Like I thought might be the case, I don’t have enough time for a full GC write-up so here are some quick thoughts…
More than likely the GC will come down to the very tough final day. However, there is a small chance tomorrow’s stage will have an effect if it’s anything like stage 1 from the first edition of the race.
Nonetheless, it should be a classics type rider who does well on the final day. With the potentially windy conditions over the moors, it won’t only be the climbs that can cause splits in the bunch, but there is a good chance we’ll see some echelons too.
Having a strong team will be important and Dimension Data look to have arguably the best here. They have several handy climbers who should be there or thereabouts at the end, it just depends on who will be their leader, local rider Scott Thwaites maybe?
Team Sky have strong riders in Rowe and Stannard, but I would imagine that Geoghegan Hart is their best option due to the amount of climbing in the finale. The two aforementioned riders will be there to position him well and it will be over to the young Brit to deliver.
The defending champion and always gurning Voekcler is here again and he is sure to animate the race but I can’t see him winning the overall this time round.
UK Continental riders such as Thomas Stewart and Ian Bibby are two other names to keep an eye on over the coming days with a top 10 a very good possibility for them both.
There are a few other riders I have in mind, but I shall keep my cards close to my chest so to speak and save them for the Stage 3 preview. 😜
As for now, I’ll go with a Geoghegan Hart win, but that is subject to change!
Right, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the opening day of racing.
An interesting day out in the saddle, with the now traditional finish into Scarborough.
I say interesting, because it is similar to the first stage we had in 2015 where the peloton was torn to bits by the climbs. This year’s run in is easier but is still fairly demanding.
Out of intrigue though, I have still made a Strava profile of the last 75km that you can view here.
The peloton has a lot of rolling climbs to contend with such as my new favourite Strava segment, “To the ice cream van!” which is the 12km, 2% average climb out of Pickering.
We then of course get the 1.3km, 9.7% climb of Goathland. Well, it’s actually ever so slightly longer than the official profile suggests and is actually 2.1km long at 6.8%.
Once over the summit, there is a very fast descent into Sleights, before the peloton start climbing again after they are through Whitby.
Another gradual rise for the peloton to get over, 7.1km at 2.3%, which they then quickly descend off before the sharp kick up of Robin Hood’s Bay.
1.5km in length and averaging close to 10.5% (although the Strava segment is closer to 11%), riders certainly can get dropped on the climb and lose a fair bit of time. If the best climbers in the peloton attack it then they should manage the ascent in roughly 5 minutes.
We won’t see any echelon action on the moors on Friday though unfortunately as the wind is mostly a tailwind on the run in to Scarborough.
Will that help those dropped get back in to the bunch, or will it help a stronger peloton stay away over the closing 25kms? It will be frantic either way!
Once into Scarborough, the riders will have to negotiate a fairly technical final 5km, although from 2km to home it is easy.
One thing the riders will have to consider is that the tailwind they had coming into Scarborough will now be a headwind for the final few hundred metres. You won’t want to open up your sprint too early!
How will the stage pan out?
It really depends on who and who doesn’t make it over Robin Hoods Bay in contact with the bunch and how aggressively the peloton attacks the climb itself. Considering the up and down nature of the race before it, the bunch could already be tired if the pace has been on for a while.
We could see some of the GC favourites and strong teams light it up, putting the sprinters in difficulty. Yet, as it has been pointed out to me, it’s the first day of the race and you would expect them to have fresh enough legs to cope with a 5 minute effort.
I think I live in hope more than anything else!
The most likely scenario is that we see a reduced sprint in Scarborough, of maybe 30-40 riders.
Which sprinters make it to the line; that’s the proverbial million dollar question.
Bouhanni was climbing well in Catalunya and has maintained some solid form since then, with a third in Scheldeprijs and a win in Paris-Camembert. He’s not raced for a fortnight though so he’s a bit of an enigma in that sense. If he makes it over, then he’ll be the fastest rider there.
Or is he? I’m sure fans of Ewan and Groenewegen would disagree!
The Aussie pocket rocket was flying at the start of the season but he’s not raced since his 101st in Gent Wevelgem. It’s hard to know where is form is because of that but in theory his diminutive stature should help him get over the climbs. If he’s close to where he was in January then he’ll be a threat. If not, team-mate Magnus Cort will be their sprinter.
Still without a win this season, the Dutchman will be hoping to turn that around here. Very fast on his day, he’ll be able to rely on a strong team to help lead him out. That is if they make it in the peloton together!
Some other riders that could get involved are Van Poppel, Blythe, Lawless and Sanz.
There are two outside sprinters I’d like to mention.
Søren Kragh Andersen
may be second choice on paper out of the Sunweb team, but I would fancy his chances of getting over the final climbs compared to his team-mate Bauhaus. I’d wrote that before the teams were finalised but it seems Bauhaus isn’t riding so it’s just SKA. Packing a solid sprint after a tough day, in this type of field he could surprise.
Lastly, I think Baptiste Planckaert deserves a very worthy mention. The Belgian rider has settled in well at World Tour level, nabbing a few top 10 results for his new team Katusha. Much more than a fast sprinter, this type of stage looks ideal for him and I think he has a very good chance at a podium.
If we do get that attacking day I’m hoping for then look to the likes of Finetto, Bibby, Stewart, Weening and Hivert to animate the race.
I really want to call this as an attacking day, but I’ll be sensible for once and go for a reduced bunch sprint of around 40 riders.
I’ll not be sensible with the following though…
A few of the bigger names will miss out and that will give an opportunity for someone else to step into the limelight. Planckaert to win!
No GC bet so just stage 1 picks;
0.5pt EW Planckaert @ 22/1 with Bet365
0.5pt EW Kragh Andersen @40/1 with Bet365
Oh so tempted with the 66/1 on offer for Finetto if the race does break up, but I think I’ll leave it with the two “sprinters”!
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. How do you think tomorrow’s stage will pan out and who will eventually be the winner? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.