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.

Rio+Olympic+Womens+Time+Trial+2d

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!

Rio+Olympic+Mens+time+trial+2d

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!

breggenrio-olympics-cycling-_webf-2

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!

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 15.43.10

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?

WATSON_00004681-021-630x425

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.

VanDijk1.jpg

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.

KIRYIENKA-Vasil001pp-e1443044163731-610x350

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.

 

 

Rio Olympics 2016 – Women’s Road Race

Rio Olympics 2016 – Women’s Road Race

*Same disclaimer as last time. Things should be back to normal for the TT previews!*

The Route

A shorter version of the men’s race, the women will only tackle the main climb once.

Rio+OIympic+Womens+Road+Race+2d.png

The climb is tough but not overly challenging, with the hardest part coming at the beginning. The more explosive climbers will hope to make a difference here. Like the men’s race, there is a fast descent followed by a stretch of flat road (around 9km) until the finish line on Copacabana beach.

You can view an interactive profile here.

How will the race pan out?

This race is all about the final climb. There is obviously a chance that a break could have formed itself beforehand and with the right riders (& nations) in it, stay away until the end. However, this is unlikely, it definitely won’t be the first break of the day that wins, that’s for sure!

Like the men’s race, the race will blow to bits on the final climb, with a solo rider maybe making it to the finish after cresting the summit alone. We equally could see a small bunch sprint, or a late attack on the flat sticking! I favour a small group making it to the line together.

Contenders

No better place to start than with the strongest squad here: Team USA. They have three potential winners with Evelyn Stevens, Megan Guarnier and Mara Abbott all with strong chances. Out of the three, I’d have Guarnier as favourite. She is the fastest of the three from a small group, and has been absolutely sensational this season: winning the Giro Rosa earlier in May. Abbott and Stevens will be fantastic lieutenants and have a great chance themselves. Abbott’s problem is that she is great at going up hill, just not down. Numbers will be very important for the squad, and they’ll be very attacking in the finale. I’ll be very shocked if the star-spangled banner isn’t on the podium at the end of the day!

evelyn stevens sets new hour record cycling

The Dutch have the next strongest team. Former World Champion Marianne Vos lines up for them. She’s still re-finding her feet in the peloton and is looking very strong, but I’m not sure that she’ll be climbing well enough to win here. Instead, they will probably look to Anna van der Breggen to bring home the Gold. She’s had a great year so far, winning Fleche and finishing on the podium at the Giro Rosa. Annemiek van Vleuten will be used as a satellite rider but can’t be underestimated herself!

Anna+van+der+Breggen+La+Fleche+Wallonne+2016+Jy7hfBYz4HGl
Fleche 2016

Italy’s chances of a medal will lie with Elisa Longo Borghini. The 24-year old has had a very consistent and solid season, and seems to be climbing better than ever. She’ll hope to be within touching distance at the top of the mountain and make her way back on during the descent. I think she’ll top 5.

Team GB…

elephant-in-the-room

Very intrigued to see how Armitstead goes here after everything that has happened this past week. She may respond brilliantly, but I’m not so confident. I also think there could be a “anyone but her” approach from some of the peloton. If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll already know my very strong views on her support riders. Not a fan of Pooley and the way she’s got into the team, but that’s a rant for another day! I don’t think we’ll see a GB podium finish here.

Katarzyna (Kasia) Niewiadoma has the weight of a nation on her young shoulders. The 21-year old comes into the Games with a great chance of picking up a medal for Poland. An excellent climber, she should be able to cope with the climb, it all depends how far back she is, if at all, once they summit. Youthful exuberance may get the better of her!

flechewallonne2016-niewiadoma

South African, Ashleigh Moolman, seems to be building form for the race nicely with good showings at the Aviva Women’s Tour and Thüringen Rundfahrt. On her day she can climb with the best, and should not be given too much of a gap!

Whereas, Germany will hope Claudia Lichtenberg has a great day. However, she’ll need to finish solo as she doesn’t have a great sprint on her.

Johansson (SWE), Neff (SUI), Ferrand Prevot (FRA) & Amialiusik (BLR) will hope to pull something off, but not being as strong on the climbs as some of the favourites, they’ll need a bit of luck to go their way. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great riders but on a pure climb I’m not sure how they’ll go.

One massive outsider I’m keen to mention, who was originally pointed out by Cyclepieces, is the Brazilian rider: Flavia Oliveira. She recently finished 2nd at the Tour de Pologne behind the aforementioned Neff so is evidently in great shape. I’m also factoring in the classic football theory, where World Cups in South America were won by South American teams. Same rules apply here? Furthermore, my interest in her has been exacerbated by a L’Equipe article that suggests Brazilians haven’t been drug tested for the majority of July, so yeah…

50876966

Prediction

I’ve had this rider in my mind for this race for a while, but to’d and fro’d whether to pick her. Trying to come up with other candidates and almost convincing myself otherwise. But now I’ve seen some sense and I’m confident that she’ll pick up the win here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 23.34.54

Coming off of the incredible season she’s had, I don’t think anyone can beat Megan Guarnier and she’ll be our Olympic Champion. Her climbing has been impeccable, she has a great sprint for a climber, but more importantly, she’ll have team-mates left at the end. The only way she doesn’t win this race, is if one of her team-mates does.

Megan-Guarnier-April-2016_Velofocus

Betting

Backing Guarnier straight up with 4.8pts at 11/2 (Sky & Coral), would take 5/1, or even 9/2.

Bit of a fun 0.1pt EW bet on Oliveira at 200/1 with PaddyPower, Ladbrokes or Betfair.

 

How do you think the race will pan out? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated! Normal, full service should resume for the TTs once I’m back from being on holiday. Hope you enjoy the race wherever you’re watching it from! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Rio Olympics 2016 – Men’s Road Race

Rio Olympics 2016 – Men’s Road Race

*Apologies again, as I’m holiday this will be “shorter” than normal, with more focus on candidates and potential winning outcomes*

The Route

A long day in the office, featuring a tough climb that they go over 3 times. It’s not the hardest climb in the world but it’s place in the race makes it more difficult.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 12.15.08

Again, there will be others who go over the route in more depth. If you want an interactive profile check out this one here.

How will the race pan out?

This race could well end up being a tactical mess and in some ways is a very tough race to call.

Due to the way that the numbers of riders are allocated, teams come here with varying squad sizes. The “big” nations of Belgium, Colombia, Great Britain, Italy & Spain all come here with 5 riders. The numbers then decrease depending on the nations UCI coefficient.

Having only 5 riders makes the race very tough to control, especially considering some teams have 2 leaders. Getting a rider into the break will mean that the rest of the team doesn’t work, but is it worth burning riders out early on?

Conversely, saving riders until the final 100km could well see your chance go if none of the opposition teams want to work with you.

It really comes down to the big teams to control the early moves;

  • Belgium have De Plus and possibly Pauwels as domestique.
  • Colombia don’t really have any domestiques as such. Maybe they’ll send Lopez into the break.
  • GB have Stannard and possibly Cummings.
  • Italy have Caruso an De Marchi for early on. With Rosa probably working later on.
  • Spain have Erviti and Castroviejo for early in the day, with Izagirre being the go-to rider late on.

The Italians and Spaniards like usual have teams perfectly set up for these types of races that mimic the World Championships. Out of all the teams, they’ll probably be the key to controlling the break and setting up the “expected” GC-style blow-out on the final climbs.

The rest of the teams will probably hedge their chances by trying to send a rider into the early break, leaving their strongest climbers with the peloton, i.e. Portugal might choose to have Nelson Oliveira up the road with Costa left behind.

It’s also important to consider the length of the course, so look to long stages in the Grand Tours/Classics/World Champs for riders who can last the distance.

The Potential winners

Like the San Sebastian preview, I’m going to go through in team order.

Belgium have two potential winners in their squad. GVA has shown at the Tour that he is climbing very well, he should be able to cope with the climbs if the pace isn’t too high. The flat run in is great for him, as it could bring the race back together.

5184

Philippe Gilbert will be hopeful here, but I can’t see him recording a win here. I think GVA is better in every possible outcome where Gilbert could potentially win. Instead, Tim Wellens will add another dimension to the Belgian squad. He will be used as the long-range attacker and could well manage to steal the day. Furthermore, if he makes it over the final climb in the front group, he could attack then to draw out the other nations.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 13.56.50
TW interview with the Lotto Soudal team.

Reading between the lines, Wellens seems to think that the route is manageable for riders like him, possibly the Ardennes types. Again though, I can imagine this is dependant on the pace and attitude of the peloton!

Colombia’s whole squad could potentially win this in the right situation. They have to be very aggressive and force some kind of selection and I can see them being very attacking throughout the day. It will be an all or nothing approach for them. I would love to see Esteban Chaves go well here (I have a soft-spot for the Smiling Assassin). He’s been away in Colombia preparing for the Vuelta so is a bit of an unknown quantity, but like others, I think he’ll be going well.

Team GB come here with the Tour winner, Froome in their ranks. The Brit has never been great in one-day classics. In fact, he’s notoriously a DNF merchant. However, if there was ever a race and a year that he could complete and go well in, it would be this one. If he’s on the same form that he was at the Tour, he could ride away from everyone on the climb and TT his way to the finish.

WATSON_00004681-021-630x425

Thomas is probably the next best option for the squad, as Yates seems to be tired after his efforts at the Tour.

Italy will turn to Nibali and Aru. I’m not sure I can see Nibali winning this. He won’t rider away from everyone on the climb and his sprint isn’t the best from a group. I think Aru actually has more of a chance in theory, mainly because he won’t be considered as much of a threat compared to Nibali. The question is if he’s recovered from his implosion at the end of the Tour? Rosa will be the rider to mark attacks and potentially profit from it himself.

Spain come with their ever-present conundrum over the past few years; Valverde or Rodriguez? There is a lot of bad blood between those two and that could be the cause of their demise. Izagirre will be the key for them (Valverde). With 4 Movistar riders in the squad, I think it’s clear who they’ll be backing, with Rodriguez maybe having to fly solo. I can’t really back either of them with great confidence.

Away from the big teams there are several other GC riders who can compete; Poels & Mollema (NED), Bardet (FRA), Costa (POR), Martin (IRE). Any of these riders on their day could win here. I’d fancy Poels and Bardet over the rest of them, I really rate both of their chances and a podium is a very achievable target!

Some of the riders from smaller nations could play a big part in the outcome here. Looking at those who can last the distance (WCs from previous years), there are three riders who I like as big, big outsiders.

First up is Andrey Amador.

16amadorhiguito-990x505

The Costa Rican had a great Giro, wearing the Maglia Rosa. He should be able to cope with the climbs (especially if it’s not as tough as expected), but as the only representative from his nation, he’ll more than likely have to attack to win. At the Giro he put a show on with his great descending skills, they could be invaluable here!

TanelKangert could well pull off a wonderful victory here.

bettiniphoto_0243191_1_originali_670

The Estonian had a very solid Tour in support of Aru, after being a key domestique for Nibali at the Giro. This will more than likely be his last big race for a while before a period of rest, so he’ll be giving it his all. He has the speed to win from a small group, but won’t be afraid to attack and catch the favourites off guard. The distance won’t be a problem to him.

The final rider is one that I have already mentioned; Nelson Oliveira.

573740219

He’ll be used as a ploy from Costa to draw others to chase, but the move might just stick. A rider who can cope with the distance, he can use his TTing ability to distance the field on the descent and final run in. If he has a gap of 20 seconds going into the flat section the race is over!

 

Prediction

A race with several potential outcomes, I hope it lives up to its potential! As for who can win it? We may well see a surprise winner, but I really like the chances of Romain Bardet. He’s just came off his best ever Tour finish and will be brimming with confidence. He can manage the distance well and will hope to attack on the final climb and grow the gap on the descent, and hope for a lack of cohesion behind. If not, he’ll try a late-attack (he’s a fearless rider) or will rely on a solid sprint.

Romain bardet

Betting

I have a few small ante-post bets from a while back (Chaves, Aru, Bardet and Poels).

However, I’m going to re-back Bardet more heavily. I really liked what I saw at the Tour. Along with my 3 long, long shots!

Bardet 0.7pt EW at 33/1 with Coral or Betfred (I’d take down to 25/1, 22 at the lowest).

Amador 0.1pt EW at 200/1 (widely available)

Kangert 0.1pt EW at 250/1 with Ladbrokes (paying 4 places), I’d take the 200/1 with Coral.

Oliveira 0.1pt EW 300/1 with Bet365 or SkyBet

 

Hope you all enjoyed this “shorter” but long preview! Who do you think will win? Any feedback is appreciated as normal! I should hopefully have a women’s RR preview out tomorrow, if I can find the time to do it. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.