In what seems like an eternity, I’m back from my preview writing hiatus. Refreshed and ready for the Tour and Giro Rosa!
Before that though, it is National Championship week for a lot of the peloton and to fill the void before Tour build-up gets into full gear I thought I’d fill the void with a couple of previews. First up is the effort against the clock, the race of truth; or the individual time trial as most people like to call it.
Last year saw Alex Dowsett take the win in the men’s event, with Hayley Simmonds winning the women’s race at the UK Championships.
Both of those riders defended their crowns that they had won the previous year, can they make it three in a row this time round?
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders as they travel to the Isle of Man for this years edition.
A 22.2km trip around the West coast of the island, taking in a lot of its most recognisable landmarks and some of the famous Isle of Man TT Course. Apt, isn’t it?
The men will do two laps of the circuit, whereas the women will just do one. As the organisers don’t have a profile for the route as such, I’ve made one using Cronoescalada (shocking change from Strava, I know!).
You can view an interactive version here.
As you can see, it’s quite a rolling course with several long drags for the riders to contend with. The gradients aren’t too severe, but in both climbs there are percentages of around 7% in some sections which could certainly disrupt the riders. Especially if they’re on the limit and have mis-timed their effort.
With very few turns out on the route, the day will be about pure power and we’ll see only the strongest riders crowned winners at the end of the day.
An alternate profile of the course from @VeloViewer.
As you are probably well aware, the UK isn’t known for its consistent weather. However, it actually looks as if the riders will have similar conditions throughout the day tomorrow.
Although this is likely to change within a few hours of me writing this…
At the moment with their early start (11 am), it looks as if the women will have a headwind in the first half of the course before a tailwind in the second.
Whereas the wind appears to switch direction who will face the headwind on their run home/attempt to beat the sunset with their competition starting at 6pm.
The less exciting of the two races, this is Dowsett‘s to lose.
He’s a class above everyone in this field but he has been off the pace recently so there is certainly a chance others could benefit. Furthermore, the rises on the course won’t be to his liking too much although he has gone well on grippy courses in the past.
Can anyone beat him?
If Cummings was 100% then he possibly could on a course like this, but since this is the Dimension Data riders first race back after injury then I think that’s unlikely.
Dibben won the recent pan-flat TT around Big Bear Lake at the Tour of California and he will certainly be in with a chance tomorrow but I think he might struggle on this longer course.
Doull, Harrison and Handley will feature on or around the podium positions.
There is one rider who I think could get close to Dowsett though and that is JLT’s James Gullen.
He’s really taken a step up this year after his move to JLT Condor from Pedal Heaven, winning the An Post Rás overall towards the end of May. He was very active at the recent Beaumont Trophy, taking second place after doing a lot of work throughout the day. He seems to be on good form and is clearly a tough rider. Can he sneak the win?
Probably not, but he’s one to keep an eye out for!
On paper, this one should be a lot closer.
We have back-to-back champion Simmonds here to defend her title. Not a known climber, the more rolling route might see her struggle. However, she has taken a step forward in that department this season, with notable results at tough races such as Emakumeen Bira and Durango. I’m certainly not ruling her out!
Team-mate Katie Archibald could be her biggest rival. The track-star really impresses me at the Women’s Tour and she seems to be transforming into a very strong road rider. She’s not competed in a open-road TT this year but will the Olympic Team Pursuit Champions ability transfer over? I think it can.
Another “trackie” Elinor Barker beat Simmonds in the recent Ljubljana TT by one second which is of a similar distance to this race. That was also her only road race-day of the year so far. Can she equal that result again? I don’t know, and I don’t really think anyone does!
Who else can challenge?
I’m keen to see how Hannah Barnes goes. The British road champion was very strong at the recent Women’s Tour and she has really taken a step up again this year. Not the strongest time trial on paper, she is however arguably the strongest rider here. Will she be able to measure her effort throughout the course? My dark horse for the title.
Claire Rose will also be on or around the podium again this year.
I’ll be boring for the men’s race and say Dowsett wins. Although I do think Gullen can get closer than he did last year and if the Movistar man isn’t on top form, then the JLT rider could pull off a shock result!
As for the women, I’ll go for fellow Scot Archibald to take the crown, continuing her great first full road season. Barnes to sneak onto the podium.
Tempted to put 0.5pt on Gullen but I think I’ll give it a miss so no bet!*
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? I’ll be back again on Saturday with another joint preview of the road race. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.