OVO Women’s Tour 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Atherstone -> Royal Leamington Spa

Today’s Recap

A day that was attacking from the gun, we had several breaks up the road throughout the day, with the peloton splintering behind. It looked for a while as if Lucinda Brand was going to hold on, but she was reeled in with 5km to go and we ended up with a reduced bunch sprint.

Boels’ Dolmans Amy Pieters came away victorious ahead of Hannah Barnes and Ellen van Dijk.

DBzyttuW0AE3Rmp

Niewiadoma still holds onto her comfortable lead, but Barnes now moves into third place on GC.

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

The Route

A similar profile to the one we had today although a bit more rolling towards the end of the stage.

OVO Women's Tour Stage 3 (3)

Here’s a link to the interactive version of the profile.

 

 

 

Not much to speak of in the first 2/3rds of the stage, with a few uncategorised hills to contend with. That being said, the last rise before we get our categorised climbs is 3.3km long and averages 3.4%. I think it’s a bit harsh to be uncategorised!

The focal point of the stage will be the two Category-2 climbs that the riders will cover in quick succession.

Edge Hill is long enough and steep enough in some sections to cause splits in the peloton. The pace will then continue to be on once over the top and they hed towards Burton Dassett. Slightly shorter, but steeper in gradient, I think we could see what’s left of the peloton quickly disintegrate on this climb.

One of the reasons I say that is due to the length of the stage. Some women’s races are roughly 100km long, but the riders will have already covered almost 130km when they reach the bottom of the climb. Fatigue will play a big part in this stage, especially when you consider how attacking today was.

The one saving grace for those hoping for a bunch sprint of some sort is the 27km from the summit to the finish line to organise a chase.

We do have some small rises in the closing 10km of only roughly 1km and ~1.5% but they can’t be underestimated after a long and tough day in the saddle!

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 20.18.32

As for the finish itself it is very straight forward apart from one tight rind hand turn at roughly 500m to go. Other than that, the rest of the run in is “sweeping” and the riders should be able to go full gas!

How will the stage pan out?

We should see another attacking day out and there is the possibility that a breakaway makes it all the way to the line.

There are several quality riders far enough down on GC who can finish off a stage like this if they are given some freedom. However, with WM3 looking quite weak today aside from their GC leader and Vos, I think other teams will be looking to expose them over the final 35km.

Much like yesterday, I think we’ll either see a very reduced bunch sprint or a late attack sticking.

Once again, I’ll go for the latter!

Contenders

Should I jumps ship from the three riders I named yesterday?!

I’ll name two of the same, but change one as Audrey Cordon seems more focussed on the QOM jersey rather than anything else.

Shara Gillow.

capture_5 (1)

The former Aussie TT champion was in the mix today but was actually caught out in a split in the bunch, losing a few seconds on GC. She is an attacking rider and could well use one of those small rises in the final 10km to her advantage, pealing off the front of the bunch and staying clear to the line. She’ll need to do that as she doesn’t have much of a sprint! My other season long fantasy rider (Pieters) won today, can Gillow repeat that feat tomorrow?

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.

The young Dane has been attentive so far this race, finishing near the front of the bunch on both stage so far. With a lot of the other riders concerned with her team-mate Moolman, she may use that to her advantage and escape. Packing a solid sprint, she could also win in a two or three rider gallop to the line. Will her inexperience cost her?

Katie Archibald.

katie-archibald-and-lydia-boylan

It’s nice to be able to list a fellow Scot as a stage contender for once! The track star has been slowly turning her attention to the road and has picked up some fairly solid results so far this season. Her abilities as an all-rounder seem to be improving and I think she could definitely surprise.

Prediction

I’ll hedge my bets and go with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who could get involved in both a reduced sprint and a late breakaway!

1489943561_cecilie_uttrup_ludwig

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

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

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.

C-mTpk-XkAEJlRR

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!

tour-de-yorkshire-2017-stage-3-1480680029

tour-de-yorkshire-2017-stage-3-1480679972

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 13.51.50
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…

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 14.05.30

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!

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 14.21.47
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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 14.42.06

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… 馃槣

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

Brent Bookwalter.

bookwalter-wins

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聽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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

632050348_670

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 Romandie 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Payerne -> Payerne

Today’s Recap

All hail King K眉ng!

C-bt5W0XoAE4x-M

The young Swiss rider took a great win in grizzly conditions as he and his fellow breakee Grivko managed to beat the bunch on the run in to Bulle. Potentially helped by a questionably late gel, the BMC rider held off the Astana man in what seemed a slow motioned sprint.

Behind, Colbrelli crossed the line first to round out the days podium.

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

The Route

Another rolling day out in the saddle for the riders, with a reasonable amount of climbing. With a flat finish will it end in a sprint this time?

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 14.02.48
@LasterketaBurua

You can view an interactive profile of the stage here.

The majority of the climbing comes in the middle part of the day but there is nothing too serious for the peloton to contend with. They crest the final GPM 聽at 28km to go and the rest of the stage is made up of shallow descents, false flat, and flat!

There is a roundabout at roughly 2km to go, but aside from that the finish is incredibly easy and not technical at all.

I’m sure the riders will be glad to here that the weather is looking better as well, with the majority of the rain coming in the morning, not the afternoon.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 14.19.33
Source: Wunderground

Although that was what was forecasted for today and yeah…it wasn’t exactly dry in the afternoon…

So don’t trust any forecast for around here!

How will the stage pan out?

Originally, I had thought that with today’s stage ending in a sprint that tomorrow might be a day for the break. But with the shock result from this afternoon, I’m unsure as to how it might go tomorrow.

We saw today that a lot of the teams were unwilling to commit 100% to the chase in grim weather. Will that change for tomorrow?

I’m not so sure.

So I’ll stick to my original guns and say that tomorrow is another breakaway day.

Nestle Breakaway Milk Chocolate Biscuit 8 Pack 152G

With the two tough GC days ahead, I’m sure a lot of riders will just want to get around safely and we’ll see a relatively large group with a fair few teams represented get up the road.

Break Candidates

Normally I would say that a rider would have to be over 2 minutes behind聽at this point for them to聽be allowed to stay away. However, Trek have been pretty poor this week at chasing down the break and they lost another domestique (Hernandez) in today’s stage so they’ll have even less firepower.

Therefore someone who is relatively close could escape if they are deemed to not stand a chance the following two days. Consequently, this makes selecting some breakaway riders even more of a lottery!

I’ll give it a go though…

Daniel Oss.

The guitar聽playing BMC man hasn’t featured at the front of the race yet which is a bit surprising as he loves a breakaway. A strong rouleur he should be able to power over the climbs tomorrow. The Swiss outfit don’t have a proper sprinter as such so they’ll look to get a rider up the road again and Oss fits that bill perfectly. Maybe he’ll want a hit out before going to the Giro?

Alex Dowsett.

British Cycling National Road Championships Stockton

A strong second place on the opening day highlights that Dowsett is in reasonable shape. He managed to hold聽on to the peloton much longer than I expected on Stage 1 but he eventually succumbed and lost almost 5 minutes.聽Like BMC, Movistar don’t have a proper sprinter with them so I imagine they’ll want to stretch their legs tomorrow. Dowsett could well be that man!

Alexander Edmondson.

After his fourth聽place finish today to follow up his third in the prologue, the young Aussie will be brimming with confidence. Down on GC after stage 1, he or Sam Bewley are Orica’s two cards to play for the break as they shouldn’t be chased. Getting a man up the road will be important for them because a lot of teams were looking at them today to do some work for Albasini. Of course, if they have a rider in the break, they don’t have to! We saw today he has a fast sprint, so might well fancy his chances at another podium finish.

I was going to think of another rider to name but I’ll just leave it at that. After today’s stage, tomorrow doesn’t really grip my attention that much and I’m looking forward to the opener in Yorkshire instead!

Prediction

A break stays away with a few of the sprinters teams represented and Trek unwilling to chase all day.

Oss to *ahem* boss it and win!

Amgen Tour of California, 2015

Betting

Small stakes on the breakers. Not having a great time of it at the moment and my confidence is shook! Although Edmondson is awful odds, I mean Oss is borderline but the Aussie is too short after his sprint today so he’ll be replaced with someone else I like…

0.5pt WIN Oss @ 33/1 with Bet365

0.3pt WIN Dowsett @ 80/1聽

0.2pt WIN Campenaerts @ 100/1

 

Anyway, thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it be a sprint or will the break stay away?

 

Tour of the Alps 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Villabassa -> Funes

Another brief preview as this is the third of the day and even though I love cycling, I’m slowly losing the will to live writing this one. Plus, with one route change already, who knows if there might be another tomorrow!

Today’s Recap

Heavy snow fall meant the race was shortened by 60km which may have had an impact on the outcome of the stage at the end of the day. Either way, I was hopelessly wrong again which isn’t good. I haven’t got to grips with this race yet and I don’t like it!

Dennis powered his way home ahead of Pinot and a very impressive ride from Ballerini who got up for third.

66062_dennis_trentin

A total of 67 riders finished on the same time as our Aussie winner, which is definitely a lot less selective than I thought it would be.

Swiftly moving on to tomorrow!

The Route

The original route has already聽been changed once due to snow and that might happen again tomorrow morning!

C9tYYGsUwAAKt0f

They’ve taken out the big climb at the start of the day but we still have the long and steep Alpe Rodengo Zumis to tackle, which crests at just under 40km to go.

C9tfYAjXsAA2lOd

A very tough climb and it will be freezing at the top of it! I wonder if any teams will risk taking up the pace this early?

Once over the summit, we have a long descent followed by around 25km of valley roads before reaching the foot slopes of the final climb of the day.

C9tfYdUWsAEfltP

Another tough climb, although easier than the previous Alp in the day, the gradients are severe enough for some big time gaps. Especially when you consider the conditions look set to be pretty grim, with a good chance of rain/snow throughout the afternoon.

Contenders

GC day so only the best can compete here;

Scarponi v Pinot v Thomas v Pozzovivo聽v Dennis聽v Formolo.

The last rider on that list, Formolo, seems to be the weakest going by form at the moment so I’ll discount him.

Dennis was good today but I’m still not convinced by him on long climbs and the 8.7km test to finish tomorrow is right on his limit. So…

its a no

That leaves us with 4.

I had discounted Pozzovivo at the start of the race, because if I’m honest, I think he’s past his big performances and has never really looked the same after his horror crash in the Giro. However, he looked good on stage 1 but there is a difference between a 3km climb and an almost 9km effort. So he’s out as well!

A fine trio remain.

Scarponi surprised everyone on Stage 1 taking a great sprint win. On that climb he looked composed and relatively comfortable on a stage that really shouldn’t have suited him. The longer efforts are more his forte and he should appreciate tomorrow’s slog to the line.

Pinot聽was a bit out of position at the start of the climb on stage 1 but slowly made his way back to the attackers, eventually finishing. He then went and improved on that today with a good second place and that trajectory could well continue tomorrow! On a finish like this and in this field, he is probably the rider with the best pedigree.

Thomas聽will be hoping to change that over the coming weeks though. He has been incredible so far this year and I’m convinced he can podium at the Giro. Strong on stage 1, he just didn’t have enough in the tank to drop everyone. A longer climb may help him fatigue the others before putting in a stinging attack.

Prediction

I’ll go for a Pinot win.

f316c

Just like his聽namesake wine, the Frenchman is much better when chilled.

Betting

No bet. Odds too tight聽and the risk of another route change is too high.

Apologies again for this being short, but with the two other previews today, this one was always going to take a hit. Nonetheless, who do you think will win tomorrow’s stage? We might even see another route change in the morning. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Pais Vasco 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Gasteiz -> Donostia

Today’s Recap

A really dull day which was good because it meant I could get my Scheldeprijs preview finished while it was on!

The slow day resulted in the final kicker being a non-event and we got a very high-speed sprint. Typically it was聽Albasini聽who was sprinting for Orica today and he took out the win. I should have stuck to my guns and not jumped ship, but oh well!

C8lSOWWXkAAozSd

Richeze and DeBie聽rounded out the podium. It’s been a fairly boring race so far and very unlike a normal Pais Vasco, but hopefully that changes tomorrow as the terrain gets more lumpy. Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

After two days of fairly benign routes, we get a stage that is typically Basque.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 17.44.29
@LasterketaBurua

With 6 categorised climbs it will be a very tough day out in the saddle. There are some discrepancies between the official profile and the one I’m using above, but I trust the gradients of the guys at @LasterketaBurua more than I do聽those, that the organisers provide!

I’ll discount the first three climbs of the day because they come too far from the finish to be of any major concern.

The next two climbs aren’t too difficult either to be honest and will probably be the scene of a gradual rise in pace within the peloton, as those on a bad day get dropped. However, I think we could see the likes of Movistar start to put the pressure on towards the summit of Andazarrate climb and we might get a rather reduced peloton as we descend gradually towards the final climb of the day.

Mendizorrotz2

The graphic above is from Altimetrias.net but is for the full Mendizorrotz climb. The route tomorrow will tail off just after the Venta de Orio. As you can see, it’s a short but fairly steep climb, averaging 6.2% for the 5km. However, there is a kilometre that averages 8.1% and ramps of 13% and 14% in some parts. A stinging attack here could certainly make a difference.

We then get a bit of false flat before the descent to Donostia (San Sebastian) begins. The descent will be fast but the 3km of flat at the end of it might discourage some聽riders from trying to go solo.

If we do get a regrouping expect attacks to be flying from all over the place on the run in, which itself does not suit any type of bunch kick.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 19.11.06

Two 90-degree turns in the last kilometre and a little chicane should be exciting viewing but a very manic end of the day for the riders.

How will the stage pan out?

When I originally looked at this stage I thought it might be one for the puncheurs, someone along the likes of Bilbao.聽I had a whole bit planned linking to a tweet on how he has recon-ed this stage etc, but the more I think about it (never a good thing!) the more I lean towards this being an even more selective day than I originally thought.

That final climb is tough, especially the opening 4kms and if they race up it at pace like I expect Movistar to, then not many will be left near the front over the top. Only a group of 30 riders at most may be in contact over the top and therefore in with a chance of a win.

I don’t think the likes of Gerrans will get over the climb in contention.

Now the next question is, do Movistar go at such a pace to deter attacks on the climb? Or do we see them go hard but then stop so Valverde can attack?

With no bonus seconds on the line, a group of favourites might be more inclined to work with Valverde to gain an advantage over other GC contenders. Then again, they might not bother!

If we do get a regrouping will a team have enough riders to control the small bunch, or will a late attack stick?

I think the latter…

Late Attackers

Alaphilippe looks like an ideal candidate for this as he should be at the front of the peloton over the climb and is no longer a GC threat. With a fast sprint he could even challenge Valverde in a small group. Will he be as short odds as I think and thus put me off of him? Probably!

WATSON_00004610-003-630x419

There are two GC riders who I want to mention that have a chance of going well on this stage in my opinion.

Simon Yates.

The recent winner of the GP Indurain and a stage in Paris Nice, the young Brit is certainly going well just now. He should be able to cope with the short climbs in the area competently and as we have witnessed over the past few weeks, isn’t afraid of an attack from reasonably far out. He descended like a stone in Paris Nice and could certainly maintain a gap if the others sit up and have an argument about who’s going to chase behind. He’s my rider for a more long-range attack at the top of the climb!

George Bennett.

05-06-2016 Criterium Du Dauphine Libere; Tappa Prologo Les Gets; 2016, Lotto Nl - Jumbo; Bennett, George; Les Gets;

The Kiwi is my “he’s not a threat” late attack option. He was climbing well in Catalunya and would expect to make it over the last climb with the peloton. During that race he was quite lively at times, putting in a few probing attacks. In a group of around 20 or so at the end, he has a good a chance as anyone to make an attack that sticks!

Prediction

I think Movistar attack the day hard and we get a selective GC day and I’ll go for the descending stone that is Simon Yates to take the win!

FOTO-4031-630x422

Betting

1.25pt EW聽Yates @28/1 with Bet365

0.5pt EW Contador @100/1 with Bet365 (far too big a price for a selective day)

0.25pt EW Bennett @300/1 with Bet365.

 

Thanks for reading as always and apologies that this is a bit more rushed than my Scheldeprijs preview. How do you think tomorrow will play out? Will it be as selective as I think? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Volta Catalunya 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Matar贸 -> La Molina

*Apologies – this preview will be short and sweet as I myself am short of time having to do two write-ups聽this evening. Normal service shall resume tomorrow!*

Today’s Recap

A charging Movistar won the stage by 2 seconds ahead of BMC, with Team Sky finishing in third.

C7dTpG-V4AAxNUA

However, the BMC riders were not happy with some of the Movistar riders pushing their team-mates and started a trial by social media. For some strange reason, only a few of the Movistar riders were punished by the commissaries, not the whole team. Either way, it’s a farcical end of the day to a fairly dull and uninspiring stage. Moving swiftly on to tomorrow!

The Route

A day back loaded with climbing. Credit for the route profile once again goes to @LasterketaBurua.

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 17.49.58

It’s the exact same finish to the third stage from last year.

The two cat-1 ascents before the finishing climb will certainly tire the legs but I can’t see them being overly demanded for the peloton. Unless of course a team were to come to the front and set a really tough tempo.

As you can see in the above video from last year, time gaps will be minimal at the end of the stage if we don’t get a team take it up from far out.

The finish isn’t that difficult and suits the punchy climbers such as Dan Martin and Valverde.

How will the day pan out?

We could well see a break make it all the way. There are already sufficient gaps on GC to聽some聽good enough climbers far down on the standings for them to get away and not be a threat.

Movistar are traditionally hapless at chasing down breakaways when you think they would be nailed on to, so I wouldn’t trust them 100% to close it down for stage favourite Valverde. They’ll be hoping the likes of Sky, Trek and BMC help, but after today’s farce, I’m fairly certain the American team won’t be lending a hand!

Possible breakees include Weening, De Gendt (who won the Queen Stage from a break here last year), Navarro and Geniez.

thomas-de-gendt-cycling-volta-a-catalunya_3436876

In the Peloton

If we do get the more likely option of a GC battle on the mountain then look towards those further down in the order to be given a bit of leeway when they attack.

There are plenty of high quality riders that are 2 mins down that won’t be given a second look if they make a move.

Last year’s winner聽Dan Martin聽is one of those. The Irishman seems to be in very good form just now, picking up a 3rd on GC in Paris Nice. This finish climb is tailor-made for him and I would be surprised to not see him on the podium at the end of the day.

Cycling: 96th Volta Catalunya 2016 / Stage 3

Romain Bardet聽will be looking to make amends after his disqualification in Paris Nice. The Frenchman is quite a punchy climber with a decent uphill sprint so could challenge here. He certainly has no fear when attacking! Pierre Latour gives AG2R another option, he looked good in the Queen Stage at PN.

Ilnur Zakarin聽will want to repeat his dogged sprint that saw him beat Thomas in PN last year. The finish on that day reminds me of this one. The Russian is certainly a sight to behold when gunning for the line.

Rafal Majka聽could give it a nudge but he had a fairly poor Tirreno so his form might not be there yet.

I’m intrigued to see how Jakob Fuglsang goes. The Dane has had a quiet season so far but has been there or thereabouts, can he go better here?

Any of the Cannondale climbers could be there but they’ve had an awful start to the year and I would even avoid them with a ten-foot barge pole.

Prediction

I wouldn’t trust Movistar to chase the break, but I do think Sky and Trek will eventually lend a hand and we should see a GC winner. I’ll go for someone further down the order to slip away, Romain Bardet to win.

WATSON_00004245-001-630x420

Betting

Could and maybe should be a no bet day, but that’d be boring. Although after my past few weeks, back with caution. 馃槈馃槀

Bardet 1pt WIN @22/1 with Betfair/PP

plus a handful of breakers (0.125pt WIN each all Betfair)

Weening @ 250/1

De Gendt @ 500/1

Geniez @ 80/1

Navarro @ 150/1

Thanks for reading and apologies for the shorter preview. How do you think tomorrow will play out? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Tirreno Adriatico 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Monterotondo Marittimo -> Montalto di Castro

Today’s Recap

Right idea, wrong Sky rider!

C6fMH4wWYAA3yWT

It was Geraint Thomas who managed to solo to the line, after we had a flurry of attacks at the front of the bunch in the closing 10km. The Welshman did look very strong and it could be a case of what might have been for him this week.

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

The Route

Another 200km plus day in the saddle for the riders, good training for MSR at least!

T02_Cascina_alt

One of the few chances the sprinters will get in this race, so I imagine that’s what we’ll see. There are some tricky hills out there but I expect it to come back together for a bunch kick.

Therefore, it’s all about the closing kilometres tomorrow and the overall profile is a slightly deceptive one! If you just had a quick glance at the image above, you would be forgiven if you didn’t notice the little kick at the end.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 16.25.36

With the final 750m averaging 3.5%, it’s certainly not a straightforward sprint.

Throw in a few sweeping turns and things get a bit hectic.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 16.29.18

So positioning will have to be important but also the timing of the effort will be key as well.

Contenders

For a finish like this, Peter Sagan has to start as the favourite. The Wold Champion should cope easily with the sweeping nature of the last 1km, but the rise at the end of the stage shouldn’t be an issue to him either. After sprinting to third place today, he seems to have recovered from his sickness that saw him DNF Strade. Can anyone beat him in an uphill drag?

I’m sure Greg Van Avermaet would be offended if I said no! This type of finish looks great for the Belgian rider who is in exceptional form at the moment, which will be a concern for other riders as he will only get better going into April. He’ll be able to rely on a strong lead-out and he certainly has a great chance of winning the stage.

ZEN_2329-1024x683

Dimension Data have a couple of options here but this finish will be right on the limit of Mark Cavendish so instead I imagine it will be Edvald Boasson Hagen that they will be working for. The Norwegian is in fairly good form at the moment, building himself up towards the classics. This type of power sprint really suits him and he’ll be hoping for a good result looking ahead to the rest of the Classics.

With no proper sprinter to speak of here, Trek will most likely turn to Fabio Felline as their main charge for this stage. After a disappointing performance today, I’m sure he’ll want to bounce back and bag a good result tomorrow. Not a slouch in a tough sprint, I image that he’ll want the racing to be hard to tire the legs of his contenders.

A team that do have a proper sprinter with them are Quick-Step and they bring young Colombian sensation Fernando Gaviria to the party. Touted as the “New Sagan” by some, there currently seems to be no ends to his talents whether that be sprinter or classics man. He was up there for a long time on today’s stage, doing a bit of work for Jungels, so he seems to be climbing well. I think he will surprise some tomorrow!

Francesco Gavazzi聽certainly surprised me today with his 5th place finish, I thought the finale would be too hard for him, preferring tomorrow’s stage. Therefore, if he went well today, he has a chance of equalling or bettering that result tomorrow! A rider much like everyone else listed, he packs a fast kick聽on a testy finish. Without a win yet this season, he’s finished in the top 10 of all of his one-day races so far, which isn’t a bad record. Another top 10 should be a certainty here, but can he go better?!

16gavazziportugal2-990x528

Jens Debuscherre聽might fancy his chances of maintaining contact with the head of the peloton on this finish. Much more than a fast finisher, he is a rider in the mould of EBH and Sagan. After a disappointing crash in Omloop, he’s picked himself up with a top 10 in West Vlaanderen midweek. It might be tough, but he’s not one to discount.

Old fox Daniele Bennati聽might just have a run at it tomorrow. He’s the fastest on his squad and the tougher finish will bring him closer to the likes of Sagan and co. It will still be a tall order for the win but a top 10 is possible.

Likewise,聽Oscar Gatto might like the look of the finish. The Astana rider had a very solid Omloop and is clearly in reasonable shape at the moment. One to keep an eye out for but again, a top 10 would be a good result.

With Caleb Ewan abandoning the race, Orica will probably turn to Luka Mezgec or Daryl Impey. Both present a good option for a top 10 finish.

I think the climb will be too tough for the likes of Viviani etc.

Prediction

The new Sagan beats Sagan. Fernando Gaviria to take a brilliant win!

WATSON_00004426-002-e1453245258472-630x420

With Gavazzi springing a surprise in the chaos and sneaking聽a podium and GVA in there as well.

Betting

 

Would back Gaviria but not at that price so GVA actually becomes the value bet.

1pt EW GVA @50/1 with Bet365 (would take down to 25/1)

0.25pt EW Gavazzi @ 80/1 with Bet365

Thanks again for reading, I shall be back again tomorrow with another preview double-header. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Paris Nice 2017 Stage 3 Preview; Chablis -> Chalon-sur-Sa么ne

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 D茅mare.

c6pyd8xwaaa4uip

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.

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-16-14-26

The C么te de Grandmont is 2.4km at 4.9%, with the C么te 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.

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-16-22-04

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

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-16-37-36

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聽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? 聽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?聽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.

lutshenko

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!

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 18.29.46
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.

632050348_670

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聽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!

bettiniphoto_0261225_1_2000px_670

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.

 

 

Dubai Tour Stage 3 Preview; Dubai -> Al Aqah

Today’s Recap

Another stage and another win for Kittel!

aa8d13a0e10b56a104ead7e7b79013ac

Although it wasn’t all plain sailing for the German as he seemed to lose the wheel of his lead-out at around 1.4km to go. However, he was brought back up expertly by one of his team-mates (not sure who!), heading into the closing 500m. He still had a lot do, but proved his power with a very strong late surge, winning relatively comfortably in the end by around a bike-length.聽Groenewegen聽held on for 2nd with a fast, and very low Mareczko聽pipping Degenkolb to the line in third place.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-12-43-41
Mareczko trying his best Ewan impression

Will Kittel make it a hat-trick tomorrow? Let’s have a look…

The Route

Another pan flat day, but we travel from coast to coast, west to east and to a new finishing town of Al Aqah.

dubai-tour-2017_s03_plan

I’ll touch on the desert and the coast in a moment, but the finish itself will be similar today with a sweeping final couple of kilometres. It appears that the race finishes just before a roundabout so it won’t be as messy as it could be, however, it will be fast as the last km is mainly a shallow descent聽before a slight rise up to the finish again.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-15-17-40
Last 2km profile

Now onto the slightly more exciting bit…

Wind Watch

The section across the desert is an open and exposed highway, the perfect playground for some teams to split the race up in the wind. Taking the average estimated speed from the race itinerary聽the riders will be in the area at roughly 13:00 local time.

The forecast for Al Malahia (near Jebel Fayah) at that time (source Windfinder) looks like the following.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-16-37-23

A strong tail-wind is all but guaranteed. However, there is a good chance it may turn into a cross-tailwind and that could be dangerous for the peloton. It will mean extremely fast and nervous racing which in turn could increase the likelihood of splits as riders jockey for position or there are an unfortunate touch of wheels. The section just after Al Malahia and before they turn off that road to go through the hills, looks one particular area where echelons can be formed.

Along the coast, we are also set to get strong winds. Now, it could be argued that the hills nearby will weaken the winds but I would imagine that the forecasts for these areas consider that already!

Khor Fakkan is roughly half-way between聽Fujairah, where the start going up the coast, to the finish. They’re expected to reach the town at roughly 15:00 local time, with the forecast set to look like the following.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-17-33-47

I will be very surprised if we don’t see some type of echelons along the coast tomorrow.

How will the race pan out?

As a viewing spectacle I most certainly hope we get some crosswind action and I am fairly confident it will happen. The riders have enjoyed聽a couple of relaxing days so far but are fully aware that things are about to get grippy…

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-19-36-51

In what way will this affect the race? I’m not so sure. As I alluded聽to in my GC preview, the sprinters tend to be the riders who cope well in tough conditions. So it will be tough to drop them. Not impossible, but tough!聽Quickstep and Kittel have looked very strong so is the obvious pick if the bunch does stick together.

Nonetheless I think it will be a messy stage tomorrow so can’t confidently pick a sprinter. Back to my usual self, I will name a few outsiders who might聽be there聽if聽things get wild.

Gianni Moscon.

att00002_670.jpg

The Italian is Sky’s GC man for this race but for him to contend the overall then they need to gain time on Kittel somewhere other than on the Hatta stage. Tomorrow could be that opportunity. They lack their proper classics talent, but Knees and Golas are two very strong riders in tough conditions so will be able to look after Moscon well and attempt to force some echelons. Moscon himself is an incredible talent and a great all-rounder. If there are no sprinters left in the front group he could win from a sprint or put in a stinging attack.

Andy Fenn.

Former Sky rider, the Scot has spent the past few years in the shadows, happily putting in great work for his team-mates in the Classics. He’s a very strong rider, and his move to Aqua Blue sees him step out of those shadows and into more leadership roles. Blythe will be their number one go to guy here, but Fenn is a solid sprinter himself after a tough day. If he manages to infiltrate the front group then he has every chance in the dash to the line.

Loic Vliegen.

vliegen-soffre-la-derniere-etape-delfosse-le-general

BMC have been very active this race so far, sending riders in the break to get bonus seconds. I think they know that it will be tough to beat Kittel on GC if things stick to the status quo and they make the race easy for him. Therefore, I think they’ll be one of the first teams to try to animate things tomorrow in the wind. Vliegen is another great young talent but his speciality seems to lie in one-day racing. He was 4th in the ridiculously windy Le Samyn last year but can also climb relatively well too – 9th at Amstel highlights that. If the conditions are right, he could spring a surprise and become a real GC wildcard going into Hatta.

I really wanted to include Jungels in this, he’s been incredibly strong on the front the past few days. However, considering he rolled home 42 seconds down today, he’ll definitely be on team work duty tomorrow. The long-shot GC dream is over for him 馃槩

Prediction

Kittel will probably win again, but as I said picked聽yesterday I’ll go for one of my outsiders.

Oan yersel Andy!

Trofeo Mallorca - Stage Two

Betting

Good luck if you’re backing Marcel! I’ll be taking small punts on my 3 outsiders and a few H2H;

0.1pt EW Fenn @ 300/1 with Betfair or PP (would take 200/1 lowest)

0.1pt EW Moscon @ 250/1 with Bet365 (would take 150/1)

0.1pt EW Vliegen @ 300/1 with Betfair/PP聽(would take 200/1)

H2H bets;

Vliegen > Gerts @6/5 with Bet365. 1.2pts

Both have finished ahead of each other once so far, in and around the top 20. Would think Vliegen has more of a chance tomorrow.

Fenn聽> De Kort @ 8/11 with Bet365. 1.5pts

Both on lead-out duties, 1-1 so far. Like above, I think Fenn will suit聽the conditions better.

Vliegen and Fenn double at 9/5 with Bet365. 0.7pts

*UPDATE – Wanted another QuickStep rider before but the one I wanted was too short odds. However, it’s been pointed out that he’s available聽at 150/1 with Coral; 0.25pt EW Trentin.*

 

Thanks again for reading, bit longer today! How do you think tomorrow will play out? Any chance of crosswinds or will we get another sprint? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth

 

 

Tour Down Under Stage 3 Preview; Glenelg -> Victor Harbor

Today’s Recap

“I think something similar is likely to happen here and unless someone puts in a massive attack the favourites may well mark each other out of the race”

That’s what I wrote in my Stage 2 preview and boy did Porte put in a massive attack! He rode everyone off his wheel and took a very impressive victory. That’s the GC over now for 1st place barring any accident or misfortune but the rest of the podium is still up for grabs on Willunga.

skysports-richie-porte-tour-down-under-bmc-racing_3872495

From a punting perspective we had no stage winner again, but the H2H double came in to cover the day. Hopefully that will be a recurring theme this year when more often than not my outside pick doesn’t win!

Anyway, moving on to Stage 3 and what the riders can expect to face.

The Route

A little bit lumpy but it’s no stage 2!

Link to Strava profile

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-15-09-59

The tougher climbs come too early in聽the stage to be of any issue聽so it will be the circuit around Victor Harbor that decides the day.

Strava profile of Victor Harbor Circuit

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-19-30-19

 

I did say in my GC preview when highlighting this stage that the first climb was 1.7km at 2.5%. However, that goes to the second peak, which flattens the gradient out a bit and it included some false flat. Using the profile above the main bulk of the climb is actually closer to 800m at 5.25%.聽This still shouldn’t be too bad for the pro sprinters but it depends on how the peloton attacks it.

Again, I suggested the second climb was 1.3km at 3.7% but it is closer to 1.1km at 4.36%, with the final 300m averaging closer to 7%. Not a massive difference but that 300m section does look like a great launchpad for an attack!

Apologies for the slightly incorrect information beforehand but I didn’t have the time to make a profile of the circuit on its own until now. Anyway, something needs to be kept for these previews, right?! 馃槈

The run-in to the line itself is fairly technical.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-19-32-32

A sharp right hander at 600m or so to go, followed by another 90-degree turn in quick succession. The riders then have to traverse a roundabout at 300m to go before a slight uphill kick in the final 100m* that averages 5%. They’ll be carrying a lot of speed into the kicker but it is something to think about and makes timing your effort even more important.

*At least that’s where I think the finish is as the organisers aren’t very helpful with their route descriptions. 500m after the last turn and “The Esplanade near Albert Place” has led me to聽deduce that the finish line is there. Channeling my inner Sherlock!

Weather Watch

With a lot of today’s stage going along the coast there is always a chance that we could get some crosswinds. We may be left disappointed though as the wind doesn’t appear to be strong enough. However, according to the Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology聽there will be some moderate winds in and around the area.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-18-14-49

There is also the possibility of rain late into the stage which would certainly spice things up! But as we know, meteorologists steal a living so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see closer to the time.

How will the stage pan out?

On paper this should really be a sprint, but with the big GC gaps created yesterday there is a chance that a break might be let go and if it does then it’s anybodies guess as to who wins! BMC have no sprinter so will just control the break and only chase hard if there is a threat to Porte’s lead.

Therefore it will be over to the sprinter teams to do most of the hard work and we will most likely see Orica and Bora (it is their namesake stage) share the duties with maybe one or two riders from Sky/Trek helping out.

I’m not going to bore you by going over the sprinters in-depth again so this will be a shorter summary!

I’m concerned with Ewan on this course as he’s not the best climber and does go awry in less than ideal conditions. The Bora pairing will be fired up for this due to the sponsor naming rights, but who sprints for them? I think Sagan will be given his chance this time.聽Van Poppel聽possesses a good uphill sprint and is a danger for the win, likewise is Bonifazio, although his lack of a lead-out will let him down. This finish reminds me of the stage Theuns won at the Baloise Belgium Tour last year. He’ll be up there again but I’m going to avoid him this stage. As for the rest, Planckaert may spring a surprise in a tougher sprint.

Some of the puncheurs might even fancy their chances but I think it will be too easy for them unless we get a very hard pace around the circuit. And of course there is always that slim possibility of a late attack sticking!

Prediction

This should end up in some kind of sprint, 90% chance I reckon, with the other 10% being split between morning break and late attack succeeding.

A Bora rider will win the Bora named stage. Sagan takes his first victory in 2017.

He should be able to cope with the circuit and any prevailing weather conditions that we get. The only concern is if they choose Bennett over him, but they seem to have a good working relationship and I reckon the Irishman will let him go for it today!

peter-sagan-tour-de-suisse-2

Betting

2.3pts WIN Sagan @5/1 with SkyBet (I’d take 4/1 offered elsewhere)

Just in case of a break/late attack adding two small punts;

0.1pt WIN Valgren @200/1 with Betfair/PP.

0.1pt WIN Hansen @ 150/1 with Bet365 (Would take 125/1)

No real H2H that I like so far, but if I change my mind then I’ll add them/put them on my twitter!

 

As usual, thanks for reading! Hoping we get an exciting stage today as it will be the first one I get to watch properly. Any feedback etc is greatly appreciated. Anyway,

They were My Two Spokes Worth.