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

Today’s Recap

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

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

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

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

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

It leaves everything finely balanced going into the final TT.

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

The Route

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

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

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

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

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

Contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for some outsiders…

Stef Clement.

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

Tobias Ludvigsson.

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

Prediction

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

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Betting

Tweeted out my selections before;

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So avoid those two at all costs!

 

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

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

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 14 Preview; Castellania -> Oropa

Today’s Recap

A day where all the action was in the final few kilometres and that once again saw Gaviria win the sprint. He didn’t have it all his own way this time though, as he had to come from 20m back, delivering a truly impressive turn of speed to pip Bennett before the line.

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Stuyven came home in a very respectable third place.

As for Ewan, I thought he had the win in the bag with roughly 300m to go. Richeze was giving him the perfect lead-out but the Aussie rider seemed to hesitate and got boxed in by both Richeze and the Bora lead-out rider (I’m assuming Selig). It looks to me as he’s lost some confidence over the past week as the Ewan we saw at the start of the year would have squeezed his way out of that one or committed to going around the other side.

With the chances for the sprints over for the rest of the race, most will now leave this evening, with our attention focussing on the stage hunters and GC riders for the rest of the race.

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

The Route

The third stage in a row that is all about the closing 20km. Not exactly prime viewing for a Saturday afternoon!

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Thankfully it’s the shortest stage of the race so it shouldn’t be too long until we get to the main event of the day which is the climb to Oropa.

The road actually rises for around 15km before the climb properly starts once the peloton passes through the town of Biella.

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11.75km long averaging 6.2%, it is a fairly tough climb but it is the second half that is the most difficult. After the opening 5km, the gradient barely dips below 7% for the rest of the climb, although there are a few false flats and shallower sections involved.

With these steep ramps near the top, you would expect the climb to suit a more diminutive rider/mountain goat who can manage a more explosive kick on the tougher stuff. However, with the easy run in to the climb, everyone should arrive fresh and I wouldn’t expect the gaps to be too big at the end of the day.

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The climb was last used in the 2014 edition and that saw a break stay away after a much harder run in to the foot slopes. Quintana managed to take a few seconds over his GC rivals but the gaps were not massive. Will we see something similar this year or will Movistar close down any breakaway in the hope to set up Quintana to take some bonus seconds?

How will the stage pan out?

It is one of those 50/50 days where it could go to either the break or the GC guys.

In favour of the GC guys, it is a short stage with a lot of flat which should in theory make it easy for them to control.

However, a lot of the riders will know Quintana will fancy it so I’m not sure if their teams will want to assist with any work to help chase down the breakaway.

I imagine Sunweb will be quite happy to ride it defensively and let the break get up the road to take the stage win. Dumoulin himself said in his post-race interview that tomorrow will be a relatively easy day with a 20-minute climb at the end. He sounds confident in his abilities to follow everyone else and to be honest, I am too.

Originally I was 100% behind this being a definite GC day, but the more I think about it (which is never a good thing) the more I am leaning towards the break staying away. It all depends on the number of riders to make the break and the teams represented, but also on Movistar’s attitude. They tried something on stage 11 but that didn’t really work out for them so they might keep their powder dry for later in the race and just hope to tire Sunweb out by allowing them to control the pace.

So with that being said, it’s time to play everyone’s favourite game…

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Candidates

The issue now is that for a rider to win then they need to be a good climber, but to get into the break they also need to be strong on the flat as well. A good slice of luck is important too! Nonetheless, I shall throw a few names into the proverbial hat. With the stage starting in the Coppi’s hometown I’m sure the Italians will want to feature in the move…

Valerio Conti – Bitterly disappointed to have crashed when in with a chance of the win on stage 8, he’s bound to have another go over the next week or so. He looked great on the climbs that day, although a little too lively at times, but with it being only one big effort so to say he should be in with a chance.

Manuel Senni – The Italian was struggling at the start of the race but he seems to have recovered from that. With Van Garderen struggling, BMC will be attacking for the rest of the race and the young Italian climber might salvage something for the American outfit.

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Michael Woods – After Cannondale overcame their World Tour drought in California, they could well go on to pick up another win here. The Canadian is far enough down on GC not to be a threat and the steep gradients look great for him. He also has the possibility of maybe contending for the stage from the bunch as well if he’s given freedom that way.

Vasil Kiryienka – Sky are most definitely chasing stages now so I’ll be very surprised not to see them in the move tomorrow. Kiryienka is a strong enough on the flat to make the move but he will need to attack solo before the steep parts of the climb if he wants to have a chance of winning.

No #Wongshot from me today as I don’t have enough time!

If it comes down to the GC contenders, it is hard to see past Quintana.

Prediction

I’ll go for a surprise breakaway victory and Woods to continue Cannondale’s World Tour dominance…

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Betting

As I’m not convinced either way how it will play out tomorrow then I’ll have a few small punts on the breakers;

(All with Bet365)

0.75pt WIN Woods @ 80/1

0.6pt WIN Conti @ 80/1

0.4pt WIN Kiryienka @ 150/1 

0.25pt WIN Senni @ 300/1

Quintana at 2/1 is a great price if you think it is a definite GC day but because of the nagging doubt in my head, I can’t be backing that!

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will a break make it or will Quintana be victorious? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 10 Preview; Foligno -> Montefalco

Rest-Day Recap

Quintana won the stage on Blockhaus after a very impressive display, but almost equally impressive were Pinot and Dumoulin who only shipped 24 seconds to him on the day. I’m sure the Colombian won’t be as pleased with that outcome as he is in the picture below!

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As for the motorbike incident that has been a talking point for the last day here are, erm, My Two Spokes Worth.

The bike should obviously have never been pulled over in that place, heck, even if it was pulled over further ahead to give the riders time to adjust, considering it was pulled up roughly 100m after a bend. It seems to be far too regular occurrence in cycling nowadays but as Brian Smith said on Eurosport, organisers and governing bodies can’t keep saying, “something needs to be done”, they need to actually take action. I’m sure the motorbike driver will be well aware of the outcome and will no doubt feel pretty shit but this whole trial by social media isn’t going to help anything.

As for those saying Movistar should have waited: the race was on and they had been pulling for the past 30km. It wasn’t as if they suddenly came to the front when it happened to take advantage. If a majority of the field had come to grief then they might have stopped, but I see no issue with what they did. Should we see sprint trains stop as they approach the end of the race due to crashes caused by barriers that protrude onto the road?

Thankfully none of the riders were seriously injured, although Kelderman and Rosa were unfortunately DNFs because of it. Nonetheless, I’m sure it won’t be the last we’ll see of Thomas, Yates and company this race as they’ll possibly animate later stages.

Right, now that’s out the road, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

A rolling 39.8km TT, but certainly not the most difficult in terms of climbing.

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As is TT tradition, I’ve made the route on Strava that you can view here, for those of you that prefer a more interactive profile.

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Interestingly, the organisers have tweaked the route ever so slightly since it was originally announced; making the first climb easier and removing a tricky second climb.

The riders will start with over 12km of flat as they leave Foligno before tackling the first climb on the route. Averaging 3.2% for 5.2kms, it should be a seated effort for most of the riders. However, it does go up in sections and there are some ramps of 6-7% so the change of gradient might catch a few riders out.

From there, the riders will continue along a plateau before another small kick up (900m at 4%) before a quick descent. The road then undulates for the following 10km with a few shallow rises but nothing too severe, before the riders start the drag to the line.

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According to the official profile it is a 5.75km rise averaging 2.17%, whereas my Strava profile indicates that it’s 4.8km long at 3%. Not a massive discrepancy but nonetheless there is a slight difference. Either way, it is a climb for the strongmen of the peloton who are able to put a lot of power down in the shallower gradients, especially when you consider it will be into a headwind!

The weather in Foligno has been a talking point today with there being severe thunderstorms…

However, it is supposed to be dry tomorrow and we should get even conditions for most of the riders. Will the roads have cleared up by then?

Contenders

With this type of course being suited to a more powerful rider, I think a few of the GC contenders (pure climbers), could lose a lot of time. Will that be to anyone else who’s in contention for the title though?

Well, Tom Dumoulin starts as the bookmakers favourite and it is understandable why. He looked exceptionally strong on Blockhaus and is clearly flying on the climbs right now. Will that translate to a good TT though? I’m not so sure. He’s been struggling recently with his time trial, and hasn’t looked great in them since his silver medal at the Olympics last year. Having lost a lot of weight to stay closer to the best on the climbs I think he might struggle on the flatter parcours tomorrow, which is reassuring actually! I am looking forward to seeing him in action though, he does look effortless on a TT bike.

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Bob Jungels will hope to recover some of the time he lost on Blockhaus tomorrow with a good performance. At last year’s Giro, he was comfortably the best GC rider in the atrocious conditions in Chianti, putting over a minute into Dumoulin. This type of route suits him very well as one of the more “heavy-set” GC riders. Exceptionally strong on the flat, windy stage 3 into Cagliari, I think he’ll podium tomorrow.

Vasil Kiryienka loves a long TT although he hasn’t really been able to show his strength since winning the World Championships in 2015. With Team Sky’s GC hopes looking less likely, I think they’ll give Kiryienka the nod to go full gas. He’ll eat up the flat and the climbs. Plus, his experience will be very valuable so that he paces himself well and doesn’t blow up on the final drag to the line.

Thibaut Pinot is a solid TTer and he will hope to take time over his GC rivals on this course, especially Quintana. He was up there on a similar style of course in Andalucia at the start of the year, although that stage was a 3rd of the distance. That is where my issue lies with him, he’s unproven over longer TTs. He won’t lose much time I don’t think, but he certainly won’t gain any over the likes of Jungels etc.

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Geraint Thomas will be hoping to bounce back with a good time tomorrow. One of the reasons I had backed him pre-race for the podium is because of the amount of TT kilometres in the race. This type of strong-mans course should suit him well, but will he suffer the same issues with weight that Dumoulin might?

Other GC names to throw into the hat are Amador and Zakarin who can both pull off a good TT on their day.

Away from the GC guys watch out for Lotto Jumbo pairing of Campenaerts and Van Emden, who will no doubt be going full gas to give Kruijswijk the best possible reference times. The same can be said for blog favourite Ludvigsson!

Prediction

Bold as ever, but I genuinely don’t think Dumoulin wins. He’s struggled in TTs since losing weight and I think there are riders here better equipped for this type of course, Jungels to name one.

However, I’m not going for him, instead I think Kiryienka will be let off the leash to have a proper go tomorrow.

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It would be a great way for Sky to bounce back after what happened on Stage 9. The Belarusian is a brute of a rider and he’ll eat up any terrain that is in front of him. He is truly exceptional on the longer individual efforts!

Betting

Now the question is whether to play it “safe” and take him EW or just go for win only. Playing it safe means doubling the stake and doubling the potential loss if he just doesn’t bother trying at all. So from that perspective, I think I’ll just take him straight up with what I would put on as an EW bet but just put that stake on outright.

3pts WIN Kiryienka at 8/1 with Coral (would take down 7/1 available elsewhere)

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will there be large time gaps between the GC riders? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Men’s ITT World Championship Preview – Doha 2016

Men’s ITT World Championship Preview – Doha 2016

The final time trial of the Championships is upon us and it’s time for the Elite men to go up against the clock.

In 2015 we had a relatively surprising winner in the form of Vasil Kiryienka. Surprising in the sense that it wasn’t one of the Big 3 (Dumoulin/Dennis/Martin) but considering Kiryienka came 4th at the final TT in the Vuelta and is known for his big engine, then not so much.

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The rest of the podium was against all predictions too, as Malori and Coppel finished 2nd and 3rd respectively, with Castroviejo coming 4th. The Big 3 only managed 5-7th places, all finishing over a minute down. They’ll be out for revenge here!

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

The Route

The men will cover the same route as the trade teams did for the TTT on Sunday.

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Starting at the Lusail Sports Complex, the riders will be faced with a fairly technical 14km section that they could struggle to find a rhythm in due to the relatively short sections and several obstacles (roundabouts/90-degree corners etc) in their way. However, as we saw in the TTT, a lot of these corners can be taken at speed with the correct line.

They then make their way south along a very exposed, straight highway. It will be possible for the riders to maintain a high speed if the wind is in their favour! Once into the outskirts of the city the road gets a bit more sweeping but nothing major of note. They then complete a truncated lap around the Pearl, missing out the east section that we saw today, before reaching the finish line.

Weather Watch

Once again, the riders will be faced with very hot conditions and a bit of a breeze.

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Forecast for Qatar University – 2nd intermediate time check. (Windfinder)

The wind isn’t overly strong and as we saw today, the speed and direction can change pretty quickly in this part of the world. If we do get a correct forecast, then the riders will have a cross-tailwind for the long section in the middle of the desert. Expect very fast times if that’s the case!

With the riders setting off at 1’30 intervals and there being no wave system, there’s only an hour and 40 minutes between the first and last rider to set off, then changeable conditions won’t be as much of an issue as they should all get similar weather out on course. Therefore there isn’t an obvious advantage for the early or late starts respectively. But as I’ve said above, the desert wind can change very quickly so who knows!

The start times for the riders can be found here.

Contenders

Where else to start than with the Big 3?

Rohan Dennis comes here as the bookies favourite and will be confident after his convincing win at the Eneco Tour. However, that TT was only over 10km, this is TT is four times that length. It is in the longer TTs that Dennis suffers but this one isn’t long by World Championship standards and the Aussie will be hopeful here. I’m just not convinced by his lack of consistency over this distance to be confident in him. Watch him prove me wrong now!

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Tom Dumoulin has continued on from where he left off in his breakthrough 2015 season, managing to wear the leader’s jersey at the Giro and win two stages at the Tour, along with winning a silver medal at the Olympics. Not bad! His form has been a bit patchy as of late but he was 4th on the Queen stage of Eneco which is a good indicator and he looked solid in the TTT too. He’s definitely not a right off like some people may suggest.

Tony Martin was instrumental in Etixx winning the TTT on Sunday and he looks back to his best after changing his position on the bike and reverting back to his old technique. Picking up his first win of the season at the Tour of Britain really helped him, it’s amazig what a bit of confidence can do! This type of flat, power-based parcours is ideal for the Panzerwagen and he’ll be gunning for victory. Second favourite with the bookmakers, he certainly has a very good chance!

2016 EQS Camp - Calpe, Spain

As for the rest?

You can’t rule out Kiryienka on a course like this, although he would prefer it longer. But after his poor 2016 season he’s made no indication of a turnaround in form for here so I can’t see him retaining his crown.

Castroviejo is probably the main challenger to the Big 3. On the back of winning the European Championships, he was left disappointed in the TTT after having to make a bike change early on. Having “Vuelta legs” could help him if he’s managed to sustain that form and he’s certainly one to keep an eye on.

There are a handful of other riders who could challenge for a medal if the others fall by the wayside; Bialoblocki, Phinney, Lampaert, Jungels and Oliveira.

I don’t really rate the chances of Bodnar, Durbridge and Van Emden. Contrary to the bookies who have them priced up as 7/8/9th favourites. Bodnar and Van Emden normally don’t go well over this distance and Durbridge was suffering in the TTT, plus has struggled in long TTs recently.

Prediction

Despite his slightly off the boil form recently, I think Tom Dumoulin will win this. He was going well towards the end of Eneco and looked good in the TTT. He is one of the most fluid riders on a TT bike that I’ve witnessed in my short 10 years of following cycling. He’s like poetry in motion! The distance is also very good for him too; a perfect balance for his speed/endurance abilities. He’s not been loud and brash about his form either, in fact playing it down at times, but he’s quietly confident of going well and I am too!

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I think Dennis will go out too hard and blow up later on in the race and we’ll have Castroviejo sneak onto the podium again, with Martin finishing 2nd.

Betting

I have to admit, the odds swayed this prediction slightly. Even with questionable form, no way should both Dennis and Martin be under 2/1, while Dumoulin is 3-4 times that price in most places.

1.5pt WIN Dumoulin @ 8/1 with Betfair Sportsbook (take the 6/1 with B365, or I’d even go down to the 11/2 available elsewhere)

I’ve also backed this H2H 4-fold with Bet365.

0.5pt on at 6.43/1

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Thanks again for reading! The blog recently hit over 20,000 views which is incredible 🙂 Who do you think will win tomorrow? Can anyone beat the top 3 and am I being optimistic with Dumoulin? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

 

Rio Olympics 2016 – Men and Women’s ITT Preview

Rio Olympics 2016 – Men and Women’s ITT Preview

Mixing things up with a joint preview!

After the dramatic events over the weekend, the riders have a couple of days rest before the Individual Time Trial on Wednesday.

The Route

The TT takes place over the Grumari circuit that was used during the Road Race.

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As you can see, the route is a mixed bag of short climbs and long periods of rolling roads. This really opens up the type of rider who can win, as some climbers will fancy it but so will some of the TT specialists. I guess nowadays though, a lot of good climbers are solid TTers as well and vice versa!

The few uncategorised lumps at the start of the route will sap the legs before the first “official” climb on the route; the Grumari Climb. Don’t let the short length deceive you (1.3km long), the average gradient is steep at 9.4%. However, this isn’t the whole story, as the second half of the climb is much tougher, with peaks of 24%. The second climb (Grota Funda) is a much steadier affair, clocking in at 2.1km long and only averaging 6.8%.

Neither of these climbs are alpine, but they will certainly pose a test, especially on a TT bike. As will the descents.

However, it’s not only the climbs that will worry the riders. They will be concerned about the section of cobbles that runs along the coast. This stretch of road caused issues in both the men’s and women’s races with riders dropping chains etc. The stronger riders will certainly be hoping to take advantage of it as the lighter riders struggle to get power down.

After the final descent, the riders will have around 8km of flat road left. They’ll need to save some energy for this as it is possible to lose a lot of time here.

The men follow the exact same route as the women, but complete the circuit twice!

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Female Contenders

Fresh off her RR win, Anna van der Breggen comes into this race as the bookies favourite. She’s had a great season so far, and has performed well in TTs, recently finishing 2nd at the Giro Rosa time trial. Furthermore, finishing 2nd at last years World’s shows that she can last the distance. I would not be surprised if she doubles up!

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Current World Champ Linda Villumsen was on the attack yesterday on the Grumari circuit, obviously wanting to test her legs and have a look at the course at race speed. With her racing in America, it’s hard to gauge her form, but I don’t think she’s quite there.

Lisa Brennauer was also on the attack and this lumpier course will suit her more than a flat effort. However, she’s not been great in TTs this year and that’s enough to put me off her.

USA will turn to Evelyn Stevens as their main hope. She won the tough TT at the Giro Rosa not so long ago and looked good doing work for her team-mates in the road race. A real danger!

I think the course will be too tough and hilly for the likes of Armstrong and Garfoot. Although the latter may surprise me.

One rider I do like for this is Ellen van Dijk. I didn’t manage to catch all of the RR, but from what I saw she looked very, very strong. Constantly attacking, she played a great role for the team. She’ll love the cobbles and the flatter sections, but as was proven yesterday, she seems to be climbing very well too!

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Some outsiders (odds-wise) to look out for are Ashleigh Moolman, Elisa Longo-Borgini and Karol-Ann Canuel. They’ll be hoping to challenge the podium and will want to top 5 at least.

Male Contenders

The length of the TT really makes this one for the specialists, those who can manage their efforts well. On paper, this is a two-horse race.

Froome rightly starts as favourite after his impeccable showing at the Tour. He seems to be back to his best in Time Trials. He should be able to gain time on his rivals on the climbs, and will hope to maintain that on the flat. He will be hard to beat, but has he maintained his form?

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Tom Dumoulin would have been favourite for this if he had not crashed at the Tour. Supposedly he’s recovered well, but is still on painkillers for the race. You never know in cycling if someone is bluffing pre-race, until they get out on the road, but everything combined together is enough to put me off him.

Aside from those two, the podium is wide open. My favourite for making the podium is Vasil Kiryienka. The Sky rider hasn’t been great this year, in fact he’s been terrible, but long TTs are his bread and butter. With no domestique duties to be concerned about, he’ll be going full gas here. Finally. The cycling community rejoices! When in full flight he is something special to watch.

I’d normally be very much raving about Rohan Dennis‘ chances on a course like this, but he seems to be out of sorts as of late. The same goes for Tony Martin, who hasn’t won a race this year (aside from the German TT national championships). They could turn it around here but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that they will.

The two Spaniards; Izagirre & Castroviejo, both seem to be riding well and can challenge here. They will hope to podium but it will be a tough ask. A top 5 is certainly achievable!

Roglic, Cancellara, Oliveira, Phinney and Bodnar will be fighting for top 10 spots, anything better would be great.

*Of course, writing ahead of time means that I’m unsure of how accurate the forecast is. It looks set to be even conditions all day, but this could change quite quickly. Then, we might see riders getting an advantage depending on their start times.*

Predictions

For the women’s race, I think it will be a Dutch rider that will win. It won’t be the favourite though! Instead, we’ll see Ellen van Dijk romp away to victory. She’s won both of the ITTs she’s entered this season and I fancy that to continue. Van der Breggen and Stevens will round out the podium.

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In the men’s race it would be easy to pick Froome but I’m not going to do that. I think the distance will be the key and that will massively benefit a certain rider from Belarus. Kiryienka pulled out early from the road race to focus 100% on this and I say he’ll 100% deliver. The World Champion’s class will shine through! Froome will podium, probably finishing 2nd, with Izagirre claiming the bronze for Spain.

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Betting

Backing both of my riders individually (1.125pt EW) and as a double (0.25pt).

Kiryienka best priced at 16/1 with various bookmakers. 3 places at 1/4 odds.

Van Dijk 9/1 with Boylesports. 3 places, 1/4 odds. If you can’t bet there then Sky/Ladbrokes/Betway are all offering 2 places (1/3 odds). If not there, then straight up is good.

The double is 186/1 at Betvictor straight up. I can’t bet there so have placed it at Betfair instead (at 135/1). Boyles offer the double at 130/1 and that can be placed EW.

 

Hope you enjoyed the double preview?! I thought I’d save everyone’s time as the route is the same, and there isn’t enough to write to stretch it over two separate previews! Who do you think will win both races? I just hope we get equal conditions for all. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

TDF Stage 13 Preview: Bourg-Saint-Andéol -> Le Caverne de Pont

Today’s Recap

Oh to be a bike racing fan!

Thomas De Gendt won a fantastic breakaway, out-sprinting Pauwels and Navarro. He dedicated his win to team-mate Stig Broeckx. Rather poignant after the events that followed behind him on the road. It was a big win for Lotto Soudal who’ve been struggling so far this Tour.

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Behind, well, I’m pretty sure by now if you’re reading this you know what happened. There are fair arguments to both sides of the outcome, however, the more I think about it, the more I think the incorrect decision was made. As bad as it was, it was a racing incident at the end of the day. If it had happened to De Gendt and co would there have been the same jury decision? Froome and Porte getting the same time as Mollema is wrong too in my opinion. The riders behind, Yates etc., were all held up by the crash as well, who says they wouldn’t have made attacks to catch up with them. Or the opposite is equally possible, the way the trio were riding they could have easily gained more time. It’s not even just Froome/Porte that this benefits, Quintana and Valverde get the same time as Yates (because they were in his group at the time of the accident) even though they actually finished the stage 7 seconds down.

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The main thing that should come from this is that the UCI need to be a lot clearer with their rules, rather than just giving vague guidelines that are open to interpretation. While the ASO need to get their act together with everything, they’re turning into a laughing-stock this year. All we need now is a doping scandal to take everyone’s mind off of the farce!

But alas, the show must go on and the circus makes its way to Bourg-Saint-Andéol tomorrow.

The Route

A 37.5km ITT with a real mix bag of terrain.

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I’ve once again made a Strava profile of the stage that you can view here.

Out of the blocks the riders almost immediately start the Côte de Bourg-Saint-Andéol. The climb is 6.9km long with an average gradient of 4.9%. There are some steeper gradients, of roughly 7%, but those sections are very short and last no more than 100 metres. It is a big ring, power climb!

The riders will then travel along a plateau, although the road does rise and fall throughout, it is mainly flat for the next 13km.

They then hit a fast and pretty technical descent with around 16km left in the stage. It only lasts 5km at most, but the riders will welcome a little bit of respite.

Therein they have a flat run to the base of the climb up to the finishing point of La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc. 3.3km in length and at a 4.9% average, the riders won’t be overly concerned by the numbers, however, they will need to keep something in reserve for it in fear of blowing up! If they do, time lost could end up being quite substantial here.

Weather Watch

One of the main influences on ITTs this year has been the weather. There is no rain forecast for tomorrow but the wind, like the past few days, could be a big factor.

Thankfully for the riders, it looks set to be similar all day.

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Wind statistics from Vallon-Pont-D’Arc 

If anything, it looks to favour the GC guys. Although some reports suggest that the wind will turn slightly later and be more of a North wind, rather than the NNE. This would turn some of the sections into more of a headwind and actually hinder the later riders. One thing is for certain; is that no one is certain!

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There is quite a lot of tree-cover out on the course tomorrow so it might not play a big a part as predicted, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Who can contend in a TT like this?

Power riders and GC guys.

The normal TT candidates such as TMartin, Cancellara, Dumoulin and Dennis should all be up there. The first three have all looked very impressive this race so far, doing their various team jobs or going on the attack. Martin and Dumoulin have looked the best when in the break, whereas Cancellara has done a lot of work for Mollema. I’d normally expect Dennis to go well in an effort like this, he’ll view it as a great practice for the Olympics. However, he’s not been going great so far but was up there in the first split today. Maybe he’s been saving himself for this? Kiryenka is another great candidate but he’s potentially been doing too much work for Froome and could be told to take it easy here. Do you really tell the World Champ to do that though?

Of the GC guys Quintana and Froome are hard to split on this seasons ITT form. They’ve only pitted their wits against each other in one TT (at Romandie) and both finished on the same time. I wanted to back Quintana for this TT pre-Tour. I’ve been really impressed by his progression on the bike this year and he’s now one of the best all rounders in the world. Supposedly they have a new TT bike and Nairo practices on it everyday. However, he wasn’t on the best of form today. Maybe he just had an off day or he’s not in great shape at all, only those inside the Movistar camp will know. If he’s recovered for tomorrow he has a real shot of going well here. He seems fairly upbeat…

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Screenshot from the Movistar website

Froome himself has to be a favourite for this stage. He’s looked incredible on the descents, on the flat and on the climbs. His seated attack on today’s stage was unbelievable. His TT hasn’t been great recently but riding the way he is, you can’t discount him! There might be question marks over possible injuries that he sustained today, he seemed to be hobbling after the crash.

Porte could go well here but he seems the worst off after the crash. His team-mate TVG could also put in a decent time. As for the rest of the GC riders, I can’t see them breaking into the top 10.

An outsider who I like for the stage is Luke Durbridge. We saw on stage 10 the amount of work that he was doing for Matthews and Impey, he looks to be on good form going from that effort. He’s not done fantastically well in TTs recently but if he gets the rub of the green here then that could change.

Prediction

I really want to write that Quintana will be the winner here. As I said above, I’ve had him penned in for this stage pre-Tour, but his performance today though has cast doubts in my mind. Froome knows if he puts in a big effort here then that could end the GC battle so he’ll no doubt go well. I’m just not convinced by either of them, in fact, I’m not really convinced by any of the favourites. So sticking to tradition and naming outsiders, Luke Durbridge will put in an incredible ride and pull of an amazing win. After all, he is a former U23 World TT Champion and you don’t get the nickname Turbo Durbo for nothing!

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Betting

Another one where it should be a no bet day but I’m willing to back Durbridge at the price he is.

0.25pt EW 250/1 with Various bookmakers.

 

How do you think the TT will go tomorrow? I think it’s wide open! As usual, any feedback would be great. We should be in for a calmer day of racing tomorrow, enjoy it wherever you’re watching it from. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.