerhouses.

Marcel Kittel. 

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Arguably the fastest man in the world right now, he’ll be targeting several stage wins during the Tour. Especially book-ending it with wins on the opening and closing stages. It’s important to note that whatever sprinter wins stage 1 will wear the Maillot Jaune. An extra incentive if it was ever needed! Kittel will hope for a repeat of the Giro where he was unbeatable over the first few sprint stages. I think he’ll come away with 2 or 3 stage wins at most, but that won’t be enough for him to win the jersey. Furthermore, he was dealt a confidence blow at the German National Championships, losing to Greipel in a sprint.

Andre Greipel.

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The Gorilla had an incredible Tour last year, winning 4 stages. He might not be as dominant but he should definitely win at least 2. He’s the only guy who can really challenge Kittel for out and out power, but he can also cope well on drags up to the line. As was proven with his incredible win on Stage 5 at this years Giro. I think he is more likely to challenge for the Green jersey over Kittel and would have him second favourite. His lead-out here looks very solid!

Away from those two, Bouhanni, Cavendish and Kristoff will hope to get involved in the mix. The Frenchman is the most likely out the trio to go well, but he’s flattered to deceive this year, going well at some races but being incredibly inconsistent.

Youngsters Theuns, Bennett and Groenewegen will hope to podium during one of the stages, anything better would be a dream. The young Dutchman looks the most likely.

It would be nice to see John Degenkolb get involved, but unfortunately he still hasn’t recovered fully from the horrible accident earlier in the year.

Aside from “pure” sprinters, there are those who can handle a hilly parcours fairly well.

Michael Matthews is one of those. The Australian has been touted as one of the rider’s of his generation and it’s not hard to see why. He seems to be able to do almost anything. He’ll hope to get a stage win, possibly on stage 2 and take the yellow jersey. However, I don’t really think he’ll be as interested on the flat stages to go for the Green Jersey.

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One rider who I think will get involved on the flat stages and really go for the green jersey is Bryan Coquard. The mercurial Frenchman has had his best season so far, winning 12 races (if you include a GC win)! Admittedly they have been in lower tiered races but as they say, you can only beat who’s in front of you.

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Some will suggest that he doesn’t have the top end speed required to challenge the big boys. If you’re one of those people, I suggest re-watching the final sprint of last years Tour. At this years edition he’ll be accompanied by his trusted lead-out man: Adrien Petit. They’ve made a great pairing this year and Petit seems to know the exact moment when to deliver Coquard to the front. Furthermore, he’ll enjoy some of the aforementioned “sprint” stages where there is a drag up to the line. These efforts really are his forte.

Prediction

It will be incredibly difficult to topple Sagan from his pedestal and he is the most likely winner of the competition.

However, professional cycling can throw up a few surprises and I think his two most likely challengers will be Greipel and Coquard. The German has the best lead-out train at the race and should dominate the flat/power sprints. Coquard on the other hand will hope for top 5s on the really flat stages and pick up points on those Class 1 stages that head upwards in the final Km. For the fun of it, I’ll say the Coq will come first and win the jersey!

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(Although I really think Sagan will retain his crown, I do expect those three riders to make up the podium).

Betting

I think there’s some value in backing my two outsiders EW for the title. You can get;

Greipel @ 9/1 with Betway. 1pt EW. (I’d take the 8/1 available with other bookmakers)

and

Coquard @ 20/1 with William Hill. 0.5pt EW.

 

Hope you enjoyed this Green jersey preview, I will be back tomorrow with a look at the KOM competition! As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated 🙂 Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

Tour de France – GC Preview

Tour de France – GC Preview

I find it quite hard to believe that cycling’s flagship event has snuck up like it has, but here we are at the end of June with the Tour starting this coming weekend. It’s been a fast year!

Like with the Giro, I intend on doing daily previews for each stage along with a Green Jersey preview so I won’t be going into details about the stages here, with this preview focussing solely on the GC candidates.

Who’ll wear the Maillot Jaune on the Champs-Élysses?

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Chris Froome.

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Where best to start than with the reigning champion?  He’s taken a different approach with slightly less race days this year, looking fairly average in the first part of the season. However, he won the Dauphiné and looked back to his strong best only a few weeks ago. The past two times he’s won that race, he’s went on to win the Tour, will history repeat itself? He most definitely has to start as one of the favourites, if not the favourite and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Froome standing on the top step of the podium again. So who’s going to be able to challenge him?

Nairo Quintana.

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Froome’s most likely challenger, the Colombian has impressed me every time he’s raced this season. The reason he came second in the Tour last year to Froome was due to the time he lost in the first week. A couple of the opening stages might be plagued by crosswinds this year, but Quintana was unlucky to lose out in 2015. I don’t expect him to make the same mistake this year. In the final week of the Tour I don’t think Froome will be able to stay with him, it’s just a matter whether he’s chasing time or defending.

⭐️⭐️🌛 (No half star so a moon will do!)

Alberto Contador.

Tirreno Adriatico - Day Four

Years gone by El Pistolero would be up there with Quintana and Froome, but I think they just have a bit more in the bag than him. Saying that, he’s not a rider that they’ll want to give much leeway to. He’s a fighter with a never say die attitude and will keep going until the end. I’m looking forward to one of his trademark long-range attacks on a mountain stage. He’s had a very good season so far but was off the boil a bit at the Dauphiné, but then again, he never goes well there!

⭐️⭐️

Thibaut Pinot.

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The Frenchman has had his best season so far and it really has been a coming of age year. I expect the Tour to be the same for him. On his day he can climb with the best in the world and his TT abilities have progressed greatly this year! He is a definite podium contender if the others slip up.

Fabio Aru.

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Not the best of seasons for the Italian who has failed to impress so far this year, with his best GC result being 6th at Valencia way back in February. However, he should not be discounted and has been gearing up for this race all season, with it being his primary objective. It’s his first Tour appearance and he supposedly comes in as sole-leader of the team (I’m not so sure about that). If he’s back to his best, a top 5 is achievable, possibly a podium. Maybe he’s learnt something from the Nibali school of peaking for the main event? Speaking of which…

Vincenzo Nibali.

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Former winner of this race and reigning Giro champion, the Shark is here to “support” Aru but is more than capable of doing his own GC race if his team-mate falters. He’s not raced since his Giro win, instead he’s been away training and recovering for this race. Meaning he should come into this race fresh. The only concern is his lack of race-legs, but he should find them in the first week! Can he pull off a famous and almost unexpected Giro-Tour double? Probably not, but I’ve been wrong before!

Richie Porte.

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The Aussie pushed Froome all the way at the Dauphiné and really should have finished on the podium there. He looks as skinny as ever and is climbing very impressively. The only concern with him is that he has never managed a Grand Tour without having one bad day or bad luck. I’m not sure if I can see that changing here.

⭐️

Below these guys we have a whole host of riders who could challenge but it would take varying and unlikely circumstances for them to do so.

Romain Bardet – 2nd on GC at the Dauphine but lacks a TT. Not convinced he’ll go without a bad day as well.

Tejay van Garderen – Going to Tour de Suisse highlights that he’s 2nd choice for BMC. Showed some solid form in Switzerland but I can’t see him finishing on the podium.

Any of Sky’s plan B/C/D – In theory, Thomas/Landa/Henao could all deliver a GC result but they’re all in for Froome and will only get to shine if Froome retires. By then 2 out of 3 of them will have lost time/saved energy so won’t be able to contend anyway.

Apart from those guys I can’t really see anyone else get close. No doubt Carlton Kirby will get excited about Alaphilippe and the Irish fans will be talking up Martin’s chances but the Tour really is a two-horse race. With the rest of the guys fighting for 3rd.

Prediction

I think this year Nairo Quintana wins. As I’ve mentioned above, the only reason he lost the Tour in 2015 to Froome was due to his time loss in the first week. He was much better in the second half of the race. I expect the same this year but without the time loss in Week 1. No one can match him on the mountains and he has a very strong support team here with him. Not as strong as Team Sky, but they’ll definitely be able to support him deep into the climbs. Another factor that makes me lean towards Quintana is his TTing ability. This used to be one of his poorest qualities as a rider but he’s really improved over the last year or so. Consequently, this negates one of the advantages Froome had over him and in fact, I think the Colombian is the better against the clock now. It all seems fairly elementary to me and I’ll be shouting “QUINTANA! QUINTANA! QUINTANA!” at my TV screen come mid July.

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For what it’s worth I think it goes;

  1. Quintana
  2. Froome
  3. Pinot

Betting

As I said in my Giro preview, I don’t bet on GC until after the first week. Too many things can go wrong and it’s not worth the risk!

Hope you all enjoyed my take on the GC guys, I should have a preview of the Green jersey competition out soon. Any feedback is greatly appreciated as usual! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

 

Dauphiné stage 5: La Ravoire – Vaujany

Today’s Recap

I only caught the final 5km of today’s stage and I’m glad, seemed like a borefest. It was a nailed on sprint as predicted and it was Edvald Boasson Hagen who came out victorious. A great show of strength from the Norwegian who breaks his World Tour drought. Behind, our man Debuscherre got blocked in on the final corner and from there he was never coming back. Theuns it seems wasn’t the chosen man for Trek, finishing back in 76th. Hopefully get some better luck.

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The Route

A tough test awaits the peloton tomorrow and a harder incline than on Stage 2. This time finishing on a Cat 2 rather than a Cat 3.

Dauphine St 6

It will be a very fast and frenetic start to the stage, with a slight downhill all the way to the first climb of the day. We probably won’t see the break of the day get away until this point. After here it is up and down all day, with a lot of climbing metres.

There is a bit of a lull before we get an uncategorised drag before the summit finish up to Vaujany.

The climb itself is very stop-start.

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The gradient changes constantly so the riders won’t be able to get into a rhythm. This will favour some of the GC favourites, i.e. Contador over Froome.

If there are to be any GC gaps they will more than likely be made on the 4-5km, 12.5% section. Otherwise, we might get a small group sprinting out for victory.

How will the stage pan out?

This is one of those stages that could go to the GC guys or the break.

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If this was a Grand Tour then I’d definitely say break, but because this is only a one week race we might get otherwise. The reason for this is that some of the GC teams might fancy their rider in the sprint/to gap their rivals on the final climb. Bonus seconds could be crucial at the end of the week and there are 10 available on the line.

Team Sky are also notorious for being breakaway killers and Froome has looked fairly strong this week. Do they believe that he can drop Contador and Porte? Hmmm. They might find an ally in the form of Etixx. The finale looks perfect for Dan Martin or even young superstar Alaphilippe. Will they work all day on the front? I think not. They’ve shown a willingness to get in the break the past few days and I expect the same from them tomorrow.

Therefore I lean slightly more towards the break winning it.

Break Candidates

For the break to get away there need to be no serious GC threats in it. Someone like Romain Sicard could potentially get away. He’s only 1’41 down just now, but the rest of the GC teams won’t be concerned about him.

Like other previews, I’m again going to highlight only a couple of riders who could make the split.

First up is the Panzerwagen, a.k.a Tony Martin. The German has looked very strong in the race so far, either pulling on the front or attacking himself. He’s not afraid to go in the break on hilly/mountainous stages. His win on Stage 9 of the 2014 Tour is testament to that. There is a chance he might have to work in the peloton for Martin/Alaphilippe but as we saw on stage 2, Etixx aren’t afraid to send someone up the road on a stage that should suit their riders. If Martin gets away, he’ll be very hard to beat.

The other is Tomasz Marczynski. The Pole who rides for Lotto has made a few breaks earlier this year. He’s a solid climber and is far down on GC not to be a worry. I don’t think Lotto will put all their eggs in Gallopin or De Clerq’s basket, so they’ll likely try to send someone up the road. He’s not got a win yet for Lotto Soudal but has got 6 career wins so far. Can he break the duck here?

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Prediction

A tough stage to call, but I really fancy the Panzerwagen for some reason. I’m 60:40 on if a break makes it or not. It really depends on the composition of teams in it and if anyone is a danger on GC. I think Martin has the qualities to drop his breakaway companions and the brute strength to get up the steep ramps on the final climb. He did attack on the steepest section on stage 3 so has shown that he can go up the tough stuff well.

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If we do get a GC battle then look to his team-mate and fellow Martin, Dan.

Betting

Tomorrow screams in-play to me. Back a couple of possible break candidates and then go GC riders in stage. Their odds won’t change that much so it’s not worth backing them pre-stage in my opinion. I’ll tweet anything that catches my eye.

0.25pt outright on both Martin (Tony) and Marczynski

Martin @ 200/1 with Bet 365

Marczynski @  300/1 with Paddy Power.

Hopefully one of our men gets in the break to give us some excitement in the early parts of the stage. It would be great if one of them held on for the win too! Thanks again for reading, will be back again tomorrow with another stage preview. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Dauphiné Stage 4 preview: Tain-l’Hermitage – Belley

Today’s Recap

The morning break didn’t stay away, but we did get a solo winner like I predicted would happen if the early break was reeled in. Except, I don’t think I would have ever envisioned that it would be Aru who would squirrel off the front!

A group of 8 strong riders got away after the KOM point. Their gap yo-yoed but stayed roughly around 10 seconds. However, they stopped co-operating fully on the plateau and Aru made what seemed a fool-hardy attack off the front. And that was it. A hairy descent allowed the Italian to even increase his gap, with enough left to celebrate as he crossed the line 2 seconds ahead of the pack.

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Let’s look ahead at tomorrow’s stage!

The Route

Dauphine St 5

Another rolling day in the saddle for the riders, but nothing too extreme!

With the sprinters not getting any joy today, then this looks to be a nailed-on sprint tomorrow. The finish itself will be another messy one.

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The organisers seem to enjoy putting a few roundabouts in the final 5kms. After today’s roundabout at 300m to go, we get one tomorrow at around 900m left. Positioning as normal will be key. However, it’s not a flat sprint, the final km is all uphill.

If you want to look at the final km on Google Streetview, click here. Take the left at the roundabout and follow the road round from there.

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The gradient isn’t too severe. Using the above profile, it’s safe to assume a 26m vertical over the final kilometre, which makes it a 2.6% gradient on average. Nothing overly challenging (as you can see on Streetview) but it definitely changes the sprint.

Weather Watch

Similar to the forecast all week really. Warm but with a chance of a thunderstorm and showers. Luckily, it’s not rained so far this week, will it change tomorrow? Who knows?!

Sprint Contenders

The type of sprint tomorrow will mean that a few riders might fancy their chances more than on Monday. This is because the gradient will neutralise the raw speed that some of the riders have.

Bouhanni and Kristoff will still probably start as favourites and rightly so. However, in this type of power sprint you’d probably have to favour the Norwegian. As we saw on Monday, Bouhanni won’t go down without a fight. He just needs to keep his head!

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I’m not going to go through all of the sprinting options again, considering almost every team has some type of sprinter at the Dauphiné. Have a look at my stage 1 preview if you want a list of them all! Like other previews, I’m going to pick a couple of sprinters who could challenge the main guys.

First up is Edward Theuns. The Belgian has really stepped his game up after his move from the Pro-conti talent conveyor belt that is Topsport Vlaanderen, to Trek Segafredo. He’s showed that he can match the best in the world on flat sprints, with a 2nd on stage 4 of Paris-Nice and 4th at Scheldeprijs. This finish would seem to suit him even more than those races. He really can power up an incline. This was shown with his win at the Baloise Belgium Tour just under a fortnight ago. Or his attack that I alluded to in the overall preview. The big question is if it will be him or Bonifazio sprinting. The Italian finished 3rd today whereas Theuns finished in 154th place, over 11 minutes down. It turns out he had a mechanical at the bottom of the climb and rolled home after that, saving energy for tomorrow. I think he’ll be given the nod.

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The second rider is another young Belgian talent, Jens Debuscherre. He finished 2nd on stage 1, but also finished in the same group as Theuns today. Unless he’s caught an overnight cold/illness, then I’m going to assume he was saving energy for this finish tomorrow. A very classy rider that is unfairly under-rated in my opinion, he has the flat-out strength and speed to match the favourites. After crashing out of his classics campaign, his goals for this season will have changed. That 2nd place earlier in the week has highlighted that his form is there. Definitely not one to be underestimated.

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Prediction

I’m not overly convinced by the two favourites on this finish and after picking one of them for the first stage, I’m not going to here. I do love an outsider after all 😉 I think Theuns will follow-up his first victory for Trek with his first WT win and I wouldn’t put it past Debuscherre to podium too!

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Betting

I’m willing to take a bit of a risk on both of the highlighted riders. 1pt EW on both of them.

Theuns @ 50/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair

Debuscherre @ 40/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair

As usual, hunt around later when more bookmakers have prices up, you might get a better price!

Hope you enjoyed today’s frenetic stage and this preview. With a bit of luck we could be celebrating a winner tomorrow evening, I really like the look of these two, slightly left-field picks. Enjoy watching the stage wherever that may be from. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

Dauphiné Stage 3: Böen-sur-Lignon -Tournon

Today’s Recap

Definitely not one for the sprinters and even EBH struggled up the final climb. A break of 3, who got clear at the crest of the cat 2 almost made it to the line. But it was the charging Jesús Herrada who came out the front of the peloton and stole victory. It was a very impressive display of speed and power!

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Our picks didn’t really do anything at all. Coppel made an attack off the front but was brought back by Tinkoff and was our best finisher in 39th. Dennis came home in a respectable 107th. Lets hope for better tomorrow!

The Route

Another lumpy day on the cards for the peloton, with quite a reasonable amount of climbing metres.

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The Cat-2 is weird. The actual KOM comes with 161km to go but as you can see, the road doesn’t stop climbing there.

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The Cat-2 itself

A short and relatively sharp climb, this will put the sprinters in difficulty. If they’re in trouble here then they’ll be dropped once we get past the “summit”. Bouhanni is going to see if he can survive the climb, it will be very close.

The final kilometre is downhill and it isn’t exactly the easiest run in. If we do get a sprint, it will be a messy one!

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The twists and turns really favour a late attacker, with the old cliché; “out of sight, of mind” inevitably being used by the commentary team tomorrow.

How will the stage pan out?

I think a break makes it tomorrow.

As we saw today, Tinkoff are quite happy to relinquish control of the race leadership and it was only because Etixx started chasing that the break was reeled back in.

The sprinters teams will be concerned that their rider can make it over the final climb and I can’t see them chasing. None of the Ardenne-style guys impressed today so they probably won’t chase. The best things for the teams to do is get guy in the morning break and see how it pans out.

If it all comes back together, I think we still see a solo winner with someone putting in a well-timed late attack…

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Breakaway Candidates

Anyone who isn’t a GC threat. Basically.

As I said above, Tinkoff will quite happily lose control of the race. That really broadens the potential winners of the stage so even those close on GC now have a chance.

Like in the Giro I’m going to pick three riders who I think could give it a go, and look at them more in-depth.

First up is Antoine Duchesne. The young Canadian hasn’t featured in the break yet which is surprising. Considering that he never seemed out of them at Paris Nice earlier in the year. I liked what I saw of him in that race and he seems to ride with a lot of heart. He’s definitely a guy who could handle a day like this. Without a pro win yet, could this be it?

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Next up is a more familiar name: Niki Terpstra. A massive engine who isn’t afraid of getting in a break. He could be sent up the road so that his Etixx team don’t have to do any work behind. Alaphilippe has a good chance on this stage if the proper fast-men get dropped, but I don’t think Etixx will put all their eggs in his basket. Terpstra would be one of the strongest in any break, will he be the best climber though?

Finally, Omar Fraile from Dimension Data is another possibility. An attacking rider who also isn’t shy of breakaways. Like Etixx, EBH might fancy tomorrow, but DD won’t want to commit 100%. Fraile has the climbing ability to make it over the final hill, will he be alone?

Prediction

Break makes it and I’ll go for the talented Spaniard. Fraile won’t be so frail!

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Betting

Tomorrow has in-play wrote all over it. Small stakes on the break picks. 0.15pt EW each

Fraile 200/1 @ Bet365

Terpstra 300/1 @ PP

Duchesne 250/1 @ PP.

 

Hope you enjoyed the preview. Sorry for it being shorter than normal, I’ve got a splitting headache! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth