We didn’t see as an attacking race as I thought and had hoped for, with things being relatively controlled throughout the day. Scenario 2 was the one that prevailed from yesterdays preview, with a group of 20 guys coming to the bottom of the final climb.
Taking things “slowly” to start off with, Conti decided to launch an attack off the front. His gap seemed to be growing quite large but Yates and Teuns made their move with roughly 350m to go. The former faltered, but the recent winner of the Tour de Wallonie pushed on, managing to hold on for the stage win.
Arguably a more impressive rider though was Sagan who managed to power his way up the climb and take second place. Maybe he does stand a chance at the GC title after all? I still think stages 6 and 7 will be too tough, and if he picks up more bonus seconds tomorrow, they’ll be raced too aggressively for him. I think…But the way he’s riding I’m not going to write him off completely. Swallowing my already minimal amount of pride here.
Bora are in a great position though with Majka third on the day and up to the same position on GC.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
A needlessly long sprint stage!
My profile is missing some of the neutral kilometres that are included in the official one, and I think I may have skipped out a little bit of the route too. But considering the resources I had to work with, it will have to do!
Not much at all of interest during the stage really so let’s get straight to the finish.
A simple 6.2km circuit, the riders will have an 800m straight run to the finish. Plenty of time for lead-outs to get organised and more than likely hit the front too early and burn out!
How will the stage pan out?
A long day like this could see a surprise breakaway stay away, but more than likely we’ll see another sprint in Zabrze.
If the peloton catches the break early then there is a chance for a late attack but it will hard to make it stick given the nature of the terrain. So once again, a bunch sprint is likely.
Given the strength he showed today and the speed on stage 1, he still has to start as stage favourite. He went missing on stage 2 but that’s because he was a bit boxed in and the Bora lead-out was disorganised. Saying that, I think Sagan will surf wheels tomorrow as most of his team will be working all day to bring the break back. If he kick like he did on Stage 1, can anyone beat him?
Danny Van Poppel.
Based off of the previous two sprints he seems like the most consistent challenge. He finished fast on Stage 1, he finished fast on stage 2. Both times he was out of position terribly! Maybe if he gets placed near the front he has a chance of winning the stage. Puccio will need to step up in that regards.
Jumped too late on stage 1, disappointing and blocked in on stage 2. The Aussie is fast, and he will be bitterly disappointed after that second day of racing. If this was mid-season last year I would have a concern about his ability to last the distance, but his win at Cyclassics Hamburg in August of 2016 shows he still has a good turn of speed after 200km*. Furthermore, he did finish 10th at Milan San Remo this season, not bad for a first effort. With Mezgec, he has the fastest lead-out rider here but they will need to hit the front later than they have been. On stage 2 they seemed to get really giddy and Ewan was third wheel with 4km still to go. If they bide their time and come up in the last 1km then he has a great chance.
*Although that was after a Bouhanni DQ. Classic.
Won stage 2 so there is obviously some form there and the confidence boost will do him a world of good. He’ll need to be lucky and hope the others are caught napping, but he certainly has the ability to be close again.
Like a few others he was caught out on stage 2 by being swamped in the closing kilometre. Astana seemed very pro-active at the front of the race, bringing him in to a good position, but like Orica, they did it too early. The Italian had an impressive turn of speed to finish in the top 10 and I still think he can finish on the podium at some point this week but he’s running out of chances.
Walscheid, Bonifazio and VanPoppel will all be up there fighting for the top 5 again.
Long stage (I’d watch Burgos instead if you can) that will end in a sprint, unsurprisingly.
Sagan will surf wheels but Orica will finally bide their time and get the lead-out right, with Mezgec delivering the Aussie Pocket rocket into a perfect position, seeing Ewan winning the day.
VanPoppel will come flying but from too far back, again, and we’ll see Minali edge his way onto the podium.
2pts WIN Ewan 11/4
0.5pt EW Minali @ 22/1
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
Another day that ended up in a bunch sprint but it was the odd one that was expected. Again, for some weird reason the peloton caught the break very early, creating an opportunity for some attacks.
Oss, Haas, Jungels all tried their hand but were reeled back in. Then as I thought might happen, Vakoc launched an attack at roughly 2kms to go. He quickly had a bit of a gap which seemed to grow as the sprint trains behind stalled. However, Paterski came to the front and sprinted all the way up the drag, catching Vakoc just as they completed the turn at the roundabout.
It was a frenetic run to the line with the riders amassed all over the road. In the end, Modolo just had enough left in the tank to hold on for the win.
A fast finishing (again) VanPoppel charged at the line but it was only enough for second, with Walscheid taking third. His second place was enough to se Van Poppel move into the GC lead ahead of Sagan, based on their stage placings so far.
Will he be able to hold onto that lead tomorrow?
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
A stage that actually resembles its official profile!
Nonetheless, I’ll still be using my own one as the go to.
You can view the profile itself on VeloViewer here.
It’s taken me a few days but I’ve finally figured out how to rotate the profiles so that we get them at a side on angle…anyway…
The stage starts off fairly innocuous with a lot of flat roads in the opening 60km or so. However, once through the second intermediate sprint of the day the road rises all the way until the summit of the first climb; some 28km at 2.2% on average.
If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure where the climb officially starts (I can’t be bothered to look it up again in the road book), but to me it seems to be 5km from the summit.
As you can see, the closing 5km averages 6% with a max gradient of 13.2%. Not too difficult but not easy either, it depends on the pace of the peloton whether we’ll see any riders dropped here.
Once over the top the riders descend all the way to the foot of the following climb; Zameczek.
Split into two parts, the climb as a whole averages 5.2% for 5.3km. Once again, not too difficult but it can be made hard. The second half of the climb is a lot more challenging than the first, averaging 8.1% for the final 2.2km.
On the first passage of the climb I can’t see there being much action here but the riders will summit for a second time with 33km left, so we might see a few probing attacks launched on the steeper slopes.
The riders will then face the penultimate climb; which is the descent off the first categorised climb they tackled. Like that first climb, I could dispute how long it actually is. You could argue the road rises from the 135km gone mark, which would make the climb 12km long at 4%. However, the opening sections most likely won’t be raced too aggressively. The same can’t be said for the latter parts though.
This is a proper climb and with the closing 4km averaging 7%, we could see some of the early GC players come to the fore.
With 9km of descent to follow, will we see any rider(s) who has escaped on the climb stay away before the rise to the finish? Well, the start of the descent is steep and technical but that only lasts for a couple of kilometres before it then runs along the side of the valley on a much straighter road.
They will descend all the way until 1.5km to go where they will make the following left hand turn and start the climb for home.
The climb itself averages 10.3% for 1.25km, however that doesn’t tell the whole story.
As you can see in the profile above, the opening 479m are a rather “leisurely” 3.6%. All hell will break loose soon after though, as the final 700m averages a leg-breaking 15% and that includes a crazy 26% maximum gradient!
I’m not even sure the streetview does it justice. Whoever wins here tomorrow will have deserved it!
How will the race pan out?
It could be a really disorganised and messy stage.
The climbs are tough enough to make it a selective day in the saddle but they aren’t difficult enough so that we only see a group of 5-6 guys come to the finish climb together.
Furthermore, there are quite a few teams here with a few GC candidates, such as Sky/BMC/Bora who might decide to play the numbers game rather than control the bunch all day.
Feasibly, we could see a winning move go away on the second ascent of Zameczek if it contains the right teams and riders.
As the descent over the top of the penultimate climb isn’t too hard and doesn’t really favour a lone rider, I would be surprised if a team really pushes it on that penultimate climb to reduce the peloton drastically.
So i present two situations;
An attack goes on the last ascent of the Zameczek that includes some strong riders from the main teams. It will most likely need a Bora, Sky, BMC, Katusha and Orica rider involved if it is to succeed. Obviously, other teams might be there too or not involved, but those squads listed look the strongest to bring any break back. That group stays away and fights out the finish.
A race of attrition where things get whittled down and we have a peloton of 20 riders or so approach the foot of the final climb to the line and its every man for himself on with a finish very reminiscent of Flèche Wallonne.
I think Situation 1 edges it.
As I’ve already rambled a bit, I’ll not be extensive with my riders in the following section!
For a bit of fun, this is who I think could possibly be in that near end of stage move (watch none of them be in it now);
Hermans, Haig, Anacona, Rosa, Konrad*, Oomen, Spilak, Visconti, Costa and Hirt.
*I had grand ambitions for Konrad on this stage given his climbing ability and good result at Fleche, but alas he finished 1’55 down today so that’s out the window.
I’ll highlight a couple of others I like for this stage though.
The UAE rider has had a good season so far; picking up a GC win in Abu Dhabi and a few podium placed finishes at the Giro. He was solid at the recent Tour de Suisse, finishing 5th on GC there. Like a lot of the peloton, he hasn’t raced in over a month but he’ll surely fancy his chances here as these week-long stage races are his bread and butter. He’s faired well at FW in the past which is a good indication for this finish. If he arrives in a small group his punchy nature could see him take a great stage win.
Not normally given the chance to lead a Sky team for GC, this race looks like the perfect opportunity for both he and his team to test out that possibility. With Poels also in the squad, they have the ability to send someone on the attack early and play the waiting game behind. Rosa has only had one race day since the Giro, his National Championships but I still think he can go well here. He’s a strong hilly classics rider, as was shown towards the end of last season, and tomorrow’s terrain has that type of feel to it. Can he succeed?
I think yes…
DiegoRosa to win!
1pt EW on them both (with B365)
Rosa @ 33/1
Costa @ 22/1
Thanks as always for reading and I hope you enjoyed the in-depth route analysis. I certainly enjoyed writing it! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
Orica and Bora controlled the break for most of the day and they had them within touching distance at 40km to go. Not wanting to catch them too early, they let the gap extend again, eventually reeling them in just before the start of the final circuits.
There were a few attacks off the front from Oss and Marczynski, followed by Martinelli in the closing kilometre.
However, they were all in vain as it was brought back for a big bunch sprint. Sagan launched relatively early but his acceleration was immense and he quickly got a gap. Ewan tried to close, and he did, but the finish line came too soon, the World Champion took the win!
VanPoppel finished fast for Sky to take home third.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
Another day that if you looked at the official profile, you might be confused for thinking this is a day for the puncheurs. Alas, it is another sprint.
We finish with the same circuit that we’ve had in Katowice the past few years and it has thrown up a few surprising results.
The circuit itself undulates a little bit but the climbs aren’t too difficult. However, taken at increasing pace they will wear down the legs a little bit for the sprint. That is if we get a sprint…
It’s almost a guarantee that someone will try to attack before the finish. Just after the 2km to go mark the road does rise all the way until the roundabout where the riders will make a “180-degree” turn. The rise itself averages 2.8% for 750m. Enough to cause a bit of panic in the sprinters teams if there is a bit of a stall in chasing.
The downhill run to the line makes it a very odd sprint where riders stay seated most of the time. It is a sight to behold!
It sometimes produces an odd result where a rider can sit in the slipstream and pop out in the final 50m to seize the day. Van Genechten’s win in 2014, video above, is a great example of that.
A tale of two sprinters – again?
It was clear today that Sagan and Ewan are just a cut above the rest of the riders here.
The World Champion in theory suits tomorrow’s finish even more. A stronger rider, he should in theory be able to put a lot more power into the pedals while seated. We saw this at the Tour de Suisse where he trounced everyone in a slightly downhill effort on the final day of racing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him double up tomorrow. There is always a concern with Sagan though that he gives a chance for a team-mate to go for glory, especially now that he has his own stage win. Maybe Baška?
However, Ewan can’t be counted out. He finished very fast today, indicating that he is in good form. With Mezgec as his lead-out man he should be put into a good position, but will he be able to finish it off?
They won’t have it all their own way on a finish like this.
Van Poppel – Looked strong today, finishing very fast. If he’s in a good position tomorrow he could finish higher than 3rd.
Minali – Likewise, I was impressed with the Italian. He was the first to launch his sprint and held on strongly for 4th. He looks like a powerful rider so a seated effort might suit him.
Bonifazio – Fast but poorly positioned. The ultimate hot and cold sprinter. He seemed to glide through the peloton when I had backed him on the opening road stage of the Tour de Suisse, but it was too late as Gilbert already had the stage won. Can he make amends tomorrow?
We saw today that the finish was very chaotic with riders coming up in dribs and drabs to try to control the peloton. With Sagan and Ewan seemingly the strongest here, a few of the other sprint teams might not co-operate and it leaves a gap open for a strong rider to attack.
Vakoc tried his hand two years ago but was swiftly brought to heel. A few years stronger, I think he has the power to get a gap and maintain it if there is some hesitation behind. He’s one to watch out for as Quick Step don’t have a sprinter here. The Czech rider did provide 10 seconds worth of excitement back in 2015 when I had backed him at 400/1…
If not him, maybe Terpstra will give it a go?
Dennis is another rider who could squirrel away. BMC like QS have no designated sprinter and they were interested in trying something today. Tomorrow’s stage is a lot more suited for a late attack. Could anyone stop the best short TTer in the world if he gets a gap?
Most likely we’ll get a sprint and most likely it will be Sagan who’ll take the win again!
I think Minali can sneak onto the podium if he times his effort better, he looks good just now!
Not taking a risk on Sagan at his price but I do think Minali is a good EW play, plus a bit on Vakoc, for old times sake;
0.9pt EW Minali @ 16/1 with Bet365
0.2pt WIN Vakoc @ 200/1 with Bet365
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it be a bunch sprint or will a late attacker prevail? Anyway,
After spending a few years at .HC level, the race makes the step up to WT status for 2017. A decision that I’m not so sure about as with two WT races already going on at the weekend; team’s resources will be stretched to the limit and we could see some weaker teams sent here because of it. Furthermore, it takes away the opportunity for the UK Continental teams to shine. Oh well, it is what it is!
Last year saw the race come back for a relatively large bunch sprint which TomBoonen won.
The Aussie duo of Renshaw and Matthews followed the Belgian home to round out the podium.
Will we see a similar outcome this year? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
The organisers have slightly shortened the route for this edition, removing one of the climbs that we normally have during the middle of the race.
Rolling out from London, the riders will face fairly flat roads with only a few minor lumps before reaching the first KOM of the day; Staple Lane.
Uncategorised in last years race, it’s not an overly tough climb mainly due to the amount of false flat that it has. However, there are a few steep ramps and some longer sections at +5%. I wouldn’t expect it to do any damage to the peloton though.
Staple Hill does kick off the “serious” section of the race where the riders will be facing climbs every 15km or so.
Next on the agenda is Leith Hill.
A more challenging climb than Staple Hill, we could see some of the stronger climbing teams push the pace on here to try to put the sprinters into difficulty early on.
Once over the top they’ll face a long shallow descent before the first passage of Ranmore Common.
Another short climb, the peloton will no doubt fly up it. The gradient does get steepest near the top, peaking at 16%, which does offer a great opportunity to attack. Even more so because there are a few kilometres of false-flat to continue to apply the pressure on once you’re over the summit. The riders will then complete a loop back through Dorking and complete the Ranmore climb for a second time.
With roughly 50km remaining, the riders will face the last KOM of the day; Box Hill.
For the professional peloton it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, but it depends how aggressive the race has been up to that point. If we’ve had some very fast racing over the previous 60km then the 3.9% average gradient might seem a little harder than it is on paper!
When off the descent, the riders will have just over 40km until the finish in London. A lot of the route is flat in general, but the road does roll quite a lot. One thing British roads are known for is being “heavy” and energy sapping. This could really be of the detriment to any group up the road if they’ve already expended a lot of energy and the peloton is chasing keenly behind. Conversely though, narrow roads make it hard for a team to organise a chase.
The finish in London itself is the same we’ve had the past few years with the sprint along the Mall.
As with most races in the UK, you never know what type of weather you’ll get on the day of the event.
Looking just now, the forecast for Kingston-upon-Thames has some possible localised thunderstorms mid-afternoon.
That could certainly make the run in for home interesting; especially with a strong tailwind helping those staying away.
However, in Dorking (where most of the climbs are near) there is no rain forecast with fairly clear skies promised for the majority of the day!
All of this can change in an instant though and I wouldn’t be surprised if the forecast is different later on this evening compared to what it is when I’m looking at it now (10:30 am).
How will the race pan out?
The past 4 editions of the race have seen a small group stay away two times, with a reduced bunch sprint deciding the winner on the other occasions.
With the race now stepped up to WT level, we could see a race where teams are more happy to control the day hoping for a sprint and to gain some crucial WT points.
The step up also means that teams are able to bring an extra rider; 7 compared to 6 the past few years. Consequently, the bigger teams have another “disposable” rider to try to control the breakaway up ahead.
Conversely though, quite a few teams bring squads where they have riders who can cover both options.
I think I’m hoping more than anything else that we’ll get an exciting, attacking race, but I fear that it could end up being a relatively dull and controlled day.
The majority of you seem to think the same way!
Off the back of a great Tour de France, the Aussie will arrive here looking to keep the momentum going. As one of the best climbing sprinters in the world, he might actually get his team to apply some pressure on the KOMs during the middle of the race. He’s not the fastest on a pure flat sprint like the one we have tomorrow so he needs to take advantage elsewhere. He has a solid lead-out but it’s made up of mostly sprinters so they might be a bit disorganised. His team doesn’t really have anyone that will ride tempo on the front of the peloton all day so I’m intrigued to see if they try to get someone into the break.
Bitterly disappointed with his performance at the Tour, he’ll be here hoping to make amends tomorrow. In this type of field he should be making it over the climbs if they’re not rode aggressively and he should be there at the finish. Is he getting past his prime and starting to decline in prowess? Unfortunately, I think so. He just doesn’t seem as fast as he used to be and that’s shown at the Giro and Tour. I wouldn’t be placing my house on him to win tomorrow!
After picking up a handful of podiums at the Giro but just missing out on that elusive Grand Tour win, he bounced back with two wins in Slovenia. However, he’s not raced since the Irish Road Champs over a month ago so it will be interesting to see where his form is at. A rider I rate highly, he should be able to get over the climbs in fairly good shape and will be one of the fastest guys at the finish. If he’s on form…
According to an interview with Doull, Team Sky are backing Viviani 100% and that the Italian is in good form. Are they that confident in him or is that a bluff? Because to be honest, I wouldn’t be confident in Viviani winning! Sky have a few cards to play if the race does become attacking, such as Kennaugh or Stannard, so maybe they’re trying to play mind games with everyone. To be fair to Viviani, he did win a couple of stages in Austria recently but the field was hardly stacked with sprinting talent; Vanmarcke came home behind him in 2nd and 3rd on those two days.
Another rider who was poor at the Tour, he did seem to grow into the race as it progressed. However, he was then involved in a crash and that put a halt to things for him. If this was Kristoff of 2014 or 2015 vintage, there would be no point in having anyone else turn up as he would have this race in the bag. Can he roll back the years tomorrow? I’m sure he’ll be doing a rain dance tonight anyway!
Aside from those guys, there are plenty of riders who could get involved in a sprint including;
Drucker – Former winner, would need some of the faster guys to be distanced. In good form at the moment, picking up a win in Wallonie.
Theuns – I’m a big fan of his and without Degenkolb here he’ll now be designated sprinter. With De Kort and Stuyven he has a strong short lead-out. Does he have the legs to compete?
CortNielsen – After promising so much towards the end of last year he’s been a bit “meh” so far this season. A good climbing sprinter, he’ll probably want a tough race. If he’s not there, Orica might turn to Impey.
There are others, but I don’t want to list 20% of the start list!
There are a few names I want to throw into the proverbial hat for this section.
The Belgian Champion was one of the MVPs of the Tour, working selflessly for Bardet every day. Due to how well his team-mate was going, Naesen never got a chance to shine himself but tomorrow could be that day. AG2R arrive with an attacking team, as let’s be honest, Barbier isn’t going to win the sprint. A super strong rider on the short climbs and on the flat, he should be good enough to get into the moves.
A rider who earned a lot of my respect during the Tour, he often found himself last man standing as support for Dan Martin. Climbing better than ever before, he tried to get into the winning break on the penultimate road stage but just missed out. Quick Step don’t bring a proper sprinter as such, although that is doing Trentin a little bit of a disservice, so they’ll be trying to animate the race as much as possible. Bauer could be the man who makes it two in a row for them!
Another rider just out of the Tour, he was also climbing well on a few of the mountain stages, helping his team-leader Uran. Much more of a classics rider, tomorrow’s route suits him quite well and he is certainly a guy who can attack in the middle part of the race. Cannondale have an aggressive team and I expect to see Van Baarle on the move at some time. Will Tour legs benefit him?
I really hope we see an attacking and exciting race but I think there will be enough motivation behind to bring things back for a sprint.
In that situation, I’ll go for a Bennett win.
I’ll be waiting (possibly with bated breath) for a Bauer/ Naesen / Van Baarle attack though…
No real value at the top of the order and if you’re to back a sprinter it is definitely an in-play day but I might avoid that completely.
Happy to have a gamble on two of my outsiders though;
0.5pt WIN on them both at B365;
Bauer @ 200/1
Van Baarle @ 100/1
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,
As I don’t have enough time to do a full GC preview I thought I’d include them at the start of this preview.
Last year we saw TimWellens secure the overall title in absolutely horrendous conditions on Stage 5.
He won that stage by almost 4 minutes and it highlights how bad the weather can get in the region. There is some rain forecast for this week but it changes severity and when/where it will fall every day so there is no point looking too far ahead.
As for the stages themselves, it will be stages 3, 6 and 7 that decide GC. Although it will mainly be 6 and 7. Stage 6 is almost a carbon copy of the stage Wellens won last year, with Stage 7 very similar to the day that was cancelled last year due to the weather.
The bookmakers have made Sagan their favourite, which is hilarious. I know that we will most likely see Tour Sagan here, meaning that he can climb better than Spring Sagan, but the final two days will be too tough for him, even with the bonus seconds he should get. They’re proper GC days.
However, calling an actual winner of the race will be tough. Riders arrive all over the place in terms of form and looking towards the end of the season. We have no real dominant teams with stand-out riders so to speak, and most squads have a couple of guys who could theoretically challenge. Therefore, I’m hoping that we see some aggressive and unpredictable racing over the coming week!
As for a name to throw into the hat, I think JanHirt could go well here. With a breakthrough performance at the Tour of Croatia, swiftly followed up by an even more outstanding 12th on GC at the Giro, he really is having the best season of his career so far. Riding for Polish Pro-conti team CCC Sprandi Polkowice, I imagine they’ll have targeted this race to go well at. Looking at their squad, Hirt looks like the rider best suited for a GC push and if he picks up where he left off at the Giro, he is a dark horse here.
Enough of me throwing about wild outsiders for the overall, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the opening day of racing
You might be tricked into thinking that tomorrow is a day that wouldn’t look out-of-place in the Ardennes. However, once you realise that they Y-axis is completely messed up then you’ll realise it is a straight forward sprinters stage!
Like I have done for throughout the Tour of Poland, I have made a profile of the opening stage. (The one you see above).
It is almost pan-flat throughout the day with very little to worry the sprinters. The only thing that might cause them some concern is the little 6.7% kicker in the closing circuit, but I mean that is really stretching things as it only lasts for 135m!
The closing circuit itself is very straightforward with only a few tight turns. Once the riders pass under the Flamme Rouge it is a straight run in to the line. There is one traffic island that splits the road briefly at ~800m to go but that is all there is by means of difficulties for the riders.
We should see a really fast sprint and a big fight for position between the lead-outs. Unfortunately, this could lead to a crash as it often seems to be on the most simple run-ins that riders come into difficulty.
Sprint Contenders – A Two Horse Race?
The Aussie pocket rocket starts as the bookmakers favourite and I can understand why. A flat stage with a criterium style finish sounds right up the Orica riders street. He’s proven himself to be one of the fastest sprinters in the world on these types of finishes and in a lacklustre field he will fancy his chances. Having Mezgec as last man for him could be crucial.
Bitterly disappointed to be kicked out of the Tour, he will no doubt be here with a point to prove. With his season’s goals now shifted ever so slightly; I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him go to the Vuelta. This race will be ideal for him to keep his legs ticking over. He was flying in the pure sprints at the Tour de Suisse and I see no reason for that to be any different here. He’ll be Ewan’s biggest rival.
Away from those two we have several riders who will be hoping to challenge for the podium and with a bit of luck, possibly sneak the win. I won’t talk much about them as I don’t really know what to expect after most of them not having raced for a while.
Has shown a lot of promise this year, including a fairly strong cobbled campaign. God-awful at the Giro (I’ll blame myself for that one), he bounced back fairly strongly to win d’Argovie, yet he was trounced by Sagan in Suisse. I think the latter might happen again.
Bonifazio – A hot and cold sprinter. Sometimes seems like he could be the next big thing, but more often than not is out of position and finishes fast.
Van Poppel – Hasn’t really had an opportunity to shine at Sky this season but on his day he has a good turn of speed.
Walscheid – Has taken 5 pro sprint wins in his career, all of which were at Hainan last year. Can he make the step up at World Tour level? In this field he has a chance.
Sbaragli – Would prefer something tougher but the Dimension Data rider has one of the best lead-outs here. Will that be enough to see him onto the podium?
Debuscherre – Not really taken the step forwards that I had hoped this season. A fast rider on his day, he doesn’t have much support so will have to freewheel.
Minali – Fast young Italian sprinter who should enjoy the pan-flat nature of the route. Could surprise like he did at the start of the season.
Two horse race and going purely off of form, I have to give this one to Sagan!
He was on another level in Suisse and who knows what he could have done at the Tour. After losing out to Ewan in January, he’ll want to remind him and everyone that’s watching of how fast he is!
GC wise I’m going to have a small one on;
Hirt 0.25pt EW @ 150/1 with various.
2.5pts WIN Sagan @ 3/1 with SkyBet. (Would take 11/4 with others)
Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow and the race overall? If you haven’t already, please do check out my Ride London Classique and San Sebastian previews that are on the site already. Thanks! Anyway,
One of my favourite races of the year returns this weekend for its 37th edition. The Klasikoa marks the shift in the season from post-Tour blues to pre-Vuelta hype! An exciting Spanish one-day race that offers those a chance at glory for Ardennes style riders along with GC talents looking to prove a point after La Grand Boucle.
In 2016 we saw the latter, with Mollema taking a great solo victory.
He crested the final climb of the day along with Gallopin, Valverde and Rodriguez but the Trek rider decided to seize his opportunity and attack; not looking back until the finishing straight.
Given the two Spaniards discontent for each other, Gallopin was stuck with the world’s hardest negotiating job trying to get the trio to work together. In the end, he did the majority of the work but it was too late. He managed to sprint for 2nd, a slight consolation but it was a case of what could have been for the Frenchman, with Valverde following wheels into third.
Will we see something similar this year?
Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the riders.
The organisers have stuck with a very similar route to what we had last year, although there seems to be a lot more climbing earlier in the day compared to 2016.
However, I don’t expect the racing to get exciting until the first passage of the Jaizkibel at 127km, just over halfway through the race. Saying that, it probably won’t be until the second passage at roughly 60km to go that we will see the race liven up as this is a potential for a race winning move if the group contains the right riders and teams.
More than likely though, it will come down to the final climb of the Murgil and the descent/run to the line that follows.
Now, I wouldn’t call the climb Tontorra and I’m sure there was a similar issue last year where the organisers labelled the climb Murgil Tontorra when it should be called Murgil Bidea. That’s just me nitpicking though!
The climb itself is short but very sharp. However, its severity does depend on the source you are looking at. On the profile above it is a 1.9km long climb at 10.2% average. That’s close to the 1.7km at 10.3% that Strava suggests it is.
Yet, the organisers on their website claim it is 2.5km at a 9% average. The road does rise a little bit before the climb starts properly but to say it is that length is probably a bit generous. So I think there might be a mistake on their website!
Last year Devenyns managed the Bidea climb in 5’42 according to the Strava segment above. Watching the footage from the race, he seems to crest the summit ~18 seconds after the front 4 so that gives you an idea of the time of the ascent for the front group; 5’24.
Borderline between tipping the scales towards the pure climbers and away from those Ardennes specialists, it should produce an exciting finish.
The race doesn’t end at the summit though and we are often treated to a tactical battle on the false-flat/descent/flat run in to the line.
With no Valverde and Rodriguez here this year, we might actually see a group co-operate if they get away off the front!
A big cause of debate is how much does completing a Grand Tour help a riders legs and form. We often hear of riders saying that they feel the benefits of it the following year, but there are also short-term benefits too.
If the race isn’t too hard, then riders can carry their form over to some races the following months and we often see riders use the Vuelta as preparation for the World Championships for example.
The same can be said for the Tour and some of the races that follow at the end of July/start of August.
In fact, the last 10 editions of San Sebastian have been won by a rider who has came from the Tour.
The table above highlights the top 3 at the last 10 editions of Klasikoa with their GC positions at the Tour in brackets. NR means that the rider did not compete at the Tour.
Looking at the table in more depth, it seems that riding the Tour is key for a good result in San Sebastian with only 6/30 of the podium places occupied by those who didn’t race La Grand Boucle. That trend seems to be even more prevalent as of late as only Meersman and Gilbert have podiumed in the last 5 years without having completed the Tour.
The average GC position of the winner for the last 10 years is 26.8 and with Romain Hardy’s Fortuneo team not competing here, we’ll round-up and go with Dani Navarro for the win…
Joking aside, it does seem that those coming from the Tour have an advantage but these “rules” can be broken!
Let’s have a look at who’ll be in the mix come the end of the race.
One of the first four riders to crest the climb and eventual race winner, he returns back this year to defend his title. Having taken his first ever Tour win a few weeks ago he will be buoyed with confidence. Being able to take it “easy” during some of the stages should mean that he is fresher here than he was last year, where he seemed to be dead on his feet by the end of the race. Maybe that will have the opposite effect than what was expected?
Second place last year, the Frenchman has a very impressive record at this race and it seems to suit him very well. I thought the climb might have been on his limit last year but it is proof that the race suits those who can put out a lot of watts for a short period of time! After his crash in the opening TT he was really attacking in the second half of the Tour, getting into the breakaway every few days. He’s a good candidate for another top 5 result. Team-mate Benoot could also be in the mix.
So close to a win in the final TT of the Tour, Kwiatkowski was arguably the best domestique of the whole race. The length and quality of turns he did on the front of the race was incredible. Interestingly though, he lost the majority of his time during the TT on the short climb. So I’m beginning to wonder if he was lost some of his explosivity in exchange for more endurance. Will he be able to follow the best tomorrow?
If Kwiatkowski isn’t there, then you would expect Landa to be there or thereabouts. He was incredible for the majority of the Tour but he did seem to tire at the end. Is doing the Giro and Tour finally taking a toll on his legs? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him ride everyone off his wheel tomorrow, or blow up early. I’m leaning towards the latter happening.
The Colombian rode the Tour of his life to finish second overall, notching up a stage win along the way. He is clearly in scintillating form but how much has that race taken out of him? This season he seemed to be transforming into more of a one-day racer and he goes well on courses like this; he really should have won Lombardia at the end of last year. He has shown in the past few weeks he has the power to follow the best on the climbs and the speed to finish it off, can he do it again tomorrow?
The rider who was the focal point of one of my favourite photos from the whole Tour arrives here as Sunweb’s leader, or does he? Dumoulin might have a say in that! Nonetheless, Barguil was incredible over the past three weeks; two stage wins, the KOM jersey and a top 10 on GC. In that final week of the race, he was putting out climbing numbers only the top guys on the overall standings could match. If he has kept that form up, then he should be in the front group on the final climb. Like Uran, he also packs a handy sprint from a small group. This looks like his best opportunity in a while to take a one-day race win!
Bookmaker’s favourite, he is another rider with a good history at this race. He famously crashed into a motorbike while attacking away from everyone in 2015, while last year he couldn’t follow the best on the climb. Fairly disappointing at the Tour, I think we might see a repeat of last year’s performance from him. The same can be said for another rider of a similar build, Gilbert. I think it’s too early after his illness at the Tour for him to go well.
Hoping to repeat his brother’s success, the White Jersey winner will come into the race with some pressure on his shoulders. His team tried to set the race up for him last season but he couldn’t follow the pace on the climb, probably because he didn’t have the Tour in his legs! This year he has, but he did look a little bit jaded towards the end of the race. Is he going to do a Mollema though?
There are a handful of possible outsiders who could go well such as Roglic or even Lammertink (Maurits).
As for those who weren’t at the Tour, they’ll find it hard to compete. Nonetheless, I think we could see Lopez, Dumoulin and possibly Fraile be in or around the top 10.
Tour legs will shine through so I’ll go for one of the form riders of the race, it is just a case of who…
I have two in mind, either Barguil or Uran.
Given his better sprint, I’ll go for Uran to take the win, he is flying just now and a result here will top off a great July for him!
I wouldn’t normally go EW on the two of them at their current odds but given that both could sprint for second or third behind a solo winner then I think it is worth it.
1pt EW on them both;
Uran @ 16/1 with Boyles (paying 4 places) would take 14/1 elsewhere
Barguil @ 20/1 with Ladbrokes/Coral
Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see a small sprint to the line or will a solo rider take the day? Anyway,
The “richest race in women’s cycling” returns for its 5th edition, but second at World Tour level.
Last year saw KirstenWild take home the big prize, winning a bunch sprint ahead of ahead of Kessler and Kirchmann.
The race has a lot of positives going for it; big prize pool and live TV coverage are the main things.
However, the organisers can never seem to get the magical triple* just right, can they?
*Prize Money / Tv Coverage / Good Route
Which brings me onto another women’s preview where I annoyingly start by moaning and having a go at something, but after the nonsense TT (chase) we had last weekend, I’m past the point of caring!
Can we stop glorifying what are pretty much criterium races as progress for women’s cycling please? I’m not trying to be some internet white knight but they deserve better than this. Last week the opening “stage” of La Course was fantastic with the finish on the Izoard but making that only 67km was a little bit insulting. Having a criterium that is the same length and branding it as “spectacular” just takes the piss.
Why can the women not do the nearly the same route (the UCI limit of 155km will stop them doing it all) as the men, heck, they could even do the last 120km of it. I don’t understand why that is such a big issue for the organisers!
I miss the start of the season when we had races such as Strade Bianche etc, proper races that gave the women a chance to shine on a taxing course. Obviously, there needs to be a balance between having races for climbers and sprinters but I don’t see why races for the latter group have to be tamed down so much. Even at the recent Giro Rosa and Women’s Tour we had sprint stages of 100+km so there is no real reason why that couldn’t be the same here.
Anyway, let’s have a look at what’s getting me worked up.
A pretty much pan-flat 5.5km circuit around London taking in some famous sites. Maybe that’s what makes it “spectacular”?
I was going to create a route profile on Strava but there is not much detail to know more than there are a few false flat sections!
I’m not entirely sure how many times they’ll be doing the circuit as there is no official information on the website as to the number of laps, but last year it was 12 x 5.5km laps so I imagine it will be the same this year.
The one positive from this route is that fans get to see their favourite female cyclists 12 times…
We should see a sprint at the end of the day, it has ended in that manner in each previous edition, but there is always that 5% chance that a strong group gets away and there is no co-operation behind. That is very unlikely though!
The defending is champion is back here looking to take another victory. A little bit underwhelming so far this season, only taking two wins to her name. However, this type of racing suits her down to the ground and she can’t be ruled out. On form I would say it is hard for her to win, but given her nature I’d say it is very possible that she goes back to back!
The Belgian Bullet is arguably her biggest contender. The newly crowned Belgian champion got the better of Wild on two occasions in Chongming earlier this season. What’s even more impressive about that is that she was riding with an injury for the majority of the race! Having taken some more wins to her name since then, she has to start as the favourite in my opinion.
After her breakthrough season last year, Hosking has continued her success in 2017; notching up a few wins, including a strong sprint victory at the Women’s Tour. All of this has resulted in her contract being extended with Alé Cipollini, the Italian team have a lot of faith in her. In last years race she was boxed in and never really got going so she’ll be hoping to go better this time. With a 1st and 2nd at La Course and Madrid Challenge respectively last season, it is clear Hosking goes well on these type of kermesse style races. Having a rider like Bastianelli to lead her out means she should begin her sprint from a good position. Will she be challenging for the win tomorrow?
After a storming start to her season in the Spring, Lepistö returned to racing recently winning the National Championships double. More impressively though, she followed it up with a win and two second places at the tough Giro Rosa. A sign she is back up to race speed nicely! Her team support here isn’t great so she will have to go solo and jump onto another team’s lead-out but that is something she is capable of. She is a strong outside candidate for a good result.
A stand out performer in the Spring, the Sunweb rider picked up a couple of podium places at the Giro. Used to criterium style races thanks to her US up-bringing she will be strong on a course like this. With riders such as Brand, Kirchmann and VanDijk on her team, I would argue that she has the strongest lead-out in the race. Can she finish it off?
A preview isn’t complete without the best female rider of her generation. After crashing out of the Women’s Tour, Vos returned to racing at the BeNe Ladies Tour. It didn’t start off ideally for her when she crashed in the opening prologue, but from there it went exceptionally well! She picked up two second places and two wins to take the overall GC title. Is another win on the cards here?
The young Brit will be full of confidence after recently taking her first win at the aforementioned BeNe Ladies Tour. She escaped with Vos on the opening stage and managed to beat her in a two-up sprint, not bad! I have been very impressed with her this season so far and I think she’s capable of another good result here.
Every team has a rider or two who could be involved at the pointy end of the day so some riders to keep a look out for are;
There are too many teams interested in a sprint for us not to get a bunch gallop. With Bronzini leading her out, d’Hoore should be placed into a great position for the run to the line. These types of races are her bread and butter! She’s not let me down before, so I’ll go for her again, the Belgian Bullet to take the win!
I think Alice Barnes might sneak onto the podium too.
The last 40 minutes of the race are being shown live on BBC2 (from 6pm GMT), with the whole event being shown via the Red Button (from 5pm GMT).
As for international coverage I’m not too sure, but there are plenty of sites out there where you can stream BBC2! Maybe the BBC site itself will work via VPN?
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
One second. Again! Think this must be the 6th time in two years that the rider I’ve backed for a timed event has lost out by one second.
Kwiatkowski rode a great TT but was just pipped by fellow countryman Bodnar, the latter getting revenge for being crushed by the Sky rider at nationals. After Sagan’s dismissal and Majka’s withdrawal it is good to see Bora still going well and challenging when they can!
Froome came home third to convincingly take his 4th Tour title. Well, convincingly might not be the best word to use as he has looked anything but that this race, however the two TTs have won it for him! I wonder how the GC would have panned out if we had Valverde and Porte still here.
Oh well, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on their final day of racing.
You know the score by now, a little jaunt from the outskirts of Paris that finishes with some laps of the Champs-Élysées.
A processional stage that will get more exciting once we hit the laps themselves.
Coming out from the underpass first with a few lead-out men in front of your sprinters is important. From there, being able to lead it through the sweeping bends with 500m to go will put your sprinter into a prime position into the closing straight.
That’s about that for the route, nothing more needs to be said really!
Weather wise the riders will start out in overcast conditions but that could all change later on in the stage depending on how processional they make the day.
A wet finish could certainly make things a bit more lively.
This is the Tour, not the Giro, so we will see a sprint finish tomorrow. With Kittel no longer here, the door has been opened for the rest of the fast men to take a stage win and it could consequently become a bit hectic because of that.
The Green Jersey winner (as long as he finishes tomorrow) will be looking to go out with a bang. With arguably one of the best lead-out trains, he should be put into a good position. Brimming with confidence just now, does he have the speed to finish off a great Tour for Sunweb?
After getting a richly deserved stage win the Dimension Data will be looking to double up tomorrow. The other rider with a strong lead-out, he should be placed into a good position in the final straight. No doubt we’ll see Van Rensburg do another monster turn to get him there! There are questions about his willingness to take risks though which could see him start his sprint from further back.
Has won a stage at every Grand Tour he’s started over the past few years. He left it late last year, taking the final stage that time round and he’ll need to do that again this year if he wants to continue that record. His experience of managing his body through a race could be vital.
The flying Dutchman hasn’t really set sail this Tour so far, picking up two podium places along the way. However, he did look like one of the fastest riders on the pure sprint into Pau and with Kittel gone he’ll be hoping to go better.
Poor. That’s how I’ll describe his Tour so far. He’s a sprinter that I think can do really well but he’s just been very disappointing during this race. He’s been positioned well only for him to decide to fight for wheels instead, or just completely lack the kick to get involved in the dash to the line. He could turn it around tomorrow and he’ll probably be doing a rain dance tonight, but it I think it’s unlikely we’ll see him on the top step.
He’s been okay this race, especially when you consider that his original aim was to help Contador on the flat days and then look after himself. Now that he’s been freed from those shackles, he’ll hope to have the favour returned to him by the team. He would prefer a tougher finish but he should be in or around the top 5.
Another rider who falls into the poor category. He was close in some of the opening few stages but has fallen by the wayside recently. Crashing the other day hasn’t helped and he’s looked a bit sketchy since then. Maybe he’ll be hoping for poor weather to help turn his race around?
Petit, Colbrelli, Cimolai, Bennati and Selig will all be fighting for the Top 10.
My angle of thought for today’s stage nearly worked: pick a rider who is clearly still in form at the end of the race.
So with that being said, I think Matthews will win the stage tomorrow.
He may not be known as the fastest rider on a pure flat sprint, but after the past week he is the only one to have shown that he is in great form. His ability to climb over some of the mountains we’ve had should see him fresher for tomorrow’s finish. Brimming with confidence, he’ll take a memorable stage win in Paris wearing Green.
1.5pt EW Matthews @ 12/1 with PP/BF (Would take 10/1 elsewhere)
Thanks as always for reading but a big thanks if you’ve stuck with me through the past 3 weeks. It’s your continued support that makes me keep going when I’ve gone on awful stage prediction runs etc! During the Tour the blog surpassed 50,000 views for the year which is incredible so thanks once again. I hope that a few of you new readers will stick around for the rest of the season as we still have plenty more racing to go.
Next on the schedule for me will be San Sebastian and both the Ride London races.
I was disappointed to wake up this afternoon to see a 20-rider breakaway up the road and none of the picks represented. Even more disappointed when scrolling through the Le Tour Race Centre feed to see that Bauer and McCarthy were involved in an earlier move, oh well!
The breakaway stayed together over the last climb and we were treated to a very tactical battle in the final 40km.
Countless attacks went and were brought back but we did see a split over a slight rise which cut the group in half. From there, we had even more attacks but it was a roundabout inside the final 3km that decided the race. The majority of the front group took the left side, whereas Arndt and BoassonHagen took the right, much shorter side.
The Norwegian picked up the pace just as Arndt was reaching his limit and swung over. Using a friendly moto he got a 5-10m gap and that was the race over from there! After all his close calls so far this race it is good to see him take the win.
Arndt held on to finish second, with Keukeleire winning the reduced bunch gallop for third.
With all the GC riders rolling home together, let’s have a look at what’s in store for them tomorrow.
A pan-flat TT apart from one very short and sharp climb.
The route is a very interesting one as the climb only makes up just over 5% of the stage. However, being an average of 9.5% for that 1.2km it will probably take the riders closer to roughly 12% of their total time.
The climb is steep and will certainly ruin the rhythm of the TT specialists. I wonder if we’ll see any bike changes before it? Personally I would say it is not worth it but you never know!
Aside from the climb, the course is more technical than the opening TT we saw in Düsseldorf. The roads are narrow, particularly along the Corniche, with the riders having to contend with a few tight turns and roundabouts. However, there are plenty of long straight sections for the powerhouses in the peloton to put the Watts down.
It will be a close battle between the TT specialists and the all-round GC riders for the stage win.
Quite often in a TT the changing weather throughout the day will play a part in deciding the outcome. However, it appears tomorrow that all the riders should have dry conditions with the later starts possibly benefiting from a drop in wind speed. Although that depends on what source you look at!
After crashing in the opening TT, the Jumbo rider has since turned things around and took an excellent stage win a couple of days ago. An excellent rider against the clock he should be there or thereabouts but I think he might have actually preferred a harder course with a longer descent!
The last TT in a Tour means Froome normally turns up. He crushed Dumoulin last year in the closing time trial and the same can be said for his effort in the Vuelta TT where he put 45 seconds into joint stage favourite Castroviejo. The route looks ideal for the Brit with power sections where he can, erm, put the power down, but the climb should be suited to him too. The only issue is that he hasn’t looked great this Tour so far, yet he finds himself in Yellow. He’s the type of rider who will want to win a stage on his way to winning the race overall and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the top step tomorrow.
Second place in the opening TT, the Swiss rider did very well to set a fast time when everyone else around him seemed to be struggling in the wet weather. He’s been anonymous since then but has possibly been saving himself for this effort. Tomorrow’s route looks similar to recent closing TT in the Tour de Suisse where he was second behind a flying Dennis. Can he repeat that performance tomorrow?
After failing to make a dream start to his race back in Düsseldorf, Martin has dabbled in a few breakaways since then. The climb is really steep for a guy like him, we saw what happened to him on the steep slopes during his solo breakaway. However, at only 1.2km long he will fancy his chances of powering up it. He should finish in the top 5 but I’m not too confident in his form just now.
If Froome and Landa want the best info as to how the course rides at race pace then they’ll need a team-mate earlier in the day to go full gas. Given how well he is currently riding, Kwiatkowski could be that man. The course looks a perfect distance for “Kawasaki” and he will probably want to honour his national champions jersey by giving it a good go. The only concern is that he might decide to have an extra rest day considering all of the work he has done so far.
The Spaniard is another rider who has had a quiet time this Tour, possibly with an eye on tomorrow’s stage. A great time trial rider he will be challenging again for the win.
As for an outsider who could challenge, I’ll once again highlight Bauer. The New Zealand TT champion got into one of the early moves today so his form is still there. Having taken it easy on the opening day, I think he might give it a nudge tomorrow. It will be tough for him to win but he could possibly sneak onto the podium if he gets lucky.
This one is tough.
I’ve chopped and changed my mind between some of the riders listed above several times so far. Making cases for and against all of them and not really coming to any concrete/confident conclusion.
If he gets to go full gas then I really think Kwiatkowski has a chance of taking a stage win and be truly rewarded for all his work over the past three weeks!
Bit of a lottery, and the 9/4 on Froome looks tempting but he’s still too short given his not so dominant performances recently.
1.35pts EW Kwiatkowski @ 20/1 with Ladbrokes/Coral (1/4 odds for 3 places)
0.15pts EW Bauer @ 500/1 with various
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
A big break went early and for a while it looked as if they would contest the stage. However, AG2R drove an infernal pace before the Izoard reducing the gap to a bridgeable amount.
Barguil was the first rider to launch a major attack from the peloton and he quickly dropped Contador who initially followed.
With a bit of stalling behind, Landa shot up off the road but he didn’t look as strong as he did a week ago in the Pyrenees. Froome, Bardet and Uran eventually bridged but it was too late for the stage win.
Barguil caught and past the only remaining breakaway rider (Atapuma) just before the last kilometre, beating the Colombian by 20 seconds in the end. This is the second Grand Tour in a row that Atapuma has finished second on the final mountain stage, coming home behind a Frenchman both times.
Bardet outsprinted Froome to gain 4 bonus seconds, while Uran lost a couple of seconds to the pair.
After all that though, the Brit is still in the driving seat to take his 4th Tour win with a TT still to come. However, there is still another road stage before then.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
A rolling day that could/should/might end in a sprint.
The longest stage of the whole race, the organisers must have been feeling a bit cruel when they came up with the route!
It’s not exactly a straightforward stage either, with a lot of rolling roads in the first part of the stage that it will make it difficult for the sprinters teams to control.
With the last categorised climb peaking out roughly 45km from the finish, will we see a charge from behind to catch the break?
The run-in itself is fairly technical and it will be fast as the road descends from about 5km to go until the Flamme Rouge, flattening out for the final kilometre.
A couple of tight turns could make it a messy run-in, but with the two close together the peloton should be strung out. Will anyone further behind through that section be able to close the gap in the closing 400m straight?
How will the stage pan out?
A big battle between the breakaway and sprinters.
Firstly, it depends on the attitude of the peloton. After a couple of tough mountain stages there will be a lot of tired bodies and I’m sure a lot of riders will be looking forward to a quieter day.
However, with only a TT and the processional final stage left, tomorrow is the only opportunity for anyone who is not a sprinter or TT specialist to have a good go for a result.
Matthews has the Green Jersey sewn up as long as he stays on his bike and with two stage wins to his name already, will he really make his team chase all day for a third? I think they deserve a rest!
It could actually be the other sprinters who might put their teams to work but with Kristoff and Degenkolb struggling today, I think it would only be Lotto Soudal and Dimension Data who would be willing to chase. Even then, it is a tough day for them to do that and they both have cards they could play in the break instead.
So with that all said, I think we could be in for a big breakaway day again with a group of 25-30 riders escaping up the road.
Two new names and two previous blog picks here;
He gave us a lot of excitement with his long-range attack on Stage 15 but was unfortunately undone by a tough climb. The rises in tomorrow’s stage are a lot easier and the powerful German should be able to handle them. If he can stay with the front group over the final Cat-3, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try another solo attack when they reach the flatter lands and there’s a lull in the action. As everyone will expect it, he’ll have to time the move to perfection but it is certainly something he is capable of.
Anyone that can average 775 Watts (12.2 w/Kg) for a minute deserves to make this list! That’s what the Aussie did when he charged through the pack towards the end of stage 14 only to fall just short and finish 5th. What could have been with better positioning! He’s been quiet since then but tomorrow looks like a good stage for him to get into the move. A good punchy climber, the ascents tomorrow shouldn’t be too hard for him and he’ll hope to make it over with the front of the breakaway. Packing a strong sprint from a reduced group, that will be his best chance of victory tomorrow. He best just hope Matthews doesn’t decide he wants to spend a day up-front!
One of the riders of the race so far in my opinion, he has been selfless in his work for both Kittel and Martin. The work he’s done for the latter has been particularly impressive, hanging with the best on some of the toughest mountains and in a very reduced peloton. He’s clearly going very well just now! With Kittel out of the race and Martin “safe” tomorrow, I imagine Quick Step will be keen to get guys into the breakaway.
No stranger to a breakaway, the Swiss rider won a stage at the Tour of Romandie from the early morning move back in April. He finished second on the opening stage but has been quiet since then, apparently not being allowed to go in breakaways because he’s too tough to bring back. Although that rumour was shot down by the rider himself. Like Martin he might try to rest for the TT the following day, or alternatively he could go on the attack to test where his legs are at. He’s a strong candidate to get a result if he makes the break and I’m sure BMC will have several riders up there.
With no sprint team really wanting to chase the breakaway fully, the morning move will stay away. Luck will be important but so will good legs! Having been so agonisingly close to a Tour stage win back in 2014, after being caught within the final 10m, JackBauer will get his “revenge” and take the day!
Tweeted the selections out before…
Wouldn’t take less than 50/1 for any of them!
Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will tomorrow and how? Anyway,