Tour de Yorkshire Stage 3 Preview; Bradford -> Fox Valley (Sheffield)

Today’s Recap

There were a flurry of attacks near the end of the stage but it came down to a sprint.

In the end it was easy for Bouhanni, who took a very comfortable win.

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With Ewan taking second, just ahead of the early sprinting Hivert.

All still to play for tomorrow, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

What a stage and the toughest in this race’s short history!

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The road is up and down all day with barely any respite for the peloton and not to mention the stage is nearly 200km long!

With 4 categorised climbs early in the day, the race could well be split up before the half-way point. It all depends on how aggressively the peloton decides to attack the day.

There is a potential for the race to lull in action in the middle section of the day, but the parcours is still challenging.

The final 20km is a killer though and once they’re through the Intermediate Sprint in Stocksbridge they are either climbing or descending all the way to the finish line.

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View the Strava profile here.

If the race hasn’t been blown to smithereens already, it will be after these 4 climbs and I’ll be very surprised if we see more than 3 riders come to the finish line together.

Speaking of which, it’s not exactly an easy closing few hundred metres…

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Things could get dicey if we see a few riders arrive together.

Weather Watch

It looks as if it’s meant to be a dry but overcast day in Yorkshire. Although at this moment in time, there are supposed to be showers in the area in the late evening so that forecast may change quite a bit come tomorrow.

Nonetheless, it’s not the rain the riders will be overly concerned about: it’s the wind!

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Skipton forecast @50km in. Source: Windfinder

The above is the forecast for Skipton which comes at roughly 50km into the stage and it’s set to be similar throughout the rest of the day which can only mean…

Echelons!

Although not as exposed as some of the racing was on the opening day, there are still plenty of opportunities for teams to try and split the race in the wind.

Such as this one after Leeming.

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Here’s hoping some teams do just that and make it a crazy day out in the saddle.

Contenders

To have a chance of winning here a rider will have to he a strong climber but also good in classics types races, so that they can position themselves well in the crosswinds.

It’s hard to tell where riders are in their season in terms of performance and some will certainly go better than expected, while others will turn in a poor or disappointing result compared to what they were expecting. Just getting my excuse in early for this preview… 😜

As I’m short of time I’ll throw a few names into the hat.

Brent Bookwalter.

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The American is arguably the in-form rider in the Yorkshire peloton after recently finishing 11th on GC in the Alps, nabbing a second place on Stage 5 along the way. A good punchy climber who packs a decent kick, he’ll want to try and get rid of some of the more established names in the bunch before the final 4 climbs. He certainly has a good chance though!

Tao Geoghegan Hart.

The young Brit looked sprightly enough at the end of stage 1, chasing down Voeckler’s half hearted attack with ease. However, he was one of the unfortunate riders to be involved in the crash in the closing straight. The wounds seemed to be superficial and Sky will be hoping their young prodigy can make the most of his lightweight frame on the steep climbs of Yorkshire.

Mauro Finetto.

I’m like a broken record this week, with the Italian getting his third mention in my previews. I mean, it would be rude not to include him again?! Not having raced for a while, he’s had the opening two stages to re-find his form and get up to race speed. In a field that’s not stacked with big named climbing talent, he could surprise.

Tom Stewart.

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The One Pro rider is a very handy climber, finishing 11th here on GC last year. He’s not shown as well in this race so far and was one of those to be collected in the stage 1 pile up, but he suffered no injuries. I think he might be able to spring a surprise tomorrow!

One other name I’d like to throw into the hat is Maurits Lammerink. The Katusha rider in theory should enjoy this type of stage as he has gone well on steep ramps in the past. He’s not been great so far for his new team this season, but a 25th in Fleche highlights that the form might be coming.

The likes of Kruijswijk etc could feature as well but I think he might keep his powder dry for the Giro.

Prediction

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know exactly where this is going…

Super Mauro!

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It is a bit of a lottery of a stage which should hopefully make it a great watch.

Betting

Not going wild, so…

(all with 365)

0.5pt WIN Finetto @ 16/1

0.125pt EW Stewart @ 200/1

0.125pt EW Pearson @ 100/1

 

Thanks as always for reading and apologies again that this is a bit shorter than normal. Who do you think will win tomorrow and what race situation will we see into Fox Valley? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

Tour de Yorkshire 2017 Stage 2 Preview; Tadcaster -> Harrogate

Today’s Recap

That was hectic!

The peloton split over the final categorised climb of the day but things regrouped and we ended the day with a fairly large sprint. However, it wasn’t a simple sprint as the pace at the front of the peloton slowed, riders bunched up and things got messy. Unfortunately there was a fairly large crash that took out a lot of riders.

Nonetheless, it was Groenewegen who came from far back to take the win. Managing to weave his way around his opponents and still have enough to hold off a charging Ewan who finished no more than half a wheel behind.

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A very honourable mention to third place finisher Opie who managed to avoid all the carnage and finish comfortably ahead of the likes of Bouhanni etc.

Will we see a similar finish tomorrow but without the carnage? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

An easier day in the saddle and a stage that should come down to a bunch sprint.

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There are some rolling, uncategorised climbs in the second half of the day, but nothing that should be too difficult for the bunch…

Saying that, the final 12km on the profile looked “interesting” so once again I’ve made a Strava profile of said ending! You can view that here.

Turns out the finale isn’t as easy as I had originally thought.

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The climb once they leave Birstwith is 1km long and averages roughly 5.8%. Not severe, but its proximity to the finish means the riders will be going full pace and it will certainly sap the legs of the sprinters.

Likewise, the following climb of Greyston Plain Lane is 2.1km at 3.9%. Even easier gradients this time but double the length. They won’t have had much respite after the Birstwith climb because it’s straight off the steep descent and back up the road again.Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.02

Once over Greyston Plain Lane, there is a shallow descent all the way until just over 2km to go. It’s at the 2km to go banner that they’ll take a right hand turn at a roundabout, before the drag to the line.

This finish was used back in the opening stage of the 2014 Tour, except the riders came directly from the North side of the roundabout.

From that point though, the run in to the finish is identical.

As for the severity of the ramps themselves, I would actually believe the Strava profile more than the closing 5km from the road book. We have a 500m section at 6.8% followed by a swift 300-400m descent which allows the riders to gather up some speed before the final kick up to the line and false flat finish (500m at roughly 3%).

How will the stage pan out?

It should be a sprint stage, don’t get me wrong, but that closing 12km could certainly spring a surprise or two.

The equivalent run in to the 2014 Tour stage wasn’t as difficult so I’m intrigued to see what difference the slightly grippier terrain makes.

It is also important to consider that the riders in 2014 were in peak fitness for the Tour, at this race, there is a high chance quite a few of them won’t be and that drag to the line might be harder than they expect.

I think it will be tough for anyone to make a move on the climb out of Birstwith or on Greyston Plain Lane but I do think some more attacking riders will try something on the run in to the line.

Will the WT sprinters teams be able to hold it together? After today’s sprint it is clear Ewan and Groenewegen are the fastest, although I’m not sure Bouhanni would agree after being dumped at the front too early. Nonetheless, Jumbo and Orica will be the teams shouldered with doing most of the pace making and chasing throughout the stage which will tire their lead-outs and ability to close down attacks at the end.

We saw that Voeckler was sprightly on the run-in today and it would not surprise me to see him try something again tomorrow.

Sprinters?

Tomorrow’s sprint is more difficult than today’s but you would still expect the same riders to be involved.

Ewan likes an uphill drag to the line as was shown in his first ever GT win back in the 2015 Vuelta. Can he repeat that here?

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Groenewegen not so much and he was distanced on the last climb of the day today (along with Ewan), he might struggle a little bit.

Conversely. Bouhanni will be annoyed after dropping the two aforementioned guys on the Robin Hood’s Bay climb that he could not win the sprint. I think we’ll see him come out fighting tomorrow and he has a good chance of taking the win.

Sbaragli did well to avoid the crash and the drag up to the line tomorrow suits him more than a pure flat sprint. Podium chances.

Likewise my two picks for today’s stage Planckaert and Kragh Andersen both did well to avoid the crash but a tougher sprint is better news for them. I would expect them to finish higher than their 9th and 13th places today respectively.

Late attackers?

This was a stage I wanted to mark down for Ian Bibby. The JLT rider recently won the third round of the Spring Cup Series on a tough course and this explosive finish looks ideal for him. Unfortunately he was involved in today’s crash but seems to be okay…

Mauro Finetto.

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I mentioned the Italian as a possible animator of the race today but the stage wasn’t approached as aggressively as I had hoped for from the peloton. Delko were very attentive near the front of the bunch today and Finetto possesses a fast enough kick to surprise in a tricky sprint. Furthermore, he is explosive enough to get a gap from the group if he attacks. Can he maintain it all the way to the line though?

Prediction

It should be a sprint but there will be a few surprise names. After his disappointment today, Bouhanni won’t make that same mistake tomorrow. Bou-Bou to trounce home! He’s grossly under-rated as a climbing sprinter and he’ll prove some people wrong tomorrow.

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Betting

1.5pt WIN Bouhanni @ 4/1 (all 365)

0.25pt EW Bibby @

0.25pt EW Finetto @ 300/1

Bibby not priced so…

0.25pt EW Kragh Andersen @ 100/1

 

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

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

 

Tour de Yorkshire 2017 Stage 1 Preview; Bridlington -> Scarborough

Tour de Yorkshire 2017 Stage 1 Preview; Bridlington -> Scarborough

GC Overview

Like I thought might be the case, I don’t have enough time for a full GC write-up so here are some quick thoughts…

More than likely the GC will come down to the very tough final day. However, there is a small chance tomorrow’s stage will have an effect if it’s anything like stage 1 from the first edition of the race.

Nonetheless, it should be a classics type rider who does well on the final day. With the potentially windy conditions over the moors, it won’t only be the climbs that can cause splits in the bunch, but there is a good chance we’ll see some echelons too.

Having a strong team will be important and Dimension Data look to have arguably the best here. They have several handy climbers who should be there or thereabouts at the end, it just depends on who will be their leader, local rider Scott Thwaites maybe?

Team Sky have strong riders in Rowe and Stannard, but I would imagine that Geoghegan Hart is their best option due to the amount of climbing in the finale. The two aforementioned riders will be there to position him well and it will be over to the young Brit to deliver.

The defending champion and always gurning Voekcler is here again and he is sure to animate the race but I can’t see him winning the overall this time round.

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UK Continental riders such as Thomas Stewart and Ian Bibby are two other names to keep an eye on over the coming days with a top 10 a very good possibility for them both.

There are a few other riders I have in mind, but I shall keep my cards close to my chest so to speak and save them for the Stage 3 preview. 😜

As for now, I’ll go with a Geoghegan Hart win, but that is subject to change!

Grand Piemonte

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

The Route

An interesting day out in the saddle, with the now traditional finish into Scarborough.

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I say interesting, because it is similar to the first stage we had in 2015 where the peloton was torn to bits by the climbs. This year’s run in is easier but is still fairly demanding.

I was hoping for something similar to that first edition but according to some Yorkshire natives (@gizza_tips and @BearTowell) it’s unlikely that we’ll see that!

Out of intrigue though, I have still made a Strava profile of the last 75km that you can view here.

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The peloton has a lot of rolling climbs to contend with such as my new favourite Strava segment, “To the ice cream van!” which is the 12km, 2% average climb out of Pickering.

We then of course get the 1.3km, 9.7% climb of Goathland. Well, it’s actually ever so slightly longer than the official profile suggests and is actually 2.1km long at 6.8%.

Once over the summit, there is a very fast descent into Sleights, before the peloton start climbing again after they are through Whitby.

Another gradual rise for the peloton to get over, 7.1km at 2.3%, which they then quickly descend off before the sharp kick up of Robin Hood’s Bay.

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1.5km in length and averaging close to 10.5% (although the Strava segment is closer to 11%), riders certainly can get dropped on the climb and lose a fair bit of time. If the best climbers in the peloton attack it then they should manage the ascent in roughly 5 minutes.

We won’t see any echelon action on the moors on Friday though unfortunately as the wind is mostly a tailwind on the run in to Scarborough.

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Source: Windfinder

Will that help those dropped get back in to the bunch, or will it help a stronger peloton stay away over the closing 25kms? It will be frantic either way!

Once into Scarborough, the riders will have to negotiate a fairly technical final 5km, although from 2km to home it is easy.

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One thing the riders will have to consider is that the tailwind they had coming into Scarborough will now be a headwind for the final few hundred metres. You won’t want to open up your sprint too early!

How will the stage pan out?

It really depends on who and who doesn’t make it over Robin Hoods Bay in contact with the bunch and how aggressively the peloton attacks the climb itself. Considering the up and down nature of the race before it, the bunch could already be tired if the pace has been on for a while.

We could see some of the GC favourites and strong teams light it up, putting the sprinters in difficulty. Yet, as it has been pointed out to me, it’s the first day of the race and you would expect them to have fresh enough legs to cope with a 5 minute effort.

I think I live in hope more than anything else!

The most likely scenario is that we see a reduced sprint in Scarborough, of maybe 30-40 riders.

Contenders

Which sprinters make it to the line; that’s the proverbial million dollar question.

Bouhanni was climbing well in Catalunya and has maintained some solid form since then, with a third in Scheldeprijs and a win in Paris-Camembert. He’s not raced for a fortnight though so he’s a bit of an enigma in that sense. If he makes it over, then he’ll be the fastest rider there.

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Or is he? I’m sure fans of Ewan and Groenewegen would disagree!

The Aussie pocket rocket was flying at the start of the season but he’s not raced since his 101st in Gent Wevelgem. It’s hard to know where is form is because of that but in theory his diminutive stature should help him get over the climbs. If he’s close to where he was in January then he’ll be a threat. If not, team-mate Magnus Cort will be their sprinter.

Still without a win this season, the Dutchman will be hoping to turn that around here. Very fast on his day, he’ll be able to rely on a strong team to help lead him out. That is if they make it in the peloton together!

Some other riders that could get involved are Van PoppelBlythe, Lawless and Sanz.

There are two outside sprinters I’d like to mention.

Søren Kragh Andersen may be second choice on paper out of the Sunweb team, but I would fancy his chances of getting over the final climbs compared to his team-mate Bauhaus. I’d wrote that before the teams were finalised but it seems Bauhaus isn’t riding so it’s just SKA. Packing a solid sprint after a tough day, in this type of field he could surprise.

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Lastly, I think Baptiste Planckaert deserves a very worthy mention. The Belgian rider has settled in well at World Tour level, nabbing a few top 10 results for his new team Katusha. Much more than a fast sprinter, this type of stage looks ideal for him and I think he has a very good chance at a podium.

If we do get that attacking day I’m hoping for then look to the likes of Finetto, Bibby, Stewart, Weening and Hivert to animate the race.

Prediction

I really want to call this as an attacking day, but I’ll be sensible for once and go for a reduced bunch sprint of around 40 riders.

I’ll not be sensible with the following though…

A few of the bigger names will miss out and that will give an opportunity for someone else to step into the limelight. Planckaert to win!

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Betting

No GC bet so just stage 1 picks;

0.5pt EW Planckaert @ 22/1 with Bet365

0.5pt EW Kragh Andersen @40/1 with Bet365

Oh so tempted with the 66/1 on offer for Finetto if the race does break up, but I think I’ll leave it with the two “sprinters”!

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. How do you think tomorrow’s stage will pan out and who will eventually be the winner? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Nice 2017 Stage 6 Preview; Aubagne -> Fayence

Today’s Recap

Close, but not close enough with Matthews, as he seemed to get boxed in with around 250m to go after being in a great position. Instead, it was Greipel who took an incredibly convincing win!

 

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He really is one of the best in the world at those power-type sprints. Anyway, let’s look ahead at tomorrow’s stage and what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

The toughest day in the saddle yet for the riders. I wonder how many of the sprinters will see the next few stages through?

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Starting off with the Col de l’Espigoulier straight from the gun is a brutal beginning for the riders. It does offer a great platform for a break to get up the road and build up a good lead. Just getting into the break will be tough! In theory we could see some of the GC contenders go wild from the start and try to isolate Alaphilippe but with the 100km of relative flat afterwards, that’s not a great idea.

The race then really heats up in the final 80km with 5 classified climbs. An “easy” Cat-2 and Cat-3 before we enter the final circuit and the Col de Bourigaille is ascended from two different sides. In terms of gradient they’re not the toughest climbs in the World, but the position of the second ascent does make it a good place for an attack. With only 19km left and the majority of it being descent, it will be hard for a group to bring back a leader if they have a small gap and co-operation is not 100%.

Once they hit the valley floor, the road rises up all the way to the finish line.

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It’s a very steep end to the day and it requires an explosive finish. Last time we were here it was Carlos Betancur who took the victory! I miss 2014 Carlos 😞.

I wouldn’t expect the GC time difference to be that big here, but we maybe could see 10 seconds separate the top 10 if a few riders let go of the wheel in front of them.

It actually looks like a great finish for our current GC leader and would present him with an opportunity to pick up more bonus seconds. I don’t think the rest of the peloton will want that so…

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Contenders

As per usual, I’ll only name a handful of riders who I think might be able to make the move. With it being such a demanding start to the day, only 1 rider will be making their regular appearance on this list – watch the other two go on and make the break now!

Mathias Frank.

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The AG2R man has had a very solid start to the season, finishing 7th on GC in the Tour of Oman. Having lost a lot of time in the first few days, he’s no threat for the overall so should be given some leeway. He won the ridiculously steep finish up to Llucena in the Vuelta last year, so this 9.8% average gradient should be a walk in the park for him!

Mauro Finetto.

Yep, for the third preview out of six, I’ll name Finetto again! A great, punchy climber with an explosive finish. Some of the longer climbs out on the route might be an issue for him, but if he comes to the finish in Fayence with a group then he has every chance of taking the win.

Nicolas Edet.

The Frenchman actually had one of the fastest climbing times up Mont Brouilly in the TT. Always a rider who seems to be there in the breaks but just doesn’t have enough for the win (he doesn’t have a professional victory), his climbing form certainly seems to suggest that now is a good a time as ever!

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Credit goes to @ammattipyoraily  on Twitter for the table.

I’m going to take another rider off that list for my final selection.

Sam Oomen.

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The young Dutchman had an exceptionally good neo-pro season with Giant last year; managing to pick up a stage and the GC at the Tour de l’Ain, not to mention a 3rd place on GC at the Critérium International.  He then animated several races in the back-end of the year. This season has got off to a slower start for him, but he seems to be riding into some nice form and tomorrow looks like a great day for him to get up the road.

Prediction

I can’t not name him, right?! #ForzaFinetto

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Betting

Not a great day odds wise so this is a bit hesitant.

0.25pt WIN on them all;

Finetto @ 100/1 (Various)

Oomen @ 33/1 (Various)

Edet @ 150/1 (Ladbrokes)

Frank @ 50/1 (Ladbrokes)

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Do you think tomorrow is a breakaway day, or will we see a GC showdown on the final climb? It should be an exciting stage either way! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Paris Nice 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Chablis -> Chalon-sur-Saône

Today’s Recap

Another miserable day but we did get a modestly sized bunch gallop in Amilly as was expected. What was not expected however was the winner, Sonny Colbrelli. The Italian delivered an incredibly impressive sprint to hold off the likes of Degenkolb and Démare.

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I could have written yesterday’s preview 10 times and I don’t think Colbrelli’s name would ever be involved. Normally a great sprinter after a tough climbing day, maybe that should just be changed to a tough day in general?!

As for the blog bets, another annoying day as all 3 selections finished in the main peloton but either didn’t have the legs or weren’t positioned well in the closing kilometre. Oh well, on to tomorrow! Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

The tougher of the sprint stages in terms of terrain, we have two categorised climbs in the final 70km of the stage.

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The Côte de Grandmont is 2.4km at 4.9%, with the Côte de Charrecey being 2.1km long and an average gradient of 6.7%.

Not the toughest climbs in the world, but the Charrecey could certainly see the bunch split, especially after the tough two days we’ve already had. There are some tired bodies out there!

The run in is flat, but rather technical in the last 5km.

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As you can see, they have to traverse 3 roundabouts and a few sharp turns. Thankfully the final 2kms are straightforward but I imagine the peloton will be strung out by then so the fight for position will be crucial at just after 5km to go.

That is if we get a whole peloton coming into the finish together…

Weather Watch

It looks set to be another windy day for the bunch, well, at least the start of the day. The riders will also be thankful that it looks like they’ll miss the rain!

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The above forecast is for Noyers which is roughly 20km into the stage. As you can see, the wind isn’t as strong as it has been the past couple of days but at a constant speed of 20km/h it still has the potential to cause some damage. Particularly when you consider the direction of it and the fact that there will be a lot of tired bodies in the peloton.

How will the stage pan out?

I’m in two minds about this one.

We could well see a relatively straightforward sprint stage, with the strong sprint teams controlling the race all day. This is the easy option.

However, I am one to over think things tactically at times and the Cat-2 climb at 30km throws a spanner into the works. I’m not sure the likes of Kittel will make it over in the bunch because the smaller sprinters, such as Colbrelli, will want a high pace to get rid of the proper fast men. Therefore, will the likes of QuickStep and Lotto work all day?  Also you have to consider how brutal it has been the past couple of days so will the sprint teams have the energy to control everything all day? We saw today how tired Greipel, Kittel and Kristoff seemed at the end of the stage. With an important GC day coming up on Wednesday, I think a few of the riders will want to save their legs for that.

I think I’ve just convinced myself. Tomorrow is a day for the breakaway or late-attackers. The only issue is if FDJ get overly defensive with their yellow jersey.

There are plenty of riders who are no threat at all on GC in this race, even some of those within a minute of the leader, so choosing who might make the move is a lottery. They’ll need to be a decent climber but also strong on the flat and once again I find myself returning to a few names I threw into the hat on stage 1.

Break Contenders

Alexey Lutsenko.

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The Kazakh rider made a half-hearted attack today that was quickly nullified. You could argue that it was a poor attack and that he didn’t look strong, but I’m blinded by my PFCL3 loyalty (a season long fantasy game on Twitter for those unaware) and I think it was a dig more in anger than anything else. The end of this stage looks a carbon copy of the one he won here last year, just the start of it is nowhere near as hard. He’s a danger if he makes the break!

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Excerpt from the Astana website

Oliver Naesen.

With Bardet out of the race, the AG2R riders will be given freedom to attack. Naesen sprinted to 7th place today after missing the split on Sunday, getting a slightly “easier” rider then. A very tough rider who’s clearly on good form he’ll relish the possibility of the break making it tomorrow. Not afraid of an attack, he is certainly one to keep an eye on!

Mauro Finetto.

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My third re-selection from Sunday’s stage. Like Naesen, Finetto missed the split on the first stage but finished with the bunch today. He’s in very solid form this early season, picking up one win and several top 10 finishes. A very under-rated rider in my opinion, he should cope with the climbs easily and has a good sprint from a reduced bunch at the end of the day.

(I may also be blinded by PFCL3 loyalty with him too!)

Adding to the three from Sunday, there is one more rider I’d like to add.

Tony Martin.

Finished relatively well on stage 1 and in the second group today managing to have an “easier” day. He looked very strong on the first stage, doing a lot of the work in the chase for Zakarin, clawing back a lot of the gap himself. His form seems to be on the up for the Classics and we’ve seen in the past him attacking the day before a TT to stretch his legs. Give him a gap and he’ll be hard to bring back!

Prediction

Peloton takes it relatively easily and a rider in good form capitalises. Oliver Naesen to take the win!

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Betting

0.3pt WIN on them all.

Naesen @ 66/1 with Betfair

Finetto @ 125/1 with Bet365

Lutsenko @ 80/1 with PaddyPower

Martin @ 80/1 with Betfair

Not wrote anything above about him but also adding Claeys at 300/1 with Bet365. As the price he’s at appeals, brute of a rider and Cofidis will now be attacking without Bouhanni.

So it’s 1.5pt in total staked across them.

Obviously prices might be better elsewhere later so keep an eye out!

Thanks as always for reading and as usual any feedback/discussion is greatly appreciated. Do you think we’ll see a break make it or will it be another sprint? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

Paris-Nice 2017 Stage 1 Preview; Bois-d’Arcy -> Bois-d’Arcy

*Apologies, this will be short and sweet as I’m busy with work/got pre-occupied watching Strade*

Stage one and a day that should on paper end in a sprint but might entice the risk-takers of the peloton.

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A fairly simple day terrain wise, this stage is all about the closing few kilometres, it’s very technical.

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This means that the peloton will be very stretched out , with several roundabouts and turns to negotiate. Not to mention there is a 1km-long climb to be traversed at 2km left in the stage.

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It looks to average roughly 5% for that kilometre so appears to a great launchpad for a late attack from someone in my opinion. The road then descends until 500m to go where we have a 90-degree turn, before it rises ever so slightly to the line again. This finish is going to be chaotic and certainly not for the faint hearted!

Another thing that will make this a challenging day is the…

Weather

Looking at the forecast for the region, it is set to be wet and windy for the majority of the day.

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Bois-d’Arcy forecast (Source: Wunderground)

Those strong winds could cause carnage out on the course and there is a very good chance that we might see some crosswinds, depending on how aggressively the teams approach the day. With there only being a couple of clear GC days, I do think a few squads will be looking to cause some havoc tomorrow and the race will get split up out on course.

Sprinters

We do have some of the best sprinters in the world here with the two main Germans heading the field.

I don’t think Kittel will fancy a finish like this and in poor weather, he backed out of one in Abu Dhabi like this. To give Greipel his credit, he proved me wrong in that same sprint in the Middle East so he could have a chance here. The climb will be on his limits but I think he could be there!

Behind them, there are a whole host of guys who will fancy their chances, such as Bouhanni (who will LOVE this finish), Kristoff and Démare to name a few.

Yet, as I said above, I’m not entirely sure we’ll see a sprint and since we’ll more than likely see a bunch gallop on Stage 2 I’m going to leave it at that for today with them.

Instead…

Late Attackers

I really think this finale is conducive to a late attack sticking, especially if the conditions whittle down the peloton before we reach the finish town. I have three riders in mind to keep an eye out for who all kind of fit the same mould, but are ever so slightly different;

Oliver Naesen.

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The AG2R man has had a very solid start to the season, picking up a 7th and 8th in Omloop and Kuurne respectively last weekend. An attacking rider, this short climb looks perfect f0r him to try to spring a surprise, hoping to put his good cobbles form to use. He’s not a slouch in a reduced sprint too so if a group of 5 or so get clear then he has a chance in that situation too.

AlexeyLutsenko.

The best Kazakh rider since Vinokourov, Lutsenko picked up a truly impressive stage win at this race last year holding off a charging peloton on Stage 5. He’s started this year well too without picking up a proper result, not finishing outside of the top 30 on any stage in Oman. Most recently he was part of the Kazakh team that won the Asian Cycling Championships TTT, but I’m not really sure what to take from that. Either way, he’s the type of guy not afraid to give it a go!

Mauro Finetto.

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Unlike the other two he already has a win to his name this season, taking home the Classic Sud Ardeche from a small bunch sprint. A proper journeyman of a rider, he might finally have found a place to showcase his talents with Delko. He’s without a World Tour win in his career but that might all change tomorrow!

Prediction

A late attack prevails after the race has been battered by wind and rain. A man who has no issues in those conditions will be victorious, Lutsenko to win! The guy oozes class on a bike and is an U23 World Champion let’s not forget. I think he’s in for a big year and this may well be the start of it.

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Betting

I did tweet the selection out previously and their price did stay like that for a while so that’s what they’re being noted down as! 0.25pt WIN on them all;

Lutsenko @ 100/1 with Bet365

Naesen @ 100/1 with Bet365

Finetto @ 100/1 with Betfair

I would take 66/1 lowest price with them all. Others may price up favourably later on so keep an eye out!

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Apologies again for this being shorter than normal. Who do you think will win tomorrow?  My GC preview is up on the site too if you missed that earlier. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Trofeo Laigueglia 2017 Preview

Trofeo Laigueglia 2017 Preview

After the GP Etruschi last weekend, Italian Cup action returns this Sunday with the 54th edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia.

Last year’s race was won by a late attack from Andrea Fedi in the final kilometres, holding off a small group behind that had escaped on the closing circuits around Laigueglia. With Colbrelli edging out Bole in the sprint for second place.

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The Route

After changing the route almost every other year, the organisers have this year stuck with the parcours that has been used in the past two editions.

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Big loop -> Medium sized loop -> Circuits of a small loop!

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The first GPM in Paravenna at 60km is 6.8km long, averaging 5.6% in gradient. Not overly tough for the peloton, but certainly a leg opener for later in the race.

We then have a descent and long flat section before the highest peak of the race at erm, ahem, Testico.

Now this climb was a real ball-ache to try to find figures for so I reverted back to what works best and made a Strava profile.

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Now, including that long false flat drag, the climb is 13.9km at 3% in gradient. However, starting at the 7km mark, the remaining 6.9km averages 4.6% with some sections over 9%.

Again, it’s not really challenging for the pros but it will sap the legs for the closing circuit. Speaking of which…

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As per, I’ve also made a strava profile that you can view here.

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The first climb on the circuit is 2km long, averaging 7.8% with ramps of 15% around some of the hairpin turns. Climbing this 3 times with the pace on will certainly hurt and it is a great place for a group to go clear; like we saw last year!

We then get a fast descent, that starts off technical, before reaching the flat roads through Andora and back to the coast line. The road then climbs again for 1.5km, averaging roughly 9.5%. Crest the climb with a good advantage and you have a good chance of making it to the line as there is 2km of a shallow descent followed by a flat finish to home!

How will the race pan out?

It’s only fair really to take into account the last two editions of the race as the course varied so much in the past.

Back in 2015, it was Lampre sprinter Davide Cimolai who managed to take the win. Beating Gavazzi and Tsatevich in a reduced 24-rider bunch sprint. Last year’s event, as mentioned earlier, was won by an attack from Andrea Fedi in the closing kilometres on the final downhill. He managed to hold off a pursuing group of 9 who sprinted for the remaining top 10 places.

I think we’ll see an aggressive race again this year, with maybe 15 riders at most coming home within 30 seconds of the winner.

Contenders

Diego Ulissi has to start as the favourite for this race.

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Off the back of a solid showing at the Tour Down Under, he went on to win GP Etruschi last weekend in miserable conditions. Attacking on the footslopes of the last climb, he quickly built up a good lead and was never seen again by the peloton. Making his move right at the bottom of the climb highlights to me the confidence he has in his condition just now and going off of that performance, he has every right to be confident!

However, the quality of climbers at Etruschi was not as strong as it is here this weekend so Ulissi won’t have it all his own way.

Etoile de Bessèges winner, Lillian Calmejane, arrives with a strong Direct Energie team. The young Frechman has the climbing ability to be able to match Ulissi here and will also be confident after last weeks showing. Having the likes of Chavanel and Voeckler to rely on will be a big aid for him. Being able to send riders on the attack and not have to follow everything, like Ulissi might have to do, should mean Calmejane is well rested for the final circuits. He is certainly capable of winning again this weekend!

Following on from his 3rd place in Etruschi, Francesco Gavazzi will be aiming further up the podium here. Not the best naturalised climber in the peloton, he will be hoping for a coming together in the closing kilometres and a reduced bunch sprint to the line.

Winning the only race he’s finished this year so far, Arthur Vichot will be hoping to continue his 100% record.

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A rider who has promised a lot in one-day races in the past, he certainly has the solid climbing abilities and good kick to contend here. Has he recovered from his flu that saw him pull out of Bessèges?

Delko Marseille will have a couple of cards to play in the form of El Fares and Finetto. The former finished 4th in Marseillaise at the start of the year so seems to be in good form. Likewise, Finetto finished a respectable 7th in that race, before coming home 3rd in a stage at Bessèges; beating Samuel Dumoulin in a sprint. Finetto normally goes well in these types of races and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t manage a top 5 placing here!

Astana arrive here with an interesting squad, but I imagine it will be Moreno Moser who will be leading the team. The 2012 winner of this race has struggled in the past after his incredible neo-pro season. However, last year he seemed to return to form with good showings in the Giro and Vuelta and I expect big things from him this year again. With a return from altitude camp on the cards and no racing in his legs, it will be very interesting to see how he performs here.

The team with my favourite hashtag in the peloton, Willier Triestina, will be looking towards Pozzato to either roll the clock back or for Matteo Busato to continue the good progression he showed last year. Although he’s not taken a professional victory yet, Busato took a number of Top 10s last season, including a very impressive 2nd place on the final stage at the Giro del Trentino. Following a pretty much non-existant Dubai Tour, I’m sure he’ll want to impress back on home soil. #LoveMyWillier.

The Italian National team has three candidates to go well here; Felline, Trentin and Bettiol. All on their day have the credentials to take a podium place here but I’m unsure of what their current form will be like.

Other names to keep an eye on are; Andreetta, Bouet and Torres.

Prediction

Ulissi is the clear favourite but I have a sneaking suspicion that Moser will be fired up for this race. He won’t get many chances to lead Astana this year so will want to make his mark nice and early!

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There is absolutely no PFCL fantasy team bias in this preview at all…none…ok…maybe a little.

 

Thanks for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated as always! How do you think the race will play out? Will it be a solo winner, or a reduced bunch sprint? I shall have an Oman GC preview out tomorrow evening sometime. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.