Critérium du Dauphiné 2018 Stage 6 Preview: Frontenex › La Rosière Espace San Bernardo

Just a heads up, this preview will be shorter than normal as I have to write for both tomorrow and Sunday’s stage this evening due to me being away this weekend. It also means that in tomorrow’s preview I’ll just be assuming a few things and there will be no “today’s recap”.

Today’s Recap

A strong break went but they were never given too much leeway from Sky and after Bora took the bait, things were close enough once onto the final climb to ensure that a GC rider was going to win the day.

Dan Martin took advantage of a lull in the pace once things regrouped after a Soler attack, with the UAE rider putting in a stinging dig that no one could, or wanted to, match. Geoghegan Hart returned to the head of what was left of the peloton and set tempo for Thomas, before swinging off at roughly 1km to go. The Welshman attacked and only Bardet could follow, but he could only manage to do so for a few hundred metres before swinging off. It left Thomas to chase down Martin on his own and he was slowly reeling him in all the way until the line but it was too late.

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Martin held on for the win with Thomas finishing 4 seconds behind and Yates sprinted out of the pack to round out the podium in third, a further 10 seconds back.

The result means that Thomas moves into Yellow and increases his lead over everyone bar Martin, with nearest challenger Caruso sitting 1’09 down going into the weekend.

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

The Route

A tad over 4000m of climbing in only 110km, this could be interesting. Furthermore, this will pretty much be a carbon copy of stage 11 on this year’s Tour.

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The climbs are long, but none of them are overly steep, with the toughest ascent of the day being the first. You can just read the percentages on the profile, no time for semantics today!

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As for the final climb it starts off easy and finishes easy, it is just the middle third which has quite a high average gradient. Anyone looking to put their rivals into difficulty will need to do so here.

How will the stage pan out?

Pffffft, no idea!

On paper at least, you would imagine that it should be a GC day given the amount of climbing involved but after Thomas’ dominant performance today, some might not be so keen on having their teams chase all day.

Therefore, we’ll need to see some brave and most likely doomed early attacks from the GC contenders, or Sky will just control things all day. The long, steady climbs are perfect for them. It’s then a question of them making it a GC day or not? They don’t need to as they can afford to ride a defensive race, but when has that ever stopped them before?

Or of course, we could see a hail mary, guns-blazing stage where the peloton is down to 20 guys after the first climb.

I do actually think the break has a decent chance tomorrow because of how strong Thomas and Sky looked today. Even if things get crazy on the opening climb the yellow jersey shouldn’t be exposed and I would expect him to have at least 3 team-mates with him when everyone else is down to one or two. Teams will need to be inventive to beat Sky so sending a man up the road can never hurt as they can always act as a bridge for a GC attack late on. Of course, Sky can then play the bluff game and let the gap extend out too far for the man up the road to be made redundant.

To sum up: I don’t know.

As it is more fun to play the breakaway lottery than just say Thomas will win, I’ll do that…

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Tony Gallopin.

See yesterday’s preview. He was with the main group of GC favourites for a while up the final climb, highlighting he has good form. Bardet couldn’t match Thomas today and it will be a tough ask for him to win the title. Ag2R potentially will change their approach and be aggressive by getting Gallopin up the road.

Guillaume Martin.

Birthday boy, the Wanty rider has impressed me so far and he is definitely one of my favourite Pro-Conti level climbers. He sits a rather awkward 4:15 down on GC so it might cause Sky into chasing but then again, they would fancy reducing the gap on the final climb and he wouldn’t be much of a threat the following day after being in the break all day.

Michael Valgren.

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Yep, you read that right. He’s been super impressive so far this race, staying with Bilbao deep into the climbs. With his team-leader falling away a bit today, the Dane might be given the opportunity to chase his own result tomorrow. He’s a brute of a rider, but when he burst onto the scene he was considered a potential GC rider in the future. Can he roll back the clock? He finished 14th on the similarly short stage in Paris Nice this year.

Dylan Teuns.

The BMC rider just disappeared from the head of the standings on stage 2, where he finished 5 minutes down, and followed that up by coming home 13 minutes behind on stage 4. I thought he could have potentially been ill but a 33rd place today after helping Caruso would suggest that he is either on the mend, or was deliberately losing time. He has the ability to win this tomorrow from a breakaway group.

Short Stages – Overkill?

Just a quick few thoughts on short stages in general.

I can understand where organisers are coming from in trying to put in a short stage here or there to spice things up and throw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons, but to have three in a row here is just odd and overkill in my opinion. The whole point of having a short stage is so to entice riders into going full gas one day and completely shake up the order of a race. Having more than one in a row means that a rider might be concerned the following stage could be that day so they won’t want to waste their reserves on the wrong day and completely blow up when the action happens. It could, rather ironically, lead to more boring racing if everyone expects a GC raid kind of day and instead just rides defensively.

One of the reasons cycling is so interesting to follow in my opinion is the wide variety of stage you can get, but these short days are all “samey”. I’m a fan of them occasionally, but just not this much!

Prediction

The birthday boy to win. Allez Guillaume! (for the second time this race)

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Betting

1pt GMartin @ 25/1

0.5pt Gallopin @ 125/1

0.5pt Valgren @ 100/1

0.5pt Teuns @ 300/1

Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? How will the stage pan out? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2018 Stage 5 Preview: Grenoble › Valmorel

Today’s Recap

A crazy start to the stage saw no break go for over 50km before the elastic eventually snapped. Cataldo forged on alone and bravely held off the bunch, only to be cruelly caught within the final kilometre. It was actually blog pick Guillaume Martin who kicked off the action in the GC group and he managed to get a bit of a gap over what remained over the peloton. However, Latour came to the front and pulled like crazy before the other Martin (Dan) set off in pursuit. It was a stinging attack that only a handful could follow but he almost rode with some inexperience as he just kept riding on the front which set things up perfectly in the sprint to the line for eventual stage winner Alaphilippe.

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Dan Martin finished in second with Thomas rounding out the day’s podium, with Bardet completing the quartet that finished together.

Interestingly, Kwiatkowski was dropped a little on the run in so it is Moscon who takes over yellow jersey duties, with the Pole and Thomas just 6 seconds back. Sky still very much in the driving seat for this race then. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

It is the easiest of the 4 days in the mountains when looking at the climbing metres, as there are only 2600m of ascent throughout the 130km stage.

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The day starts off with the Cat-2 climb of Côte de Naysord which averages 8.5% for 3.7km. It’s then followed by a false-flat plateau before the Cols des Mouilles which is another short but sharp climb, averaging 7.2% for 3.8km. They’ll then face my favourite oxymoron a rolling plateau, before the road eventually heads downwards after roughly 27km. Given the testing start, I’m sure plenty of riders will be on the rollers!

It is then pretty much flat all day until the final climb of Valmorel.

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A very steady climb that should suit those that can get into a rhythm, the length and gradients do favour a more traditional mountain goat to go well too though. It should be an interesting battle between the two different types of GC riders we have here.

How will the stage pan out?

With a frantic day today and knowing what is to come, I’m sure some in the bunch will want an easier afternoon out tomorrow. Will they get that?

Well, it really depends on the approach of two teams: Sky and AG2R.

Personally I think Sky will want to keep their powder dry for the weekend as their domestiques will need to defend a lot on the tough stages we have so any extra energy saved will be very useful. But then again, once through the first 30km, tomorrow is easy up until the final climb so it will only need a couple of riders making tempo to keep things in check. AG2R showed today that they are willing to ride for Bardet and tomorrow’s finish climb on paper suits him more than what we had today. The same question can be asked of them though, will they want to save some energy for some crazy racing at the weekend?

There is then of course the chance that it takes 50km for the break to form again at which point we’ll only have 80km left and not long for the morning move to get an advantage. That will then possibly entice teams into pulling to bring them back, who originally might not have if the break went within the first 30km.

It’s another stage that is a coin toss for me in terms of if a break makes it or not. I could easily argue for either case, which I kind of have done above. Got myself in a right tizz here deciding what will happen!

Hmm, I’ll go with the break sticking, but it really needs to form early-ish and for no-one to be within 5/6 minutes on GC so that Sky take their foot off the gas, which unfortunately means no Guillaume Martin, shame. Time to play that game again…

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Tony Gallopin.

If AG2R don’t want to help chase all day then the best thing for them to do is get a rider into the morning move and sit back in the peloton while the others do the work. Gallopin is far enough down not to be a real GC threat but he is a good enough climber and rouleur to make it stick from the break. He had a very strong start to the year but he has since struggled to be at his best and his performance in Paris Nice was disappointing due to an illness he picked up. With his sights set on the Tour, he will want to show well here.

Peter Kennaugh.

He missed the opening part of the season due to a “physical and psychological issue” after his jaunt in Australia but he returned to racing in Romandie. Since then, he has shown no real sign of form but has stated that his legs are returning to what they used to be like. If he wants to make the Bora Tour squad then he needs to deliver a big performance at this race and tomorrow looks the stage best suited to him. Who can forget his win from the break up Alpe d’Huez in this race last year?

Jelle Vanendert.

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The Lotto Soudal rider was fourth on that day but this season seems to be going much better for him, he has been in a rich vein of form in the past couple of months. His lowest finishing position in the Ardennes was 11th place, which included a podium finish in Fleche. After taking a month off racing, he returned at the recent Tour of Belgium and won the queen stage there. The climb at the end of tomorrow’s stage might be too long for him normally but it all depends on who he is up against, I expect Lotto Soudal to be attacking anyway.

Lucas Hamilton.

The neo-pro has impressed me a lot so far in his outings this year with a good showing in Coppi e Bartali his best result. He finished 2nd at the Baby Giro last year and followed it up with a 4th place at the Tour de l’Avenir: he is talented, that’s for sure. A pure climber it would seem, if he manages to infiltrate a break made up mostly of rouleurs then he has a good shot of taking a stunning win.

GC Contenders

If we don’t see a break make it then it is hard to see past a Bardet v Thomas battle for the stage. Both have looked strong and I could make arguments for both on this terrain but I would side with Thomas in his current shape. We could possibly see Alaphilippe competing for the win given that it is only one big climb but I think he’ll just fall short. I’m preparing to eat my words here tomorrow afternoon.

Prediction

AG2R to win the day, but it will be Gallopin from the break who will be victorious.

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Betting

Unsure as to how tomorrow will go so just making a play on the breakers. Will look in-play for GC riders if it is going to be the stage honours for them.

0.6pt WIN Gallopin @ 125/1

0.3pt WIN Vanendert @ 300/1

0.2pt WIN Hamilton @ 500/1

0.3pt WIN Kennaugh @ 300/1

 

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2018 Stage 2 Preview: Montbrison › Belleville en Beaujolais

Today’s Recap

The morning break of three never had a chance and it was actually Vital Concept who kept them in check before Quick Step came to help out later on. The gap tumbled and the break was caught once we were onto the circuit. On the final ascent Teuns launched a probing attack but was reeled in, however, Alaphilippe then launched a strong counter that was followed by race-leader Kwiatkowski. That move was then neutralised and a greatly reduced bunch plummeted down towards the final kilometre. There were a few more probing attacks but none of them got much leeway and things were set up for a sprint.

Alaphilippe opened it up early but he was no match for Impey who surged passed the Quick Step rider and took a very dominant win. It looked easy for him in the end!

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Ackermann rounded out the podium which was a very impressive result from him, much better than team-mate McCarthy. As for blog pick Kwiatkowski, it looked as if he just ran out of steam and didn’t have the kick to match the others at the finish, possibly paying for his earlier efforts. Interestingly, we didn’t see anything of Impey until the final few hundred metres, he hid away perfectly, conserving energy and going all in for the sprint. Risky but ultimately smart riding. Can he double up tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

Another rolling day that is littered with a few climbs in the second half of the stage.

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With 2300m of climbing it is similar to today’s stage in that regard but the finish is much easier. The climbs aren’t overly difficult but the majority of them are longer than what they faced today. You can see their lengths and gradients on the profile above.

Arguably the toughest ascent of the day is the Col du Fût d’Avenas which so happens to be the last categorised climb.

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It will be a fairly steady effort for the riders though and the Cat-3 ranking might be a bit generous – it’s no Spanish or Italian Cat-3, that’s for sure!

With the peak coming at just under 30km to go, the riders will face a long descent that is interspersed with a few kickers and plateaus. They don’t really stop descending until the final 4km of the day.

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A fairly simple run in but a double roundabout just under the flamme rouge will line things out and it is important to not be too far back here.

How will the stage pan out?

If today was one for the puncheurs, then tomorrow does look more like a traditional sprint, with the flat run to the line. However, given that the riders pretty much climb/descend for 70km before a drawn out descent to the line, then we could see some of the sprinters put into difficulty. It all depends on who sets the pace on the ascents.

There is more of a chance that the break makes it compared to today’s stage in my opinion. This afternoon we saw Sky happy to take a back seat and I think they will adopt a similar approach tomorrow, letting other teams chase it down for a stage win. If no one takes full control then Sky might just ride tempo and not let things get silly, knowing that they will more than likely take the time back on whoever is up the road later on in the week.

I think we’ll once again see Vital Concept take to the front to try to control things but they will need better luck (Reza’s crash today) and more numbers with COquard in the finale to set him up well. Likewise, we saw Quick Step help to control things today and they will probably chase for either Jakobsen, riding fairly slowly, or they will try and make things difficult to set up Alaphilippe. It will be interesting to see if Mitchelton and Bora now help with pace setting as Impey was imperious today and has a good chance of going into yellow and of course Ackermann was a bit of a surprise package in third, with tomorrow seemingly suiting him more.

Contenders and Pretenders

I’ve pretty much just listed the majority of them above!

Impey – Clearly in great shape just now, we might see Mitchelton drill it in an attempt to reduce the bunch down to a similar size to what we had today. Has a good chance of doubling up.

Coquard – Disappointing today after his team did a lot of the hard work. He should be able to cope with the climbs but will need someone to help lead him out in the finish, I don’t trust his wheel surfing abilities.

Alaphillipe – Needs it tough but has a chance if that’s the case. Can’t afford to waste energy with pointless attacks.

Jakobsen – Needs it to be an ok tempo, otherwise he will be dropped.

Bauhaus – Will be dropped.

Teunissen – My dark horse as I expect him to be sprinting instead of the aforementioned Bauhaus. He was very impressive at the start of the year and seems to be finally delivering on some of the potential he showed early in his career.

Kwiatkowski – See Alaphillipe.

Boasson Hagen – Form seems a bit iffy but he is not a million miles off. Normally he should contend.

Keukeleire – In great form at the moment, he will need it to be selective but he will fancy his chances in a flat sprint against the guys here.

Break Candidate(s)

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A nice and more than likely deliberate 6’46 time loss for De Gendt today. Expect to see him out there tomorrow, along with the likes of Teklehaimanot and Brandle. 

Prediction

Things will most likely come back for a reduced sprint and it will be hard to see past Impey and Ackermann after today’s showing. Yet, I’ll go for a bit of a surprise result with Teunissen winning the gallop.

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He seems to be coming into form at the moment with a good result in the prologue and a commendable 9th place today. Watching back the sprint from this afternoon he kicked and looked to be coming up the inside but was blocked off and had to sit back in the saddle before stamping on the pedals again. As he crossed the line he shook his head, I think he knows a better result was possible with good positioning. If he can follow the right wheel, I think he can surprise from an 80 rider group…

Betting

1pt EW Teunissen @ 40/1

 

I would have backed TDG if he was 20+ but anything less than that is too short.

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 Stage 8 Preview; Albertville -> Plateau de Solaison

Today’s Recap

So as you may have gathered, I didn’t manage to get a preview completed yesterday in between the 2 hours of me getting up and going to work , so yeah, apologies etc!

It turned out to be a day for the breakaway, like I thought it might, and in the end Kennaugh took a strong win ahead of former team-mate Swift.

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Herrada held onto an attacking Bardet and outsprinted the Frenchman to nab third place on the day.

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Maybe I should blog less often?!

Behind, Porte looked imperious with only Fuglsang able to hold onto the wheel of the Australia, with Froome coming off worst out of the GC contenders. It means that Porte has a minute buffer over the Brit going into the final stage tomorrow and you would expect that to be enough to hold on for title.

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for them.

The Route

A short and intense day to end the race!

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The road rises from the gun with a tricky, uncategorised climb before flattening out and rising almost all the way until the first summit of the day. I expect a lot of riders to be on rollers!

The opening three climbs aren’t too difficult in terms of average gradient but with them coming in quick succession we might see a few riders who are on a bad day struggle.

With 35km to go the riders will crest the penultimate climb and face a 15km descent before hitting the valley roads that see them travel to the foot slopes of the Plateau de Solaison.  The “easy” gradients on the earlier climbs are certainly made up for here!

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11.3km at 9.2% it’s another brute of a climb for the riders to deal with! Thankfully for some, the gradient does ease a little by the top down to a measly 7% roughly…

Will we see a solo winner again?

How will the stage pan out?

It’s a really tough stage to call as we could see some early GC fireworks but there is also the possibility the break makes it all the way.

With Porte having such a big lead and looking so strong, I’m not sure how willing other riders will be to spend a lot of energy early on to animate the race only for the Australian to be able to follow everything easily. Furthermore, BMC have looked strong so far and have been able to hold everything together reasonably well and I would expect a similar performance from them tomorrow.

It also all depends on where the breakaway goes and who’s represented. I think we’ll see it get up the road on the first categorised climb so it should be filled with strong climbers who are capable of winning the stage. If no GC rider has sneaked their way in and enough teams are represented then I think it can go all the way.

So time for everyone’s favourite game again…

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Candidates

A few darts to be thrown here…

Jack Haig.

The young Austrailian has been very consistent so far this Dauphiné and finds himself sitting 26th on GC, almost 10 minutes down on his compatriot. With Yates and Chaves underperforming, Orica will no doubt be looking towards the breakaway for success. Could Haig take a memorable win?

Serge Pauwels.

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The winner of the Tour de Yorkshire this year, the Belgian always seems to find himself in a breakaway at some point during a week-long stage race. He’s not been in one so far, but that could well change tomorrow! Having been so close to a win at the Tour last year (on the farcical Alpe d’Huez stage) coming up against a flying De Gendt, he has proven that he can climb exceptionally well. In the right move he has every chance.

Michal Kwiatkowski.

After his early season return to form, the Pole but in a great shift for Froome today, pacing the GC group. Is he eyeing up a spot in their Tour mountain train?! With Froome suffering, I think we could see Kwiatkowski “set-free” like Kennaugh was and to chase his own personal glory. Clearly going well, I have him as my favourite for the stage. He just has to make the break first…

Richard Carapaz.

I like to throw an obscure name into these every so often, but the Ecuadorian is a rider you will be hearing a lot about over the next few years. Extremely talented, he picked up a second place behind Yates (Adam) and ahead of Uran at the GP Industria earlier in the year. Since then, he has gone on to pick up two top-10s on GC at 2.1 races. Not bad for a first season in Europe and in the pro peloton! I’m not sure how he’ll fare over the longer climbs but I am keen to watch on with interest!

Prediction

As I said above, if Kwiatkowski makes the move, then I can’t see many riders beating him. Sky to go back to back!

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Betting

Tweeted this out before…

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I think they’re still both value at 66/1 and 80/1 respectively so would still recommend it.

 

Thanks as always for reading and as usual any feedback is greatly appreciated! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it be another GC showdown or will the break have its day again?

I’ve decided I won’t be doing daily previews for Tour de Suisse but I’ll still be tweeting out some stage picks so give me a follow if you don’t already. There are others who will be doing daily previews so check out @insidethepeloton96 and @cyclingmole for those!

I shall be back for the British national champs (men and women) and if I get bored, then maybe a .1 or .HC race in-between somewhere. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 Stage 4 Preview; La Tour-du-Pin -> Bourgion-Jalieu

Today’s Recap

The peloton here are about as reliable as that from the 2015 Giro!

They left the chase for the break too late and the early morning move stayed away to take the win for the second stage out of three.

It was young Koen Bouwman who sprinted to the win, with Siskevicius and Backaert rounding out the podium. Not a bad race to take your first professional victory in!

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Behind Démare “won” the bunch sprint for 7th but I’m sure he’ll be bitterly disappointed knowing he could have and probably should have, taken another win.

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

The Route

We’ll see the first proper GC shake up with a relatively long ITT.

The official profile isn’t overly helpful, so instead I’ve made my own. As is TT tradition! However, I’ve used Cronoescalada this time instead of Strava.

Dauphine Stage 4 (ITT)

You can view the interactive profile I made here.

As you can see, it’s not the toughest TT course ever but does include a few tricky climbs over its 23.5km.

The riders will actually lose more altitude than they gain over the route; 288m gain compared to a 378m loss.

The climbing can’t be discounted but it only makes up just over a fifth of the stage, so to me it seems that this stage is much more suited to the specialist time trial riders. The real powerful riders of the peloton who will be able to churn a big gear on the downhill sections.

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Aside from when leaving the start town and entering the finish town the course is very straightforward, with very few turns where the riders will have to apply the breaks.

Weather Watch

As is often is the case in TTs, the weather can play a massive part in the outcome of the stage.

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Source: Wunderground

Thankfully the riders should all face the same, fairly benign conditions. Should mean an even contest throughout the day!

Contenders

Tony Martin – The current World Champion should be suited to this course perfectly. He’s strong enough to be able to flatten the few kilometres of hills we have but also able to churn out a massive amount of power on the flat/downhill sections. His form is a bit unknown, but he really should be the guy to beat.

Chris Froome – On paper this TT isn’t ideal for Froome, I’m sure he’d prefer the hills ever so slightly longer. Nonetheless, he can produce a very good flat TT when needed! It will be interesting to see where his form is less than a month out from the Tour. I mean, it’s very unlikely that he’ll be as low as his Romandie level but you never know!

Richie Porte – The former Aussie TT champ is also not averse to putting in a good “flat” time trial. Arguably one of the riders of the season so far, he’ll sprint up those climbs. Can he hold it together on the downhill? Is he willing to take many risks with the Tour not so far away?

2016 Tour de France, stage 13: Porte

Those three are the top of the pile but there are certainly a few others who can challenge.

Michal Kwiatkowski is no stranger to a good TT. He was strong in the discipline before moving to Sky but this season he seems to have re-found that good form. A very powerful rider and great bike handler, he has a great chance at the podium.

Edvald Boasson Hagen would probably prefer a shorter course but given his current for, he can’t be ruled out either.

Alejandro Valverde has gone well this season so far in TTs but they tend to involve more climbing than this one. Nonetheless, with the year he is having, you can’t write him off too early!

For a proper outsider…

Damien Howson.

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The former U23 TT World Champion turned super-domestique certainly has the background and pedigree for this type of event. He rolled home today, possibly saving himself for days to come. If he gets the nod to go full gas, he could surprise!

Prediction

I’m going to go for none of the big 3, instead, I’ll go for one of their team-mates: Kwiatkowski.

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The Sky rider has regained his mojo this season and is now riding with a lot of confidence again which will be a huge lift to his performance. Returning from training camp with Froome, he has been attentive at the front of every stage so far which makes me think he’s going well. It would be of benefit for Sky to have two riders high on GC and I’m sure Kwiatkowski would happily oblige!

Betting

1.3pt EW Kwiatkowski @ 18/1

0.2pt EW Howson @ 300/1 

(Both 365, 1/5 odds)

 

Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow? If you’ve not already, check out my preview for the first stage of the women’s tour! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Le Chambon-sur-Lignon -> Tullins

*Short preview as I’m short of time – too busy making Women’s Tour profiles. Normal service shall resume tomorrow!*

Today’s Recap

We did end up with a big bunch sprint and it was Arnaud Démare who powered his way to stage victory, winning by a comfortable margin in the end!

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Kristoff and Bouhanni rounded out the podium. A good result for the Frenchman considering the crash he suffered in Yorkshire not so long ago.

As for the blog pick of Boasson Hagen, he was up fighting in the top 10 riders in the closing kilometres but unfortunately went backwards/lost position at the wrong time. He eventually recovered to finish 6th and I’m sure he’ll give it another go tomorrow!

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

The Route

Another rolling day but the easiest stage so far.

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We have several small climbs out on course but the last one (Côte de Roybon) comes too far from the finish line to be of any detriment to the sprinters.

The run in to the line is fairly simple as well, much to the delight of the sprint trains.

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There are a couple of roundabouts to traverse, and the one taken at just after 1km to go could cause some issues but aside from that there are no other difficulties. The road does rise ever so slightly in the last kilometre but it’s only at 0.8% so it should make no real difference!

Weather Watch

On a relatively easy day, the one thing that could derail the sprinters chances is the weather.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 19.22.51
Source: Wunderground

It looks as if we will get rain at some point during the stage but it should have disappeared from the finishing town (where the above forecast is from) by the time we reach there.

However, slick roads could lead to a more nervous peloton!

Nonetheless, it should end in a sprint.

Contenders

We’ll have all the usual suspects competing for victory.

Can Démare double up? He certainly looked very strong today and his two-man lead-out timed their move to the front perfectly. It is a move we’ve seen them do quite a bit recently: his win over Bouhanni in GP de Denain was very similar. Having his best season so far, I would not be surprised to see him on the top spot of the podium again.

Kristoff did well to get up for second but that was mainly thanks to his great lead-out. He never seemed to have the kick to match Demare when the Frenchman launched his sprint. In my opinion, he still doesn’t look back to top form and if he’s out of position I can’t see him coming around anyone. Nonetheless, he is a great sprinter so can’t be discounted!

Bouhanni looked fairly strong today but I think he benefited greatly from following Demare up the inside line, using his compatriots slipstream. I’m still not convinced his form is fully there yet but you can never discount Bou-Bou.

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Colbrelli and his Bahrain team looked strong in the final 5km but they seemed to run out of steam at roughly 1km to go. The Italian managed to finish strongly but I think he would need a tougher finish than the one we have tomorrow.

Bauhaus impressed me today, as did his Sunweb lead-out train. Like Bahrain, they seemed to come to the party early, but were one of the teams with the most numbers in the closing kilometres. If they can get the timing right tomorrow, I think the young German can spring a surprise, he was finishing fast today!

Ackermann, Swift, Boasson Hagen, Coquard and Richeze should all be in or around the top 10 again.

Prediction

It will be tough to beat Démare as he seems to be in great shape at the moment. Nonetheless, I still think he can be beaten and I’m looking towards a team buoyed by confidence at the moment to do just that.

Bauhaus appears to have the speed to match the best and if his Sunweb team can lead into and through the final roundabout with a few guys ahead of him, I think he is able to challenge for the win. Using those Giro legs to his advantage!

Rad-Giro-d-Italia-Raus-aus-dem-Schatten-Phil-Bauhaus-punktet-in-beeindruckender-Weise1_image_630_420f_wn

Betting

1pt EW Bauhaus @ 12/1 (with Bet365)

Awful price for everyone, but at least it gives an interest

 

Thanks as always for reading and as usual any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Apologies again for the shorter preview, but there’s not really much extra to say anyway! I’ll have two previews out tomorrow; Dauphine Stage 4 and my OVO Women’s Tour Stage 1/GC Preview.

Speaking of which, join my Velogames.com league for the Tour, use the code “05185053” to gain entry. No prizes on offer, just pride!

Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 Stage 2 Preview; Saint-Chamond -> Arlanc

Today’s Recap

Well, out of all the possibilities I think the morning break staying away was at the bottom of my list!

However, De Gendt did what he does best, powering away from breakaway companion Domont on the final climb, and managing to hold on to win the day by a comfortable margin.

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In the fight for third, Ulissi won a three up sprint against Latour and Buchmann, after the trio had escaped just before the summit of the final climb.

Colbrelli won the “bunch” sprint for 6th, with a whole host of GC riders finishing inside the top 20.

An annoying stage in some respects as my “reading” of it was fairly spot on, with a group of around 50 riders coming to the finish together. Slightly larger than I had thought, but that may have been different if the break had been caught before the final climb. Oh well, moving on!

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

The Route

Another up and down kind of day for the riders.

Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 17.25.47

Starting on a Cat-3 climb should stretch the legs of the riders. The road even continues to rise once they’re over the summit, which should in theory means that the morning breakaway is a strong one!

Over the next 50kms the action will lull before we hit a triple-threat of categorised climbs rolled almost into one.

First up is the Col de Verrières-en-Forez (9km at 4.8%), then the Col de Baracuchet (6.2km at 4.9%). Taking it as a whole (from Montbrison to Baracuchet) then the climb is 23km at 3.8%, however that figure should be taken lightly as it does include over a kilometre or so of flat before the road actually starts rising, it’s probably closer to just over a 4% average for the whole climb!

Once past the summit, the riders will face a plateau before tackling the Cat-4 Col des Supeyres (2.9km at 5.6%). It shouldn’t really cause any issues but it all depends on how aggressive the racing is.

We then have a long descent and some flat roads to contend with before the riders head through the finish line for the first time.

As you can see on the profile, there is an uncategorised rise just after that first passage which has no figures attached to it. So once again I’ve made a Strava profile of the closing loop to hopefully clear some things up/gain some more information about the course! You can view it here.

Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 17.52.11

Based off of the altimetry data from Strava, the climb appears to average 3% for 7.3km. It should definitely be a Cat-4 climb at least!

The road then “rolls” for the following 15kms as they negotiate a twisting/winding part of the stage, including some tight hairpin turns and kilometre long sections at +6%.

The descent itself is fairly technical but the peloton should be able to cope with it! Once we reach the bottom of the descent, there is roughly 4kms of flat/false flat before the 400m rise at 4% to the finish line.

How will the stage pan out?

It all depends on how aggressively the middle section of the stage is raced. A lot of the sprinters could be dropped here if a few of the teams with stronger riders fancy their chances.

For example Bahrain (Colbrelli) and Dimension Data (EBH) might push the pace on to drop some of the pure sprinters, many of whom unhitched early today and rolled home 16 minutes behind.

If something similar happens tomorrow, then it is hard to look past the two riders listed above.

However, it will take a lot of work and commitment early on from those teams to drop the sprinters and I can’t see that happening. Instead, we might see them turn the pace on over the uncategorised 7km climb near the finish.

The 400m rise to the line is interesting as well because it is borderline whether the sprinters will be able to make it up near the head of the race. The first 200m will be taken very quickly due to the run-in speed that they have, but things will slow down after that.

I think a few of the “big men” might go pop but there are certainly some that can compete.

Contenders

Colbrelli seems to be unaffected after his break from racing, sprinting home to 6th place today and winning the bunch kick. He clearly seems to have good legs already and he will relish tomorrow’s finish. He has to start as the favourite!

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Boasson Hagen was denied the opportunity to sprint today after an untimely mechanical in the final few kilometres. Never looking in trouble today, he’s is obviously carrying the good form that he showed in the Tour des Fjords and is a dangerman tomorrow.

Coquard in theory should also be another sprinter who will enjoy this type of finish. The Frenchman is still without a World Tour win on his palmares and tomorrow presents a great opportunity to change that. His form doesn’t seem to be great though after finishing so far back today and struggling in the Baloise Belgium Tour towards the end of May.

Dumoulin, a.k.a The Pocket Rocket, will be hoping to go well tomorrow. The veteran French rider has a great uphill kick and out of the sprinters (aside from EBH and Colbrelli) he was the one who finished highest today. He could spring a surprise!

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I’m not too sure about the likes of Demare, Bouhanni, Kristoff etc after their poor showings today. They all could well feature if the pace is easier on the climbs but I wouldn’t trust them!

An outsider that I am interested in is Valgren.

The Danish rider performed well today, sprinting to 10th place. Astana don’t have a proper sprinter as such and on a finish that suit the Ardennes specialist, he might be given the nod to go for it. If we get a selective day, he is one to watch out for!

Prediction

He will have been left disappointed today after his team did a lot of work, but Boasson Hagen will repay them tomorrow by taking a great win!

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Betting

1.5pt WIN Boasson Hagen @ 9/1

0.5pt EW Dumoulin @ 50/1

0.25pt EW Valgren @ 125/1 

(all with Bet365)

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see an early selection in the race, or will it all come down to a mass bunch gallop? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 Stage 1 Preview; Saint-Étienne -> Saint-Étienne

GC Overview

No stand-alone GC preview from me but it looks set to be a showdown between Porte and Froome. The former won their battle in Romandie, looking imperious. However, the Dauphinè is Froome (and Sky’s) race. They’ve taken the title in 5 out of the last 6 editions and I’m sure the Brit will be here to put down a marker before the Tour.

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The TT should suit both of those guys and with the amount of climbing on offer, then they both should end up on the podium.

However, there is the potential that they could be caught out on the tough stages at the end of the race, particularly the explosive 115km Stage 8 test. We saw that in 2014 when Talansky went on a raid to win the overall. The Cannondale rider looked good in California, is a repeat performance on the cards?

Of course, we have several other contenders such as Valverde, Contador, Bardet, YatesMartin and Chaves (if he’s recovered from his injury) who might spring a surprise and catch the big-two napping on that last day.

Nonetheless, I’ll be boring/safe (delete as appropriate), this is Froome’s Duaphiné to lose. The parcours suits him very well and he seems to go better on the longer climbs in comparison to his former team-mate.

He needs a commanding performance, otherwise the Australian will go into the Tour buoyant and as a very, very serious title contender, if not the favourite!

Right, now let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the opening day.

The Route

A tough, tricky and very interesting route to start the race off.

Duaphinest1

Lots of small climbs throughout the day but particularly in the circuit on the outskirts of Saint-Étienne which will no doubt shape the race.

I don’t envisage any of the early climbs being attacked aggressively enough for the sprinters to lose contact, so I’ll just skip them! However, they will no doubt stretch the legs of the riders for what is to come.

Instead, I’ll focus on the final 44km and the “interesting” finale.

According to the roadbook, the Côte de Rochetaillée is 3.4km at 5.4%. However, that doesn’t really tell the whole story, so out of interest I made a Strava profile of the final circuit that you can view here.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 07.08.58

They make the climb to be 3.8km at 5.8%. Either way, it’s not what I would call short and not what I would call extremely easy!

Moreover, the little lump/prelude of a climb is roughly 2.5km at 3.5%. It means for the final 44kms the peloton will be climbing for approximately 18km of them, totalling 1350m of elevation gain (~450 per lap according to Strava).

dauphinest14km

The majority of the descent towards the line is fairly straightforward and the riders will be thankful to get a few looks at it. However, there is a pair of tight 90-degree right-hand turns just after the Flamme Rouge which could cause some issues.

Positioning will be very important.

The road even rises ever so slightly to the line, but it’s minimal!

How will the stage pan out?

This is a really exciting stage on paper because it is so tough to call.

Will the sprinters make it? Will the punchier riders fight it out? Will we see a late attack stick? Or none of the above?

I’ll stick my neck on the line and suggest that it will actually be a relatively selective bunch that comes to the line, maybe 30-40 riders. A few of the GC teams with fast riders who aren’t as strong in a TT might want to gain a few bonus seconds tomorrow!

My reasoning for this is that tomorrow’s stage reminds me an awful lot of the Barcelona circuit (Stage 7) we had at the Volta Catalunya earlier in the year. On that day they admittedly did many more laps (8 compared to 3), but the climb was actually easier (only 2.2km at 5.1%).

That stage ended with a front group of only 16 riders, but I imagine tomorrow might be just over double in size.

Therefore, that means I’m ruling out the majority of the sprinters, with possibly only Boasson Hagen and Colbrelli making it. Even then though I’m not too sure!

Contenders

Valverde is obviously the first name to spring to mind for a finish like this. He won the stage in Catalunya and has been his usual imperious self this season! Having not raced for a while his form is a bit unknown, but the Spaniard always turns up at the big races. Taking a few bonus seconds here could set him in good stead for an assault on the GC title.

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Kwiatkowski could be the Spaniards biggest challenger. Another rider who has not raced for a while, the former World Champion seems to have returned to his glory days this season having already won Strade Bianche and Milan San Remo. In Pais Vasco he was competing in the flatter reduced sprints and he certainly packs the speed to go well tomorrow.

Ulissi is a rider who on paper would relish this type of finish. Yet, with so many others, it is tough to know where his form currently is! I would not be surprised to see him in the top 5.

Gallopin should like the punchy circuit and with his fast kick he could be another rider challenging for a podium place.

There is one outsider who I would like to mention.

Dan Martin.

Dan-Martin-Valenciana-Victory_web

He’s no slouch in a sprint from GC contenders and if we do get a properly reduced group like I think we will then he could sneak a podium place. Will he be given the chance if some of his team-mates make it? Hopefully!

Prediction

A tougher day than some might predict, but Valverde will continue his incredible 2017 with another win!

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With Dan Martin not too far behind him!

Betting

I think the 25/1 on Valverde looks massive value at the moment, it is a shame that I’ve just realised that Bet365 are offering win only ;

SkyBet are offering EW places though so bet with them if you can. I’m not too fussed with having to take Valverde straight up as I’m not allowed more than 0.5pt on with them Sky, so 365 it is for Valverde.

As for Martin, he is “EW value” so only bet if you can get him EW!

2pts WIN Valverde @ 25/1 with Bet365 (same price with SkyBet)

0.5pt EW Dan Martin @ 150/1 with SkyBet.

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated! Who do you think will win tomorrow and by what means? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

Tour Down Under Stage 6 Preview; Adelaide -> Adelaide

*This preview will be short as I’m back to work tonight and have woken up later than expected! Plus, there’s not much to say anyway*

Today’s Recap

👑  The King of Willunga is still the King! 👑

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Porte makes it 4 wins on the bounce with a truly impressive attack and sustained effort. Looking at the footage he seemed to actually go 100m earlier than he normally would, attacking at 1.3km rather than his usual 1.2km. No one could match him this time and the likes of Henao etc. were well and truly dropped before the “S-bend” at 700m to go. Are they not as good as previous years or is Richie just in much better condition? I think the latter!

Once Porte made that attack our stage picks had no chance but a special mention must go to Nathan Earle who got up for a credible 6th place. Also, Nathan Haas sprinted to 2nd which currently leaves him 3rd on GC with some bonus seconds up for grabs out on the road on stage 6; that battle for the podium between him and McCarthy certainly isn’t over yet!

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the final day.

The Route

We have the same route that’s featured the past couple of years. I’ll just use the official profile of this stage as my Strava one is a bit messed up. Although saying that, completely ignore the scale on the official profile as it’s wrong! There’s only around 100m elevation gain per lap at most, not 300.

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I can imagine Thomas De Gendt will feature in the break, attempting to wrestle that KOM jersey from Porte. We’ll also possibly see some action from Haas/McCarthy in the intermediate sprints as they look to battle for the podium. Haas could even potentially move up to second too so that should add some excitement to what will be a relatively boring day up until the final 10km.

The final few hundred metres of the circuit does drag ever so slightly up hill but only at around 1% so it shouldn’t be a big deal for any of these guys.

The guys looking to win the stage will want to be near the front at 2.5km to go as they enter the more technical section around the park. From there, the pace will be on and it will be hard to move up the bunch without expending a lot of energy. Saying that, the road does widen in the last km so a team can make a last-ditch run to the line.

Stage Contenders

Short and sweet section here.

On current form Ewan looks pretty much unbeatable. He’s exceptional at these time of kermesse races and with Dubrdige/Gerrans/Impey/Kluge to lead him out he has the best support team too. Justifiably, he is the odds on favourite. Can he take 4 wins out of 6 stages?

Bora will once again have the luxury choice of either Sagan or Bennett. This type of sprint would suit the Irishman better and after having done a lot of work for his team on the past few stages he will be returned the favour here I think. He looked fast on Stage 1 and is possibly the only guy who can seriously challenge Ewan.

Van Poppel will once again be up there for Sky and should expect another top 5 placing, with the same being said for Bonifazio.

I hope Theuns actually gets a clear run at the finish this time without being blocked off. A podium placing is certainly within his sights.

As for the rest, expect to see the usual names of Renshaw, Arndt and Planckaert populating the top 10.

Prediction

Should I be boring but most likely correct and say Ewan? Or slightly more interesting and say Bennett? I’ll be boring for once, Caleb wins his 4th stage of the race!

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I’ll go for Bennett and some PFCL bias here, Theuns, to round of the podium!

Betting

No value in Ewan at those odds, especially when anything can happen in bike racing. One badly timed puncture/crash and he’s out of it. However, I do think there is a bit of value in;

Bennett 1pt EW @ 14/1 with Betfair/PaddyPower (I’d take down to 10/1)

No H2H up yet, but I’ll update my Twitter later if I see something I like/get the chance.

 

Thanks to everyone who’s read and shared the blog over the past week. Not been the best of starts in terms of betting/prediction wise but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless! I shall be doing previews of all the WT races this year plus anything we can watch on TV/stream online so expect more content from me this time round. Also, I fully intend on doing previews of all the Women’s World Tour races too. Maybe not daily stage previews but certainly a GC/over-arching race preview!

I’ll be back next weekend for the Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Road Race. Anyway, thanks again,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Criterium du Dauphiné GC Preview

Criterium du Dauphiné GC Preview

A week since the Giro has finished but it seems to have lasted a lot longer! There have been smaller races on mid-week, such as the Tour of Luxembourg but there has been nothing on TV. That will change come Sunday when we are treated to the annual pre-amble to the Tour with the Criterium du Dauphiné.

As I’ll be doing daily previews again for this race I won’t bother going into the stages in much detail here.

The Route

Prologue:

Dauphine St 1

 

Definitely not what you’d expect if someone said a 3.9km prologue! Expect a few time gaps and maybe a few surprises. Some GC guys will love this, but some of the Ardennes riders could go well.

Stage 1:

Dauphine St 2

Rolling start to the stage but should be kept together for a sprint. Bouhanni has to be favourite.

Stage 2: 

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First road stage hill-top finish. Not the toughest of climbs so there shouldn’t be many time gaps. A bunch sprint of GC favourites or a well-timed late attack the most likely outcome.

Stage 3:

Dauphine St 4

Interesting stage, possibly first break day but looks most likely to be a reduced bunch sprint, or another late attack. Steve Cummings is here…

Stage 4:

Dauphine St 5

If we didn’t get a sprint of sorts the previous day, we should here. The final Km rises ever so slightly, it’ll be a power sprint. Will the man smuggling chickens in his calves win here? *If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this*

Stage 5:

Dauphine St 6

A harder mountain top finish than we had earlier in the week. The final climb isn’t the toughest in terms of average gradient and length, but it is very stop-start with several steep ramps. A punchy GC guy should go well here.

Stage 6: 

Dauphine St 7

The progression of difficulty of the mountain top finishes continues, this time on the cat-1 climb to Méribel. This should be where the GC is won.

Stage 7:

Dauphine St 8

The GC might not have been won convincingly the previous day so time gaps could be small enough for this to become a very exciting GC stage. If not, should be one for the break.

The GC Contenders

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

There are two riders here who are head and shoulders above the rest of the field in terms of Grand Tour quality; Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.

Froome has had an underwhelming start to the season winning the GC at the Herald Sun Tour and a stage at the Tour de Romandie. Not the best start for the reigning TDF champion. However, his season is geared towards being in peak condition at the Tour and it properly starts here. He should at least podium and will probably accept nothing less than overall victory. Team Sky send what looks like the bulk of their Tour team and oh boy, it’s a strong one.

Contador has had a different approach and has raced a lot more than Froome so far this season. His progression in GC has been steady and impressive as well (3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st). After having a poor TDF last year because of his Giro-Tour double attempt, he means business this time round! With the majority of Tour hopefuls riding this race (only Quintana and TVG missing), he’ll want to set out his stall as favourite for the Tour with a win here. He has a very good chance and probably has to start as favourite ahead of Froome.

Tirreno Adriatico - Day Four

⭐ ⭐

However, it’s not a Grand Tour and there are a few riders who will fancy their chances in this week-long race. Below Froome and Contador we have 3 riders who could feasibly challenge for the title. They are Thibaut Pinot, Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa.

I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Pinot this season, he’s been thereabouts on GC when it’s mattered and has performed well against the World’s best on some of the mountain top finishes. His TTing has vastly improved this season but he won’t need them much as I assume they’ll be using road bikes in the prologue. If Contador and Froome mark each other out, I’m sure the Frenchman will be there waiting to take the reins.

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Fabio Aru has had a quiet season so far this year, but let’s not forget he is a former Grand Tour winner, having won the Vuelta last year and an incredibly strong climber on his day. Having not competed since Amstel there is a big question mark over his form, but I expect him to turn up all guns blazing. He’ll want to dispel the rumours that Nibali will be co-leader with him at the Tour by going well here.

 

The real unknown phenomenon here is Mikel Landa. After dropping out of the Giro with illness he’ll want to bounce back strongly. If he’s recovered then he’ll be a great bonus to Team Sky and Froome and is quite easily another winner of this race. Will he work for Froome? Most likely.

Away from the riders above, there are a few names that can be thrown around (I’m just going down the betting odds). After all, we could have a Talansky style win again. Although I can’t see it.

Talansky

Joaquim Rodriguez – Past it IMO. Might win a stage, not GC.

Richie Porte – Did OK at Paris Nice (3rd) and Catalunya (4th) but hasn’t raced since Romandie. I just can’t say he’ll put in a good performance with any conviction.

Romain Bardet – His development seems to have stagnated a bit and he’s been left behind by Pinot. Like JRod, he won’t win GC but maybe a stage.

Others who could Top 10? Mollema, Yates, Martin, Poels, Reichenbach. There are a lot of second-tier GC riders here, none of whom should challenge the Top 5.

Carlton Kirby Joker – Julian Alaphilippe. 

Prediction

I can’t see past any of the top 5 that I’ve mentioned, they are the fairly obvious ones. I’ll narrow it down, suggesting that Landa will be a super-super-domestique for Froome, which leaves Froome, Contador, Pinot and Aru.

 

Being bold as per usual, El Pistolero wins this relatively comfortably. Aru and Pinot will round out the podium with the latter pipping Froome on the final day who falters and finishes 4th.

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Betting

2.5pts WIN on Contador @ 3/1 (PP)

.75pt EW on Aru @ 12/1 (Betfair)

 

Hope you enjoyed this shortish GC preview. Any feedback would be great! I’ll be back with daily stage previews, starting Saturday evening for the following day’s prologue. Have a nice evening! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.