Tour de Pologne 2017 Stage 7 Preview; Bukowina Tatrzanska -> Bukowina Tatrzanska

Today’s Recap

A fairly selective day that saw Sagan lose his leader’s jersey.

Jack Haig attacked early, reminiscent of his dig on stage 2, but this time he was given some more leeway. In the end his winning margin was a comfortable 50 seconds, a very impressive performance from the young Aussie! He’s surely going to the Vuelta again this year.

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Behind a select group of GC contenders sprinted for bonus seconds with Poels besting Jungels.

It leaves 12 riders within 45 seconds of leader Teuns going into the final day of racing tomorrow. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

A short but fairly sharp stage to finish the race off.

TDPS7Prof

You can view the interactive profile here.

The route is focussed around 4/5 (depending on how you break it down) climbs that are situated near the finish village of Bukowina Tatrzanska. However, as I’m short of time, I’ll only really be looking at the ones we tackle on the run in to the line, i.e. the last 30km.

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Another reason that I’m doing this is because I think it is highly unlikely that we’ll see any serious attacks before this point. It would be suicidal to launch an attack at 60km to go given all of the flat land before the climbing starts again.

Sierockie will be the climb to kick things off.

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As you can see, the majority of the altitude gain comes in the first part of the climb before some false flat and a little rise to the summit. The 5.3% average for 5.7km is fairly tough, but it is that opening section which is brutal; 2.7km at 8.7%. That includes almost a kilometre at 13.4%! We could see some riders blow up here if they have to go too deep and if not, the rolling section afterwards could be the thing that breaks them.

Once over the summit, they’ll plunge down the valley and start climbing straight away.

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Almost the opposite of the previous climb, the riders will start off with some gradual gradients before things get really steep at the end. With the steepest gradients coming near the summit, it is the perfect place to launch an attack!

A very quick descent follows before they quickly start climbing again.

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Short and not too much of struggle for the riders here, they’ll be happy for the more consistent gradients! However, if they were on the limit last climb then even this little climb could be of issue as they will have had no time to recover.

Once over the top they’ll have roughly 9km to the finish, of which 5km is descent.

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It will be hard for anyone to create some gaps here if we do have a group come to the line together. However, Henao proved in 2015 that it is possible!

How will the stage pan out?

A strong break in theory should form due to the climbs right at the start of the stage and they could build up a large gap.

However, with the GC battle so close I imagine that they won’t be given much leeway at all and that they’ll be brought to heel with 30km left.

As to how it will play out from there? Who knows.

It looked as if Poels / Majka / Zakarin / Kelderman and Yates were the most explosive on the climbs today in the GC group. Although Jungels did well grinding his way back to them and the same can be said to anyone else dropped just over the top of the final summit.

We could again see a situation where numbers prevail in the front group but compared to yesterday, there are only two teams who have two riders in contention; Sunweb and Orica.

Could Haig manage to do the double? Possibly!

However, I’m taking a different approach…

Sublime Sunweb

The team have been on scintillating form this year and that seems to have continued here. Kelderman looked very good today on the final climb, following the moves with what looked like relative ease. He tried something on the flat roads just before the rise to the line but that was quickly brought to heel by Jungels. It would be extremely surprising to see him dropped tomorrow and with a fast sprint, he has a chance to win a small bunch kick.

What about his team-mate Oomen?

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Arguably one of the most talented young climbers in the peloton, the young Dutchman did a lot of work for his team-mate today. Normally an attacking rider, I would love to see him let off the leash to go for it tomorrow. Similar to Haig, he might be allowed to slip off the front in the closing kilometres as he won’t be instantly recognised as a real threat for the overall. At only 24 seconds back they’d be wrong!

Prediction

Oomen attacks early, softening up the group behind. Kelderman then attacks at the perfect moment to take the stage win and continue Sunweb’s great season!

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Betting

Aplogies for yesterday/today’s atrocious picks, I was really surprised to see Izagirre dropped! Hopefully the Sunweb boys turn it around for us tomorrow.

1.5pt WIN Kelderman @ 7/1

0.5pt WIN Oomen @ 33/1

 

Thanks as always for reading and sorry this is shorter than usual but I am short of time myself! Who do you think will win and how?

Next on the blog will be daily stage previews of the BinckBank Tour!

Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tour de Romandie 2017 Prologue Preview; Aigle -> Aigle

Tour de Romandie 2017 Prologue Preview; Aigle -> Aigle

GC Overview

Short of time again so there’s no full GC preview from me but here are a few quick thoughts.

The weather forecast for the week looks grim, so that certainly suits some riders more than others and wet roads could make some of the descents very treacherous. Nonetheless, it looks to be a two-horse race this between Porte and Froome.

Porte hasn’t raced in over a month since Paris Nice, where he was left bitterly disappointed after losing time in the crosswinds on the opening stages. However, he was sublime and put 21 seconds into a flying Contador on the Queen Stage. It’s the best I think I’ve seen the Australian climb and he’ll want to show well here again to gain a psychological advantage over his old team-mate.

Likewise, Froome also hasn’t raced for close to a month, with his last outing being in Catalunya where he once again was caught out in splits near the start of a stage. None of that matters though to Froome and his season starts here. Without a win this year, he’ll want to change that here and look to seal the title before going to the Dauphiné. Thomas was flying when he came back from South Africa and I expect the same from Froome this time too.

Can anyone stop them? Not really, no! However, Izagirre, Roglic, Spilak, Yates and Pantano will hope to go close and take 3rd place on the podium.

I’ll go for a Porte win. That climbing display in Paris Nice was truly impressive and he’ll just edge Froome, before the tables are turned at the Dauphiné.

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

The Route

Short, but sharp opening prologue for the riders to tackle.

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@LasterketaBurua

You can view an interactive profile of the route here.

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With a few technical turns this prologue isn’t all about raw power, with good bike handling skills also being essential if you want to set a very fast time.

There’s not much to the terrain with it mostly being flat, but we do get a kilometre long drag of roughly 2% from 1.8km -> 2.8km. From there, the riders descend quickly before another few hundred metres at 2% before the flat run to the line.

And that’s that for the route, short and sweet like the effort!

Weather

As is often the case in Romandie, bad weather looks set to play a part in the race.

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Source: MeteoCentrale

It doesn’t look like it will be too bad tomorrow, with most of the rain supposedly falling in the evening. However, there is a chance for a few showers as we get later into the afternoon. Will some of the GC riders go out earlier hoping to avoid them?!

Contenders

A prologue like this is incredibly wide open. Getting my excuses in early! TT specialists will fancy their chances but so will sprinters and strong all rounders.

This list could be very long if I wanted it to, but since I’m in a bit of a rush and I’m not a fan of naming 20 riders, I’ll pick a select few and try to give reasons as to why they can win the stage. Several favourites will be left out but what else would you expect?!

Ion Izagirre.

epaselect SWITZERLAND CYCLING TOUR DE ROMANDIE 2016

Once of the riders blessed by going out in better conditions last year, he avoided the rain which made the descent treacherous, taking the win on the opening day. There isn’t as much climbing in the prologue this year but I would argue that he’s going in much better shape than this time last year. After a very successful Ardennes week (12th was his worst finish) he seems to be bang in form and will be looking to equal last year’s performance.

Michael Albasini.

Another man who has been plagued by the Haughey Curse, I had picked him for the prologue last year at 200/1.

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He was going well too, until he came to grief on the rainy descent. This year he seems to be in equally impressive form with no worse than a 7th place in the Ardennes this week. Known as Mr Romandie, he has 6 stage wins to his name here and he should make it seven at some point this week. Will that be tomorrow?

Stefan Küng.

The second Swiss rider to make the list and a former trackie, the BMC man won the Individual Pursuit World title in 2015. This type of short course should suit him perfectly and he’ll be fired up for his home race. Not having raced since Roubaix, it will be interesting to see what his form will be like, but he has every chance when the winning margin should be small!

Fabio Felline.

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Not a known TT rider, Felline has improved at the discipline over the past year and he finished a very respectable 5th in the TT in Andalucia back at the start of the season. An explosive rider who seems to be going reasonably well, he has a good chance of upsetting the applecart.

Of course there are many others who could get involved and we might even see Porte and Froome feature at the head of the field.

Prediction

Mr Romandie to take his seventh stage win, smashing the TT and hopefully staying up-right this time!

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I think we might see the two big GC favourites get close to the podium as well.

Betting

I wouldn’t normally bet on the GC but because of the price I will;

2pts EW Porte at 9/2 with Bet365. 

He has a good chance of winning, but should podium barring any disaster. Safe in the sense that stakes are returned if he does.

Prologue picks, all with B365 as well;

Albasini 1pt EW @ 28/1

Froome 0.25pt EW @40/1

Porte 0.25pt EW @50/1

 

Thanks for reading as always, I should have a longer preview out for the first road stage. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Dauphiné Prologue Preview: Les Gets – Les Gets

Les Gets straight into it.

(Sorry. I had to get that joke out of the road at some point, may as well be the start!)

Route

Mountain TT, so uphill pretty much.

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We get a flat first few hundred metres leading into a 6.1% section to start off with and after that it’s steep, very steep! The final section supposedly only averages 6.7% but this is due to a false flat finish. After the second kilometre the climb really averages 10.5%+, not very nice!

If you want a more interactive route map, here’s a Strava profile.

There’s nothing else to say really. It should be a joy to watch for us, but I’m sure a lot of the riders won’t be thinking the same.

Weather Watch

As I’m writing this it is currently raining in Les Gets and there is a chance that this weather will continue tomorrow.

Different websites are suggesting different times when the rain and thunderstorms will arrive.

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Accuweather’s forecast. Taken at 4pm on Saturday.
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Worldweatheronline’s forecast. Taken at the same time.

It’s safe to assume we’ll probably get rain at some point tomorrow, with some suggesting more rain earlier, others suggesting the opposite. Who knows?!

There is a chance that start time might come in to play but I don’t think it will have that much of an effect. Everyone will have roughly similar conditions. If anything, it looks like the later starters will get a benefit.

Contenders

To win this stage you obviously have to climb well. However, it’s not a long Alpine climb, it’s much more like the short steep climbs that we see in Spain. This changes the dynamic of the winner ever so slightly. For example, I don’t think we’ll see Pinot win this. He’s much better on the longer, slightly more gentle climbs.

Contador and Froome head the betting and they’re two riders who could manage this type of effort. The former has done well on the short steep climbs of Spain and Froome has proved that he can manage the steep ramps when the Tour finished atop the Huy.

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Away from the top 2 we have a whole host of riders who could give it a good go tomorrow. Porte is good at short sharp climbs and can sprint up them. Except this isn’t January and this isn’t Old Willunga Hill.

Yates being a Brit will enjoy this hill climb a lot and it should suit his punchy nature. The real question is if he’s in form. He didn’t look great last time we saw him race at the Tour de Yorkshire.

After Foliforov’s outstanding win at the Giro, one of his junior rivals could go well here, Louis Vervaeke. A top 5 would be a great result for the young man!

Anyone else listed on the image beside could have a chance of winning this. However, I’m going to highlight two who I think have the credentials to go very well here and challenge for the win.

First up is the youngster Julian Alaphilippe. Off the back of a great GC win over at the Tour of California he’ll be oozing with confidence and will want to show that he can compete with the World’s best.

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He loves the steep gradients as is evident with his two 2nd places at Fleche. Furthermore, he flew up the Gibraltar Road climb over at the ToC. Admittedly, it wasn’t the strongest field but he looked so relaxed at the end. Suggesting he could have gone a lot deeper. He definitely could surprise the big guys here.

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The other rider is his team-mate Dan Martin. Another man who is at home on the steep ramps. He’s not raced since LBL but that doesn’t concern me too much, he was excellent at the start of the season winning the first hill-top finish at Valenciana. Furthermore, he smoked the opposition up La Molina in Catalunya which is a similar climb to this. He probably won’t win the GC but he has a good chance to go into yellow here.

As you can see in the video above, the two Etixx riders off the front look sprightly. I’d suggest that they’re Martin and Alaphilippe.

Prediction

I think it’ll be hard to top the two main GC guys, with Contador probably being the most likely winner. However, as you may know by now if you’ve read a few of my previews, going for the favourite all the time isn’t my thing. So I say we get a Contador, Martin and Alaphilippe podium. It’s just over to the order and I think it’ll be the Irishman on the top step. This 10-15 minute effort looks like the ideal length for him and combined with its gradients, he definitely could surprise. Remember, this isn’t a normal TT!

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Betting

I’m backing the two Etixx riders I’ve mentioned.

0.5pts EW on each.

Alaphilippe @ 18/1 with various sites

Martin @ 66/1 with Betfair or B365

 

Hope you all enjoyed the preview, any feedback would be great as usual.

We should be in for a great spectacle tomorrow, everything will be left out on that climb!

Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.