A shorter preview to mimic a shorter opening day!
Last year saw the sprinters take glory with Mark Cavendish getting to wear Yellow after his opening day success. In 2017 though, it will once again be the turn of the TT specialists and powerhouses who will be looking to make their mark in the race of truth.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the opening day.
A pan-flat TT that closely follows the Rhine.
The only elevation we get is when the riders cross the bridge over the river. I wonder if anyone will be chasing that Strava KOM?!
As for the technicality of the route goes, it is fairly simple too.
A lot of the stage will be done at full gas and the riders will barely have to touch the breaks. There are a few 90-degree turns that they might have to slow down for but in some places the road is quite wide so they can take the corners at full pace and “sweeping”.
It is a fast course, similar to the one we saw in Utrecht back in 2015. Will we similarly fast times?
That could possibly depend on the start times of the riders as one of the main talking points throughout this week has been the potential rain we’ll get throughout the day tomorrow.
According to different forecasts it’s meant to rain at various times throughout the day so I’m not sure anyone’s overly confident at how quickly the rain will pass. Some think it will be gone by 4 but others have it raining until the evening.
The general consensus seems to be the following though.
The riders who start early will more than likely get some rain, with the course getting progressively drier later on.
It is a bit of an unkown though and wet/drying/dry roads should add to the drama on the opening day!
You can view all the start times on the Tissot website here.
Given the nature of the route, there are only a handful of riders in with a good chance of winning the stage.
Tony Martin, current German and World TT Champion has to start as favourite for the stage. The route looks custom-built to suit Martin’s characteristics with long straights where he can churn out a load of power in a massive gear. He’s not been great this season though, with his only TT win coming at the recent German Championships. His year is built around this effort though, to take Yellow in his home country so he will (here comes the clichés) want it a bit more than others and that will give him an extra 10%. Will that be enough though?
Primoz Roglic has continued his meteoric rise through the pro peloton this season after a break-out performance at last year’s Giro in the TTs. Losing out to Dumoulin on the opening day of that Giro by less than a second, he’ll be fighting for another jersey this time. He would probably prefer a few more corners out on the course, as he is one of the best bike handlers in the peloton, and that would be where he makes up a lot of time. Nonetheless, he has the power to contend over this distance and his recent win at the Ster ZLM prologue give him plenty of confidence. There were rumours earlier in the week that he was ill but he gets the last spot out for his team which suggest they’re equally confident in his chances and that he may not be ill after all!
Jos van Emden is the second of the Jumbo riders who will be at the pointy end of proceedings come tomorrow evening. Another rider who has really stepped up over the past couple of seasons in the TT, this distance is his bread and butter. It will be interesting to see how he goes with the Giro already in his legs, as he seemed a bit cooked at the Dutch National championships. Although he did have one of the fastest early splits, maybe just preparing for this distance?
Stefan Küng arrives as BMC’s challenge to take Yellow on the opening day and has been given the honour of last man out for them. He won his first TT recently (the Swiss Championships), not long after a very impressive display on the last day of racing at the Tour de Suisse where he finished second in a TT that didn’t really suit him to his team-mate Dennis. He’ll go well and is almost a shoe-in for a top 10 at least, but he is very hit and miss at times with his efforts against the clock so I’m a bit wary if he’ll go well here. He’s a type of rider that whatever time he records, the result won’t surprise me!
Those 4 are the top contenders but there are certainly others who could get be in the mix.
Steve Cummings is clearly flying at the moment and will be a danger man for the podium. The British Champion could even make it back to back opening day yellow jerseys for Dimension Data.
Jonathan Castroviejo would have preferred a rolling course. Nonetheless, at the World’s last year he proved he can mix it on the pure flat terrain against some of the bigger guys. He won a flat TT against Martin and Roglic in Algarve earlier in the year, can he repeat that tomorrow?
He’s not the only Movistar rider in with a chance as they have young German Jasha Sütterlin. He delivered a promising result in the Dauphiné and only finished 15 seconds behind Martin at Nationals. One to keep an eye on!
I nailed my colours to the mast earlier this week and I’ll stick to my guns. Roglic to win!
It should be a close battle though between him and Martin and I expect very little between them. I also fancy Cummings to round out the podium given his current form.
I took Roglic at 2/1 mid-week but he’s now drifted out to 3/1 so…
3pts WIN Roglic @ 3/1 with Betfred/SkyBet/Betway/BF Exchange
I’m also wary of Cummings so I’ll be backing him EW as well.
1pt EW Cummings @ 28/1 with Betway (would take the 25s widely available elsewhere).
Going in a little bit heavier than I would normally but Stage 2 is more than likely going to be a no bet (unless the wind starts to play up) so I’m just doubling up the stakes here.
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win? Will it be a German win or will someone upset the narrative? I’ll be back again tomorrow with my Stage 2 preview. Until then,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.