Vuelta a Andalucia 2018 Stage 5 Preview; Barbate › Barbate

Today’s Recap

Well that was an excellent finish!

The race all came together again just at the bottom of the final climb into Alcalá de los Gazules and Landa swiftly made an explosive attack. Only Wellens was able to follow the Movistar man and the two went back and forth for the closing kilometre. However, it was Wellens who took charge in the closing few hundred metres, rounding Landa in the penultimate turn and holding on for a spectacular win.


Fuglsang trailed home 12 seconds down in third place with former GC leader Poels a further second behind.

The result consequently leaves Wellens in the lead going into the final day of racing. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

TT day!

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A fairly straightforward TT aside from the 5.5km of gravel roads the riders will face. Those kilometres on the dirt road have an average gradient of 1.6% which adds a little extra spice to the day. Not a steep climb, it is certainly one for the rouleurs and typical TT riders in the peloton.


Once over the halfway point it will be a fast second part to the effort with the route being mainly downhill back in to town. One thing the riders might have to consider is the weather conditions.

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We should have similar conditions throughout the day which is good, but being beside the sea the wind can swirl and change around without much notice. The riders will need to save something so they don’t struggle into the headwind on the way back home!


We have a pretty weak TT field here if I’m honest and makes the day wide open.

Chris Froome (a.k.a He Who Must Not Be Named).

On paper he is the class rider here against the clock but given everything over his head at the moment, will he go full gas? He certainly gave it a nudge on the opening mountain stage of the race so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do the same tomorrow. Then again, I equally wouldn’t be surprised if he did nothing of note given his GC chances are out of the window.

Tim Wellens.

Given his sensational form at the moment, the current GC leader has a good chance of a good result against the clock. He’s not known for his time trial capabilities but he isn’t exactly bad in the discipline either, with a good few top 10s to his name. Riding with confidence, he’s certainly one to watch.

Luis Leon Sanchez.


In spectacular form so far this season, he will have been bitterly disappointed to lose so much time today. That result throws his GC title tilt into jeopardy but he has a glimmer of hope with a good performance tomorrow. On his day he can produce very good times against the clock but those have been few and far between as of late; although it is hard to judge as he often doesn’t have to go full gas.

Stef Clement.

The Dutch rider is a very solid TT rider and in a field like this he can be classed as a specialist. The flat course should suit him well and he’ll hope to find similar form to what he had during the national championships last season which he only just lost out to a flying Dumoulin. Jumbo have massively improved in this discipline so I’m intrigued to see if they’ve made any more advances during the winter.

Moreno Moser.

It would be rude not to mention the Italian for what seems like the 7000th preview in a row. As you can probably tell, I’m scraping the barrel for any TT talent that we have here and a new Moser could possibly go well. He was third in the European Championships in 2016 and he’s been good against the clock in the past. Astana will want an early rider to go well to give their two GC guys race-pace info about the course so we might see Moser in full flight. Maybe.


Piss weak TT field should make for an exciting and open day. I’ll go for Stef Clement to take the win!

Stef Clement N Lotto-Jumbo rode a strong tt finishes 4th on the stage


1pt EW Clement @66/1 (would take 33/1)

Thanks as always for reading and apologies for a slightly shorter than normal preview but I am shattered and there’s not much more to say really! The next race I’ll be previewing will be the Abu Dhabi Tour so I’ll see you all then. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.



Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 21 Preview; Monza -> Milano

Today’s Recap

We saw some GC sparklers, not fireworks today, purely because everyone seemed equally on their limit!

Katusha pushed the pace early on which ultimately lead to a Zakarin attack on the final climb and he was joined by Pozzovivo. Unfortunately for them; Pinot, Nibali and Quintana bridged just after the KOM point.

We had a bit of cat and mouse-ing between that group and it looked for a while as if those dropped on the climb were going to get back on. However, thanks to some close motorbikes and some dodgy time gaps anyway, they were able to duke it out in the sprint to the line, holding onto a 15 second advantage from Dumoulin and co.

Pinot asserted his dominance as the fastest sprinter in the group, taking his first Giro win.


Zakarin came home second with Nibali picking up some bonus seconds in third.

It leaves everything finely balanced going into the final TT.

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

The Route

A pan-flat course suited to the powerful riders in the peloton.


The course descends at a very shallow rate from around 9km to go all the way to the finish. It won’t be too noticeable but it should certainly ensure that the speed will be kept high!


Furthermore, it’s not an overly technical route either, with several long straights for the riders to put the power down. It is only once we get close to the centre of Milan that things get a bit more dicey.


As you can see, there are a lot of 90-degree (some sharper) turns within the closing 5km so a rider willing to take some risks and carry speed through the corners can gain an advantage.

Thankfully for the riders, the weather looks to be holding up for most of the day and they should all face similar conditions.


Dumoulin obviously will start the stage as favourite and rightly so. He absolutely decimated the opposition in the first time trial and compared to his GC rivals, this course suits him even better. However, has the past week taken too much out of him? He really struggled yesterday but coped relatively well today, commenting post stage that he had good legs. Riding a good TT after a tough Grand Tour is a completely different beast compared to resting for a few days and pulling out a result. It would be stupid of me to dismiss him, but I don’t think he’ll have it all his own way.


From the GC contenders Zakarin, Pinot and Jungels look the most likely to contend with the Dutchman. The first two riders can pull off a good TT on their day and will be hoping for a much better performance than their first efforts against the clock. Although I’m sure both would prefer a slightly more undulating route. Jungels will definitely like the power course and he is a serious challenger to Dumoulin for the stage. Yet again though, it depends on how much the race has taken out of him but he has looked strong the past few stages after seemingly cracking on stage 18.

Who out of the non-GC riders will be contending?

Kiryienka  – Depends if he tries or not. If he does, he really should be up there but he only properly gets going after 20km so I’m sure he would have loved an extra 10km on top.

Luis Leon Sanchez – The first of the non-GC riders home in the first time trial, the Spaniard has been active this race in the mountains. He looked tired on yesterday’s stage but had a relatively quiet day in the saddle today, saving himself for tomorrow?

Jos Van Emden – After managing to finish in the top 10 on the first TT, the Dutchman should enjoy this flatter course even more. He rolled home today in the gruppetto and I would not be surprised to see him go well tomorrow.

As for some outsiders…

Stef Clement.

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He of Wongshot fame gets another mention. The Jumbo rider is a solid TT rider on his day but has been a bit anonymous in the discipline over the past few years. However, if he manages to find his legs then he can definitely compete as he is one of those riders who excels at this distance.

Tobias Ludvigsson.

I couldn’t go the whole Giro without naming one of my favourite riders, could I?! Working in support of Pinot, Ludvigsson has performed well as a domestique this Giro. He survived a fall a few stages ago and even ended up in the break the day after. With Pinot needing a good bench-mark time to aim at from his team-mates, Ludvigsson is the ideal candidate for that situation.


It more than likely has to be Dumoulin, but that’s no fun, so I’ll go for everyone’s favourite Swede to upset the apple cart and beat his former team-mate.

08-05-2016 Giro D'italia; Tappa 03 Nijmegen - Arnhem; 2016, Giant-alpecin; Ludvigsson, Tobias; Arnhem;


Tweeted out my selections before;

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So avoid those two at all costs!


Thanks again for reading, especially if you’ve stuck with my awful predictions for this Giro! Your continued support means a lot.

I’m not sure what’s next on the blog as I haven’t even spared any thought to the upcoming races yet. Most likely the Dauphine and the Women’s Tour. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.



TDF Stage 9 Preview: Vielha val d’Aran -> Andorre Alcalis

Today’s Recap

Well, where do I start?

The stage started off frantically again and we only got a proper break on the Tourmalet itself. Only Pinot, Majka and TMartin managed to get any kind of gap. However, they were reeled in on the penultimate climb and Team Sky did their thing. On the Peyresourde we got some attacks near the top, with Henao and Quintana probably looking the strongest. Yet, it was Froome who made the winning move just over the summit of the climb. He made a daring descent (although was helped by those stalling behind, Quintana will be kicking himself as he should have covered the move) and held on for the win.


I remember hearing a while ago that Sky had a “secret training camp” during the Winter. I think we can all agree that it was descending (among other things) that their main focus was on. They’ve made a real improvement in that area this year.

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As for the stage itself, the length of time that the break took to form was its own downfall. If it was established after only 30kms then the pace wouldn’t have been as high for the rest of the day. As it took until the Tourmalet to form, only the best riders could get away. It also meant that the time they could build up was limited. The blog picks never really had any chance because of this. Plaza and Clement were with the peloton over the Tourmalet but weren’t there for long.

Onto tomorrow’s stage.

The Route

The final stage in the Pyrenees will see the riders cross the border into Andorra, and another tough climbing route awaits them.


Starting off with a Cat-1 ascent straight out the blocks will not be music to the sprinters ears. Once again, there is no profile of this climb in the road book, but there is a Strava segment for it that you can see here. Going off the strava segment it’s 19.4km long at 6% with a fairly steady gradient. However, the stage profile seems to start further up the climb, and suggests it’s 13.7km at 6.1%. Either way, it’s a long and potentially (most likely) painful start to the day.

Once over the summit they have a long descent followed by another long period of flat/descending before the 2nd Cat-1 of the day: Port del Cantó. Again, there is no profile in the road book, so strava once again becomes useful. View the profile here. Both stage profile and strava seem to agree that it’s around 19km in length and a shade over 5% in average gradient. Not the most difficult but it will sap the legs. The sprinters will hope the peloton is on a go slow and that they can make it over the climb with the bunch. If not, they’ll have difficulties on the following sections.

After they reach the valley from the descent the road constantly rises up the intermediate sprint point. Three climbs are then tackled over the closing 50km.


The first two of these climbs both have tough stretches (over 9%) within them and average out at over 8%. However, the battle tomorrow will more than likely be left until the final climb of the day. Officially 10.1km at 7.2% this a very tough end to the day. There are a couple of sections of “respite” on the way up where the gradient goes below 6%, however these will only offer a small bit of recovery. It is interesting to note that the final km is shallower than a lot of the rest of the climb but it’s still not flat (averaging 5.3%). Will we see gaps made before here?

How will the stage pan out?

After the electric pace the past few days, I hope the peloton takes it easier tomorrow. To put it into perspective, the average speed of today’s stage where there was over 4000m of climbing came in at 37.1km/h. The previous days speed was 42.7km/h. Stage 6 (a sprint stage) was 40.2km/h. We’ll have a very dull 2nd week at this rate.

But with the race starting on a Cat 1 climb I fear we could be in for another fast day. Hopefully the senior riders see sense and call some kind of truce. Although I’m probably being wishful.

The stage tomorrow is a good one on paper for a break to get away. The long descents and flats are great to build up a lead. On the contrary, if someone dangerous gets up the road Sky could in theory control it quite well too with Stannard and Rowe doing the work. It really is 50/50. We could see a situation like Stage 20 of this years Giro where it all guns blazing from the flag drop, but I think it’s too early in the race for that. Remember, the Tour is won in 3 weeks, not 1.

I’ll lean towards my favoured outcome of two races, meaning that a break gets away and manages to stick this time. Sky already have their stage win and are in Yellow so won’t be concerned by the stage getting away. The only team I think who will stop a break tomorrow is Movistar. Mainly because the way Froome and Quintana were climbing today, I don’t think any of the other GC guys will fancy their chances against them up the final climb.

This of course all changes if we do get a GC threat away then Sky will have to chase.

Who are the break contenders?

Pretty much the same type of rider as yesterday’s preview so I’ll keep this fairly short and sweet!

Plaza. It would be sods law that the time I don’t mention him he gets into the break.


Diego Rosa. The Italian had a very easy day today rolling in with the gruppetto almost 40 minutes down on Froome. He’s a very classy bike rider on his day, and won a very impressive breakaway stage at Pais Vasco earlier in the year. Furthermore, he had a good showing at the Dauphiné too, finishing 8th on GC. He’s not done much here, I think that changes tomorrow.

Clement. Made one of the breaks today that was pulled back. I think he’ll give it another go tomorrow.

Tony Gallopin. A disappointing start to the Tour, he’ll now be targeting stage wins. Mountain top finishes aren’t his forte, but he definitely would be a tough one to beat out of the right break.



I’ll not heed the advice and thoughts of others and say that the correct breakaway stays and wins the stage. With a GC battle behind them. The rider who I think can stay out on this type of course is Diego Rosa. Maybe we’ll even see a similar celebration this time round?



Rosa 0.6pt EW @ 125/1 with Bet365

Plaza 0.3pt EW @150/1 with Betfair/PaddyPower

Gallopin 0.2pt EW 150/1 with PaddyPower/Betfair/Bet365

Clement 0.2pt EW 300/1 with Bet365/PP/Betfair


I’m hoping for some exciting racing tomorrow but on two fronts. Let’s just hope one of the guys above makes it into the break! Enjoy the race wherever, you’re watching it from. The whole stage is to be broadcast on TV so that’ll be good! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

TDF Stage 8 Preview: Pau -> Bagnères-de-Luchon

Today’s Recap

Well, I got that wrong. Very wrong.

In fairness though, for a lot of the race it looked like it was to be a GC show-down. However, just over the Cat 4 climb the break started attacking each other, which they needed to do, and a stronger group of 4 formed up ahead. Before Nibali and Co caught the four up the road, Cummings attacked and was not seen again until the finish line. Another perfectly timed attacked from him. A big middle finger to the Olympic selectors.


Behind, we saw some of the GC riders struggle in the heat. The most notable of those was Pinot who lost over 2 and a half minutes on the rest of the GC contenders. Then there was Flamme Rouge Gate, these dangerous finishes eh…Amateur from the ASO it has to be said. Hopefully Yates’ injuries are only superficial.

Onto tomorrow’s stage.

The Route

A tough day in the saddle (184km) awaits the riders with 4 categorised climbs and a sawtooth profile.


We could get another fast start to the day as riders try to get into the breakaway. The opposite is easily foreseeable and the peloton might want a slow start to the day after today’s fast and frenetic stage. The first break might well stick.

With the sprint point being before the climb we could well see some of the sprinters try to get away again. There is a chance for another mass break.

The opening ascent of the day is a tough one, with the first HC categorised climb of the Tour: the Col du Tourmalet.


A long tough climb (19km at 7.4%) this could possibly split the break up. The sprinters and those struggling from injuries will be hoping there is no one of danger up the road and that the peloton takes this at a relatively leisurely pace.

Over the Tourmalet comes a descent before the road kicks up again for the Cat 2 Hourquette d’Ancizan. In this stage it’s apparently so insignificant that there isn’t even a profile of it in the road-book! Supposedly 8.2km at 4.9% going off the stage profile, this is the closest actual climb profile I could find that climbs from Lac de Payolle.


Again once over the climb the riders get a bit of respite on the descent. This time round they actually have a bit of flat to contend with before the penultimate climb up the Col de Val Louron-Azet.


Another tough climb follows. There is a pattern here! 10.7km at 6.8%, it starts off relatively easy but gets grippier during the middle. The break will hope to still have a good advantage here. Depending on the feeling within the GC teams, we might get a push on from them here.

The final ascent of the day is a Tour classic, the Col de Peyresourde.


7.1km at 7.8%, this climb is relentless. Hopefully we get some GC attacks here, but with a long descent to the finish I’m not sure we’ll see many splits, but what do i know?!

The finish in Bagnères itself is relatively technical within the final kilometre. Perfect for a lone rider.Stage-1464953383

How will the stage pan out?

I’ve had this stage circled as a break day since before the Tour started. As far as I can remember (I have no stats to back this up, just going off the top of my head), the stage that involves Bagnerès-de-Luchon more often than not ends up in a break victory. With today’s stage victory coming from a break, it has cast a little doubt in my mind. However, I’m sticking to my guns and saying that a break makes it. Partly because I’m rather stubborn, but also because the following stage has a summit finish in which the GC guys can make more of a difference.

So that begs the question…

Who are the break candidates? 

At least for this stage it’s easier to narrow down because the rider will have to be a good climber to stand a chance. They also have to be strong on the flat to make the break. There are a lot of guys far down on GC so there isn’t much of a concern in that case. Like other previews that I’ve done, I’m going to list some riders who could make it. I’m being greedy and going for 4 this time.

First up is a man I’ve previously mentioned, Ruben Plaza. I admire this guys aggressive tactics in the mountains. He’s not afraid to attack from far out. After seeing Cummings go well today, he’ll want to remind everyone what he can do! The only concern is that he might be on protection duties for Yates. However, I think he could get given the nod and freedom tomorrow.

Second is Stef Clement.

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The IAM rider has been trying and failing to get into the break in the past few stages. He has the climbing ability to win out of a break and by the sounds of it is going very well at the moment.

Steve Morabito is another who could be given some freedom. With Pinot faltering today I think FDJ will try and put someone in the break tomorrow. On paper (aside from Reichenbach), Morabito is their strongest climber. He had a very good opening to the year, can he return to those ways here?

I feel like I have to mention a Dimension Data rider considering the way they’re going at the moment. That man is Daniel Teklehaimanot a.k.a The Tickler.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 6

Former Tour KOM wearer and this years Dauphiné KOM winner, the Tickler has been keeping himself towards the bottom of the GC. Saving energy for a breakaway possibly. Can he continue DD’s incredible start to this race?

For other break candidates look to the likes of De Gendt, Majka and Voeckler and those who want to feature in the King of the Mountains competition.


So narrowing down those 4 breakaway contenders above, I’m coming to the same answer as an earlier preview. Orica will go one better tomorrow and Plaza will win the stage. He is a class act in a mountain break. Hopefully if he gets away, then he can manage to build up some KOM points as a bonus too.



There aren’t many bookmakers who have odds up for tomorrow so hunt around later on.

0.6pt EW Plaza @66/1 with PP (He’s available at 100s with Coral)

0.25pt EW Clement @200/1 with Bet365

0.25pt EW Morabito @200/1 with Bet365

0.15pt EW Teklehaimanot @300/1 with Bet365

I’m hoping the prediction luck will turn soon. Either way, we should be in for a gruelling stage tomorrow. Enjoy it wherever you’re watching it from. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.