A race that will be shaped by the amount of miles against the clock, we have some of the very best GC time trial riders in the world on the start list so we should be in for an exciting week.
Last year saw Quintana take the GC win after a dominant performance on the climb of Terminillo and solid performances in the two days against the clock. Interestingly though, Thomas would have won the race were it not for the wheels coming off his title bid, quite literally on the opening day when Team Sky suffered numerous mechanicals in the TTT.
Quintana isn’t here to defend his title but Movistar do send Landa, however, he’ll probably lose too much time in the TTs to be in with a crack at the title. Although there is only one mountain top finish, there are a couple of stages where there are several “muros” so the GC riders will need to be attentive. Nonetheless, the winner of the race will need to have two good performances against the clock and hold on to the coat tails of the better climbers on the mountain top finish.
Dennis in theory should be in a great position given the two efforts against the clock but he performed poorly on Jebel Hafeet, finishing 1’43 down on the winner. That being said, he did say he felt slightly under the weather and he wasn’t exactly in bad company, finishing alongside Ion Izagirre. The extra TT kms here do give him more of a chance but I think it’ll be hard.
Dumoulin hit the headlines for his bike throwing antics in Abu Dhabi after suffering a few mechanicals in key moments there. He seemed a little off the pace though but given that he’s targeting the Giro again this year, he will want to go well in Tirreno. The route looks great for him, it all just depends on where he’s at fitness wise. He also has a very strong team-mate in the shape of Kelderman who could easily win this race himself. It will be interesting to see how Sunweb play it but having two options here is never going to be a bad thing.
Team Sky have a few options on paper but I imagine it will be Froome and Thomas leading the team. Like Dumoulin, the former is targeting the Giro so he will want to go well here. However, will the whole debacle surrounding the salbutamol case still be weighing on him? Like I said before Andalucia, I don’t think he should be racing but he’s here so he has a good a chance as anyone. Meanwhile his team-mate arrives in some sparkling form after looking very comfortable in Algarve. He should have won this race last year and he’ll be there or thereabouts again this year.
Roglic appears to be the only other guy with the TT credentials to challenge. Having only one mountain top finish will help his chances but I just can’t see him being better than the Sunweb and Sky duos. Although, he could possibly benefitting from them marking each other on the climbs. Jumbo need a big performance on the opening day and after that, he might just run them close.
However, I think Thomas will take the GC win in the end.
He looked very strong in the Algarve and having an incredibly strong team around him will help a lot.
With that out of the road, let’s have a look at what the riders will contend with on the opening day.
The race once again starts with the now seemingly traditional TTT in Lido di Camaiore.
A pan-flat out and back course with only 4 turns of note throughout the whole 21.5km. This is one for the powerful TTT squads.
There’s not really much else to say about the route, so moving on!
It is meant to rain overnight with the showers continuing into the morning. Although depending what source you consult for the forecast, then some suggest that it might keep raining all afternoon with some potential thunderstorms.
On top of the potentially damp or wet roads, the riders will have to content with a strong wind that is coming off the coast line. They’ll be thankful to know it shouldn’t be a headwind (apart from at the very top of the course for a few hundred metres) but it will certainly cause some issues with the wind blowing from the side. There is a good amount of cover from the wind though thanks to buildings, bushes and trees etc, but it might cause for a few nervous moments; especially during changeovers at the front of the train.
It’s a TTT and they have Dennis with them so they are undoubtedly favourites. The difference he makes is incredible and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do a few kilometre turns at crucial points. The pan-flat course suits their squad perfectly and it would be surprising to not see them on top of the podium come the end of the day. They’ve won this TTT in the past two seasons, can they make it three in a row tomorrow?
The team who have come closest to stopping the BMC dominance here, having finished second to them on both occasions. They bring a strong team but it is not as good as it has been in the past so I think they’ll fall short again.
They’ve started the season well in time trials and I expect that to continue here in the team event. Their squad is stacked and can definitely rival BMC and in fact, I think it might just be stronger. One important thing to consider is that Sky seem to go well in poor conditions, take the opening TT at the Tour last year for example, and if we get some rain tomorrow that increases their chances.
The TTT World Champs shocked many last year by winning that title but they will arrive here wanting to show that it was not just a one-off. With a very solid outfit I would expect them to run those at the top of the order very close; is it classed as an upset if they win?
Lotto NL Jumbo.
An ever improving team in the discipline, they bring a strong squad of rouleurs in the hope of giving Roglic as good a tilt at the GC as possible. They are missing a few of their conventional TT stars but still have a good chance of a result. The win is unlikely, but a top 5 should be their aim.
It seems to be a while since I’ve mentioned Trek in the contenders section of a TTT preview but they have brought a surprisingly good squad to the event. Mullen and Brandle are obviously very good TT riders in their own right but Felline, Stuyven and Pedersen can all hold their own on the short power events. They could be dark horses.
BMC v Sky v Sunweb.
Hmmmm, I’m really torn on this one and keep switching allegiances!
I’ll go with Sky.
Their squad has the most strength in-depth out of the start list in terms of the discipline and they seem to have the best equipment in slightly testing conditions. That will give them the edge tomorrow.
Am I backing them for the win on the day with money? Hell no! Instead it will be a little H2H 4-fold to keep me interested.
1pt on at 8.04/1
Would take it at 6/1 lowest.
No GC punts, would go for Thomas but his odds are too short.
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? It could be quite a close TTT. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.