Tour of the Alps 2017 Stage 4 Preview; Bolzano -> Cles

*Insert usual disclaimer about this being short, blah blah blah. Woke up late, missed all the live cycling today and I’m in a rush to complete this. Sincerest apologies, I promise a full length preview tomorrow evening!*

Today’s Recap

Not the large GC gaps I was expecting but stage winner and new GC leader Thomas now holds a modest 16 second gap over, third home rider of the day, Pozzovivo. It was Landa who followed the Welshman home to complete a Sky 1-2. They look ominously strong for the Giro.

1492622002105

Let’s have a look what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

An easier day in the saddle? Well yes, in terms of the finish, but there is still a lot of climbing throughout the day!

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 19.16.25

I imagine the break won’t go until the 14km long Passo Mendola and when it does, it will be a strong one.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 19.24.45

We then have a lot of rolling terrain and uncategorised climbs throughout the middle of the stage before approaching the final categorised climb of the day.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 19.25.15

Brutally steep, it comes too far from the finish to be of any danger for the GC riders but it should see a selection in the break.

We then have a long descent before some more undulating roads, all the way to the finish line which is ever so slightly downhill.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 19.27.33

Will it be the scene of a reduced bunch sprint…

How will the stage pan out?

There is the possibility that some of the GC teams try and take control of the race and make it tough, but I can’t really see that happening.

It could stay together for a sprint, but that would require Bora to take control for Pelucchi and hope that the Italian makes it over the climbs. Given his track record, that’s also unlikely! Androni might try something for Gavazzi but they will most likely use their resources elsewhere, so…

Nestle Breakaway Milk Chocolate Biscuit 8 Pack 152G

Candidates

Like normal, I’ll through a few names into the hat on this lottery of a day. For the break not to be chased hard, then the rider will need to be at least three minutes down so that get’s rid of 27 guys. Only the 108 left to choose from then…

Mattia Cattaneo. 

C5YjxujWAAE2m8q (1)

The former Baby Giro winner seems to have found his feet this season with Androni after failing to live up to his potential in the past few years at Lampre. He’s had a string of good top 10s this year and took the final stage in La Provence. At almost 4 minutes down he isn’t too much of a threat for the overall and I expect him to be attacking over the next few days and that could well be tomorrow!

Stefano Pirazzi.

The Bardiani rider infuriated his breakaway companions yesterday after refusing to work and then attacking just as the peloton was about to catch them. He seems in a sprightly mood and always manages to go well in this race. Way down on GC, he is an ideal candidate for a breakaway win.

Manuel Senni.

24037314836_e30673e2c7_b

After taking the leader’s jersey in Valenciana, the BMC rider has had a fairly promising season, with his third place in Appennino being his best individual result. He looked good that day and with BMC’s best placed rider (Caruso) sitting 8th on GC, the American outfit will have the freedom to attack and chase stage wins. Senni is a good mix of being a good enough climber to get away, but also not being Dennis, because the Aussie is too big a name to let up the road.

Think I’ll just leave it with those three as I could go on forever giving arguments for other riders.

Prediction

Breakaway stays away and I’ll go for a lively Pirazzi to take the win!

181704468-a6053ff6-c395-44d9-8b92-7a6b5d13cea3

Betting

All with B365;

Pirazzi 0.5pt WIN @ 12/1

Cattaneo 0.4pt WIN @ 14/1

Senni 0.4pt WIN @ 80/1

Adding Ludvigsson 0.2pt WIN @ 150/1 

 

Thanks as always for reading and apologies again for another brief preview. How do you think tomorrow’s stage will pan out? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tirreno Adriatico 2017 Stage 2 Preview; Camaiore -> Pomarance

Today’s Recap

Easy win for BMC in the end!

C6Z8wJFWYAIsDIk

I did say Team Sky were my outsiders if something crazy happened, but I did not expect a wheel explosion! It was an awful TT for them, with Landa and Rosa also suffering punctures, resulting in them losing 1 minute 42 seconds on the day. They’ll have to have an attacking race to salvage something now.

Could tomorrow offer an opportunity? Let’s take a look.

The Route

A long, long day in the saddle for the riders at 228km. Good practice for Milan – San Remo I guess though?!

T02_Pomarance_alt_web

Nothing really happens in the first 120km of the stage but once they’re into the final 100km the road is up and down all day.

The longest climb of the day is up to Volterra.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 13.57.43

9.85km in length, it averages 4.45% in gradient so not overly difficult. It will be interesting to see if any team comes to the front and increases the pace.

After that, we have a descent followed by some valley roads before we reach our penultimate climb of the day. There’s no official information in the road book about it, but I’ve managed to locate the Strava segment (I think!). View it here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 14.10.54

It’s 4.4km long, averaging 5.2% in gradient. However, as you can see, the climb itself is very irregular with some ramps above 15%. Cresting at just over 20km to go, will it be a launchpad for an attack?

Another fast descent follows as we head to our uphill finish in Pomarance.

T02_Pomarance_ukm

A punchy finish is what I’d certainly call it; a few steep ramps separated by a lot of false flat. It’s the same finishing town that we had last year, with Stybar winning, but it’s a slightly different finale this time round.

How will the race pan out?

This stage in theory could suit a multitude of riders, with the likes of Sagan and EBH potentially fancying their chances at the line. However, I think after the events that we saw today, tomorrow will be a much more explosive and attacking day than initially thought.

Late attack? Reduced sprint? Group of 5 or so get away? They’re all possibilities!

Sky will be really bitter and embarrassed after today and with almost being out of the race already they will have to change their approach to a more aggressive one. Not something they’re used to! I reckon they’ll get Kiryienka to set a fairly tough pace on the penultimate two climbs to try and get rid of the fast finishers such as Sagan and co. Or at least some of their squad mates.

So in my scenario we might have a peloton of 75 riders or so approaching the run in to Pomarance and then we get some fireworks.

I’m going to do my usual in this situation where the stage outcome is tough to call and name a few riders and how they can win it…

Mattia Cattaneo.

C5YjxujWAAE2m8q

The Italian has started the season very well with his new team, picking up the win in the final stage of La Provence. He was on the attack again in Industria mid-week, but could only manage 4th there. Nonetheless, he still seems to be on good shape! As part of the Androni squad, no doubt Giani Savio will be demanding that his riders are attacking throughout the stage. They’ll put someone in the break but save Cattaneo and Gavazzi for the end of the day. It would be bad for the peloton to underestimate him when he makes his move in the final 5km!

Rohan Dennis.

The rider who finished second on the stage Cattaneo won in La Provence, Dennis managed to hold on for the overall title. He seemed in scintillating form today in the TTT so he should manage this climb easily. Apparently he wants to be a legitimate second GC option here for them, so a win and some bonus seconds would help his cause! With his TT prowess, if he gets a 10 second gap then he will be tough to reel back in. Also, if the race is made too tough for GVA (will need to be ridiculously fast paced), then he will be the teams sprint option.

Diego Rosa.

sptdw4006_670

As I mentioned above, Sky will not be very happy after today and will want an immediate response. With 4 potential options on a stage like this, I imagine Rosa will actually be the one least marked. He is a brute of a rider and is capable of riding away from everyone behind on the tougher lower slopes of the climb. With a lack of co-ordination behind he could manage to hold on!

Prediction

I’ll go for an outsider from a favourites team, Rohan Dennis to win!

3stage03x_670

Betting

After today’s big stakes, I don’t want to get overly involved in tomorrow’s stage. Swithered about going EW but have decided against it!

Dennis 0.6pt WIN @ 100/1 with Betfair/PP (Would take 80s)

Rosa 0.6pt WIN @ 50/1 with Bet365 (Would take 33s)

Cattaneo 0.3pt WIN @ 66/1 with Betfair/PP

 

Thanks for reading like always! How do you think tomorrow is going to play out? I’m hoping for an exciting last 100km. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Vuelta Stage 13 Preview: Bilbao -> Urdax-Dantxarinea

Today’s Recap

Phew, that was full gas from the start! The break only managed to get away on the first categorised climb of the day. However, with the likes of Kennaugh in it, Movistar were never going to be keen to let it go. Attacks flew on the second passage of the Vivero, with Devenyns getting a reasonable gap. That move was eventually brought back and we got a reduced bunch sprint. Much to everyone’s surprise (especially Kirby who called it as Rojas from Movistar) Jens Keukeleire from Orica came out on top, producing a great sprint!

WATSON_00004732-001-630x419

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

A classic Vuelta stage.

There are 4 Cat-3 climbs so it doesn’t sound too tough on paper, but don’t let that deceive you: there is over 3500m of climbing during the stage. Combine that with it being the longest stage of the whole Vuelta (at 213.4km), it’s a very difficult day!

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 15.13.12

The Cat-3 climbs shouldn’t be overly difficult for either the break, or the peloton. However, the final one (Puerto de Lizaieta)  will possibly be influential in the outcome of the stage. 7.2km long, at an average gradient of 4.8% won’t leave the riders quaking in their boots but after the past few days and with the climbing already covered in the stage it could cause a few splits in the break.

More than likely though (Ruben Plaza isn’t here), the stage will be won in the final 40km…

download (2)

As with previous stages where nothing is clear on the official stage profile, I’ve created a Strava profile of those final 40km. Or at least I think I have, the road book author seems to have been putting in a lot less effort for these stages, it’s harder to figure out where the stage actually goes…

Anyway, you can view that here.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 17.49.06
Profile of the final 40km

The final 40km is a microcosm of the entire stage, up and down all the time!

The climb that comes at around 22.5km mark is 2km long and averages 5.6%. With its position in the race, someone could try to launch a move from here. If not, then it will come down to the final climb/descent of the day (which the riders tackle twice), that I’m naming the Zugarramurdi climb.

Averaging only 3.75% for the 4km, it sounds pretty easy on paper. However, that includes a false flat section, before it kicks up again. The first km actually averages 10%, which is the perfect place for a stinging attack.

If someone crests the summit alone, they should be able to solo to victory as the descent will be fast and runs almost all the way to the finish line. There’s only around 600m of flat from the bottom to the line itself.

How will the stage pan out?

I can’t see anything past a breakaway tomorrow. I know I’ve said that the past few days, but it is too much work for any of the teams to hold it together, especially considering the monster stage that we have the following day.

So once again I’ll be naming a few candidates for the escape. Some proper longshots here!

Larry Warbasse (again).

Amstel Gold Race 2016

You know my thoughts on him by now. A solid all-rounder in search of a contract. He should be able to deal with the climbs and his been trying to get into the breaks daily. A solid rouleur, he could use his strength on the flat to get away.

Tobias Ludvigsson (again).

As you probably know by now, I’m a big fan of big T. Ludvigsson is climbing better than ever this Vuelta, finishing relatively high up on some of the tough summit finishes. As I’ve alluded to in previews earlier in the race, he is a rider in the same ilk as Tom Dumoulin and seems to be transforming in to more of an all-rounder. He seemed disappointed to have had a mechanical today. He could use his TT engine to his advantage and escape from the break and solo to the finish line. Easier said than done!

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 18.16.03
Extract from the Giant website

Mattia Cattaneo.

Cycling: 71st Tour of Spain 2016 / Stage 8

A very promising junior, Cattaneo has failed to take home a win in the pro-ranks. However, he was very active in the break earlier on in the race, finishing 4th on Stage 8. It looks like he’s slowly starting to find his form/feet again, and tomorrow’s stage looks to suit him more than a proper summit finish. The other riders in the break would be wrong to give him too much room in the finale!

Prediction

The break has to win, I mean, doesn’t it?!

I’ll go for the main man himself, Big Tobias Ludvigsson to take home the stage. As I said above, he seems to be in great form at the moment and is climbing better than ever. Tomorrow’s rolling (not proper Alpine mountains) day should suit him well.

Ch8eIVcU4AA_mI7

Apologies for this being more abrupt than normal, I’m away most of tomorrow so having to write both previews this evening. Keeping things short and sweet!

Betting

Small stakes on each of the three mentioned;

0.5pt Ludvigsson @ 100/1 (B365)

0.3pt Warbasse@ 250/1 (B365)

0.2pt Cattaneo @ 300/1 (B365)

Like normal, hunt around when other bookies price up (copy B365 😉 )

No H2Hs as of yet, but if I see anything I like then I’ll post them on my Twitter.

 

Thanks for reading, any feedback is greatly appreciated! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.