Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 6 Preview; Adelaide -> Adelaide

I’m short on time so this will be a quick preview; faster than Porte up Willunga…

Stage 5 Recap

Well, the King lives on!

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Porte stormed away from his rivals up Willunga, but didn’t get enough of a gap to lead GC overall. The Ochre jersey will be worn by Impey (who finished second on Willunga) going into the final stage, as he is ahead of the BMC rider due to count back. Slagter took third behind the two and consequently finds himself on the GC podium as well.

I can’t see Porte and BMC trying anything on the streets of Adelaide to distance Impey, but you never know.

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

The Route

Same old, same old; the classic final circuit around Adelaide.

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Nothing really exciting to see here!

We’ll no doubt see a break form at some point but this should be controlled well enough to bring it all back for a sprint.

There is a little hill during the circuit that helps to line things out going into the final few laps.

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Coming through near the front in the final few corners is important as it can be quite hard to make up places from behind here. Saying that, it looks as if there might be a bit of a headwind this year so it could actually be an advantage to come from 6 riders or so back. We’ll have to wait and see!

Contenders

Ewan – Mitchelton will keep an eye on BMC/Porte early on, but they’ll fully turn their attention to the pocket rocket in the closing few laps. He’s been in a good position a few times but has messed it up. I’m wondering if that with his improved climbing that he seems to be showing; if he’s lost some of his power in the flat sprints?

Greipel – It is nice to see the German have his mojo back; he’s looked very powerful in the sprints so far. With the cooler temperatures set to return, I imagine he’ll no doubt give it another good go and it would be a surprise not to see him on or around the podium.

Viviani – Lightning fast on stage 3, the Italian does seem to have some early zip about him. With Sabatini as lead-out, he should be delivered well into the final few hundred metres. However, I think it is best for Viviani to come from behind, so it will be interesting to see how they approach it. He is a danger though!

Bennett – Given Sagan has his stage glory and McCarthy is no longer in the GC picture, I hope Bora give their Irish sprinter a chance. He’s shown on numerous occasions that he has some great top end speed. With Sagan and Selig putting down the power for him, he should get an armchair ride through those final turns. It is all a question whether he has fully recovered from his cold, but going by his intermediate sprints the other day, I think he has.

Bauhaus – I knew after not backing him on Stage 3 he would go and produce a strong result. Like Viviani, he flew from far back, using the slipstream of the other riders very effectively. A powerful rider in his own right, he reminds me of Kittel in some ways. Can he show the same top end speed here?

Consonni – I like the young Italian a lot and he’s much more versatile than just a sprinter; finishing second in the U23 category on the tough World’s course in Richmond a few years ago. After a season in the pro ranks, his top end speed seems to be coming along well. He’s produced consistent results this week; but he can make that final step?

Prediction

The veteran to be the smartest in the headwind; Greipel to power home for a second stage win.

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Consonni to finally break onto the podium as well!

Betting

3pts WIN Greipel @ 4/1 with Bet365

1pt EW Consonni @ 33/1 with Bet365

 

Thanks as always for reading and apologies for the shorter preview! Hope you’ve all enjoyed the opening week of the men’s racing season. I’ll be back with both men and women’s CEGORR previews next weekend. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 6 Preview; Reggio Calabria -> Terme Liugiane

Today’s Recap

We did get that inevitable sprint in the end, with no turning of the wind in the morning. Much to my disappointment!

It was Gaviria and QuickStep who timed the charge to the line perfectly in a tricky head-wind sprint, beating a fast finishing Mareczko and Bennett to the line.

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Will the Colombian be there to compete at the finish line tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

Back onto mainland Italy, we head north along the west coast of the country to Terme Liugiane. At 217km it is a long day out in the saddle for the riders but surprisingly it is only the 6th longest stage of the race!

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A flat start to the day changes after 25km where we have the first categorised climb of the day, before a descent and a run towards the TV’s which really should be KOMs more than anything!

Once we pass the second TV, the parcours is flat for the following 100km or so but it is in the last 30km of the day where things start to get interesting and the road starts undulating more seriously again. At roughly 25km to go we have a 1.5km climb that averages over 7% and this should shake out some of the sprinters. A short descent follows before it kicks up again for another kilometre before continuing the descent again.

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The penultimate rise before the line which crests at 5km to go. Averaging 5.9% for a kilometre it’s not too tough but it will be attacked at a fast pace because there is a very technical section once they are over the top.

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The quick succession of hairpins will string things out even more as they continue towards the finish. A series of false flat and shallow descending will take riders to the 2km to go banner where they turn left and start climbing to the line.

Initially the rise is not that steep, roughly 2% for a kilometre, but the second kilometre is closer to 7% with a 10% max gradient.

You don’t want to open up the effort too early and be left flagging by the line. It’s the same finished that was used back in 2003 so you can get a rough idea of who will be fighting for the win.

Break or no break? That is the question.

As so often is the case when we get stages that don’t have a clear narrative, i.e. the nailed on sprint stage such as today, we’re once again left discussing if the break makes it or not.

Over the past few stages we have had no “fight” at all to make the move, with the longest it taking being 11km back on stage 3 for the escapees to get a sizeable gap. Furthermore, we haven’t had a big group go yet either, with most of the breakaways consisting of 4 riders.

However, I think all of that will change tomorrow and there will be a greater motivation within the peloton to send riders up the road.

The reason for this is that as I have mentioned above, there is no clear-cut outcome for this stage so it will take a lot of resources from a team if they want to control it. Secondly, there are big enough GC gaps now to let riders get in the move and not be worried about the overall picture. QuickStep might even be happy to relinquish the jersey for a few days! With a few awkward stages to come and with one-eye on Blockhaus, I don’t think the GC guys will be overly fussed about keeping it together for a crazy final 20km, hoping to sprint for bonus seconds.

Therefore, I think the break has a good chance of making it all the way. We’ll see a move of around 10-12 riders go and that will be it for the day.

Contenders

Like normal, I’ll throw a few names into the hat; some sensible-ish, some curveballs and hopefully at least get someone up the road!

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Thinking cap on…

Matteo Busato.

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The Willier rider has been very quiet this race so far, rolling home every day. That could be because he is conserving as much energy as possible and targeting a few stages, or he might just be ill. I’m obviously hoping it’s the former! Still without a pro win in his career, he is a solid climber who packs a good sprint so he should be able to handle this explosion finish. Firstly it is a question of making the break, but then who is there with him. He certainly has a chance of taking his first win in the correct company.

Enrico Battaglin.

A strong rider who has taken two wins at the Giro in the past, he seems to be turning his hand to the sprints at this race. Nonetheless, he is much more adept at the short hills and tomorrow’s stage looks ideal for him. Exceptionally impressive at this race last year, working as the main lieutenant for Kruijswijk in the first couple of weeks, he looks back to that form again. I think he might be given the freedom to attack tomorrow before returning to team duties later in the race. He is a rider the others will be wary of if he makes the move.

Patrick Konrad.

The Austrian arrived here as Bora’s long-shot GC hope but he drifted way out of contention on Etna and finds himself over 10 minutes behind Jungels. Maybe he has caught whatever Bennett had the other day? If not, like a few others he could well just be conserving energy to attack some stages. Tomorrow looks like a good day for him as he is a strong all-rounder but packs a fast-punchy sprint which will suit him in good stead for the final rise to the line. His 7th on GC in Pais Vasco at the end of April is testament to his climbing ability as well!

Edward Ravasi.

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A promising young Italian climber, the UAE Emirates rider finished second at the Tour de l’Avenir last year. Not a big name in the peloton just now, he may benefit from that anonymity to surprise from the break!

Prediction

I’ll go for a rider who seems to go well here to take the win. The finish looks great for him and he has a chance from both the break and if we get a bigger group come to the line. Battaglin to steal the day!

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Anyone clock my awfully sly (or just plain awful) Twitter link pun?

Betting

As it’s a break day, I’ll go WIN Only on everyone, all with Bet365;

1.3pt Battaglin @ 16/1

0.4pt Konrad @ 80/1 

0.3pt Ravasi (Not priced)

0.4pt Busato @ 125/1 

0.4pt Ravasi (priced eventually) @ 200/1

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will take the stage and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Pais Vasco 2017 Stage 6 Preview; Eibar -> Eibar (ITT)

Today’s Recap

The break was kept on a tight leash all day and was brought back before the 50km to go mark. Orica were the team taking on the brunt of the pace making duties, but when we got to the final climb Yates looked a bit flat. Instead, for a while it looked as if Meintjes and Woods were going to surprise the favourites, but they were brought back just before the summit.

That left a couple of kilometres of false flat/descent which saw Sanchez spectacularly fall off while no-one was around him. According to reports apparently he hit a stone! He looked pretty bashed up when crossing the line.

Reducing the front group by two (the crash distanced Contador by a few seconds), Valverde used his knowledge of the finale (he won on this finish in the 2012 Vuelta), beating Uran and Bardet to the line.

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Too easy in the end for him!

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

The Route

Climb -> Descent -> Flat. A real mixed bag of a TT!

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@LasterketaBurua

No Strava profile from me today as I’m short of time.

As you can see above, the opening climb isn’t exactly easy; 5.2Km long at 7.3%. The riders will be fairly happy that the gradients are relatively consistent. Saying that, the first 3.5km of the climb averages closer to 9%, with the remainder of it tapering out.

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The Strava profile of the climb can be viewed here.

There are a few twists and turns on the descent but there is nothing too crazy.

The second half of the stage is mainly flat, but there are a few short kick-ups, with 700m at 9.7% looking to be the toughest. We finish with a couple of kilometres of false-flat to the finish line.

Thankfully for the riders, the conditions appear to be similar all day so there’s no need to worry about that!

I’m intrigued to see how many riders start on a road bike and switch to a TT bike later on, the latter part of the stage is certainly long enough for the aerodynamics of the TT bike to have an effect. Or if we’ll just see them ride a road bike with bars? Who knows!

Contenders

After his stage win the other day, Roglic has to start as one of the main contenders for tomorrow’s TT. After all, it is the discipline he shot to prominence in at the Giro last year, taking a great stage win! He has the climbing ability and flat power to contend on a course like this. Yet, I’m concerned with how far he finished today. The last climb isn’t properly suited to his abilities but to lose over a minute isn’t great. He can’t be ruled out though!

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Ion Izagirre is arguably the favourite though. Losing only 15 seconds today, he is within distance of stealing the overall title. A great all round, one-week stage racer, he should be close to the times of the better climbers on the mountain and hope that his good descending and rouleur skills will be enough to take victory.

Valverde will be high on confidence after his win today, looking exceptionally strong on the climb. The inclusion of a long climb suits him tomorrow, likewise does the descent. The question is, can he hold onto any lead on the flat? He looks powerful at the moment and seemingly in the form of his life, so I would be surprised if he didn’t.

After several bits of bad luck in this race, Contador can count his blessings to be only 3 seconds behind the leaders at this moment in time. Like the rest of that front group today, he looked good on the climb, trading blows with Valverde as if it was the Vuelta. He’s re-found his TT form again this season and is certainly in with a chance of the win tomorrow. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get impeded by a dog this time!

Sky have a few options tomorrow but I fear Henao might struggle on the flat and Kwiatkowski seemed to be struggling today. Will they let Kiryienka have a go? I would image so because Sky will want one of their earlier guys to give feedback to the later starters. The length of the course is more to his liking than recent TTs and he’ll hope to be within touching distance after the climb and eat up the flat final 2/3rds of the route!

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Apart from those guys I can’t really see anyone competing!

Uran has looked great this race so far but hasn’t put in a decent TT time in donkey’s years!

Bardet will love the climb but struggle on the flat.

One outsider who might break the mould tomorrow is Spilak. After a truly awful 2016, he seems to be returning to form. He was the eternal second place in tough TTs in 2015 and he may surprise again tomorrow.

Predicition

You can never trust Kiryienka being let off the leash so it looks set to be a toss-up between Izagirre v Contador v Valverde.

I think the former will lose too much time on the climb and struggle to regain it back on the flat. Which means we are left with the age-old Contador/Valverde battle.

Without much to seperate them on the flat, I think the longer climb will play a part and it will be Contador who will take the win!

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Watch out for a certain Solvenian though, and not the one you are thinking about!

Betting

Sitting on 3pts profit for the race so far, so just going to play up that here.

2pts WIN Contador @ 5/2

0.5pt EW Spilak @ 25/1

 

It’s early but I’m adding a couple of Roubaix long shots before tomorrow’s preview;

0.25pt EW Groenewegen @ 250/1 with Bet365 (would take 150/1)

0.25pt EW Theuns @200/1 with Bet365/Coral (would take 150/1)

 

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win the stage, and with it possibly the GC too? I’ll be back again tomorrow with my Paris Roubaix preview for stay tuned for that. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Volta Catalunya Stage 6 Preview; Tortosa -> Reus

Today’s Recap

I should never have doubted him for a minute!

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Valverde won the stage easily, ahead of Froome and Contador. With the stage win and his 21 second gap back to the Brit, the GC battle is well and truly over for the week. Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

Another rolling day in the saddle. What else can do the riders expect in this region though?!

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@LasterketaBurua

After a few kilometres of flat right from the gun, the riders will then face the long and gradual Cat3 ascent of the Alt de Bot. This certainly looks a good place for a breakaway to be let go, but considering that everyone knows that it typically won’t be! Instead, it might be the rolling terrain afterwards and around the 4okm at Gandesa where the correct group of riders are finally let go.

More, you guessed it, rolling terrain follows. Before we have three categorised climbs in quick succession. None is tough enough to cause splits in the peloton, but they could do some damage to the break. Especially if there are some riders up the road who don’t want to have a sprint at the end of the day.

We have a descent almost all the way to the line once they have traversed the plateau after of the final climb, although admittedly, some of the descending is more false flat than downhill.

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The road does rise up in the final few kilometres but it averages over just 1% for the last 2km so nothing too serious. We do have a roundabout at 500m to go which could be used as a ploy for a late attack from the break.

How will the stage pan out?

I think you’ve guessed it by now…

Nestle Breakaway Milk Chocolate Biscuit 8 Pack 152G

Contenders

Names in a hat? As long as they are no threat on GC Movistar will be happy to let them go. That pretty much means anyone outside the top 20 so we have a lot of riders to choose from! Once again, I’ll suggest a few names that might give it a go.

Xandro Meurisse. 

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The Wanty rider seems to be plodding along quite nicely in this race and is climbing as well as I have seen for a while. Traditionally more of a puncheur, he only finished 15 seconds behind Van Garderen on today’s summit finish. If he gets in the break and can cope with any attacks on the final climb, he has a good chance of winning a sprint!

Peter Kennaugh.

I highlighted him on stage 1 and he did the preview justice on a day I was completely wrong, by giving it a little nudge off the front. He lost 5 minutes today, but considering he was one of the last Sky riders in the front group on Stage 3 I doubt that those losses will be due to bad form. Saving himself for tomorrow?

Gianluca Brambilla.

The Italian was suffering from illness not that long ago, but he’s still racing here which makes me think that he’s now over his bug. He made the break on stage 3 but dropped back to the peloton, but I think that was because teams were still unsure if he was a threat on GC. Or, maybe he is still ill! Nonetheless, he is way out of contention now and the final climb and finish suit him perfectly if he’s back to full fitness. That’s a big if, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take!

Lachlan Morton.

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Morton has had a quiet time of it so far this race, but he has been industrious at the front of the peloton when needed. Namely, doing work for Sbaragli on stages 1 and 4. The Aussie is a very solid climber, finishing 7th on the Green Mountain earlier this year in Oman. With no GC hopes, Dimension Data will be chasing stages and Morton may well be that man!

Prediction

He looked good on Stage 3 and should survive the climb if he’s in the break. If he’s not and we for some reason get a reduced peloton fighting out the stage win, he could well attack once again in the closing kilometres.

Peter “what’s the women’s Giro” Kennaugh to win!

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Betting

Another day I don’t want to get overly involved with but I am most confident in Kennaugh so he gets the majority of the backing!

All B365.

0.7pt WIN Kennaugh @ 25/1

0.3pt WIN Brambilla @ 18/1 

0.25pt WIN Morton @ 250/1

0.25pt WIN Meurisse @ 80/1

 

Thanks for reading as always! Who do you think will win? Tomorrow will be a big day of previews with my final stage preview for this race, but also previews for the men’s and women’s Gent-Wevelgem. I hope you’ll be able to read them all! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Tirreno Adriatico Stage 6 Preview

Today’s Recap

An incredibly exciting stage, and I only managed to catch the final 40km. We had attacks from GC guys and one-day specialists but the peloton arrived at the finish climb together, well, what remained of it.

Much like Gary Lineker’s quote about football being “a simple game where 22 men-chase a ball for 90 minutes and in the end, the Germans win.”

Cycling is a simple sport where 180 riders cycle for 5 hours and in the end, Sagan wins!

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The World Champion clawed his way back to a group of GC favourites as they sat up and played games. Not exactly the best move by them! It was then academic as we got to the slight uphill sprint finish. Pinot and Roglic rounded out the podium.

What’s in store for the riders tomorrow? Let’s have a look.

The Route

A shorter day in the saddle, which I’m sure will please some tired riders.

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We have a lot of undulating roads in the first three quarters of the stage but there is nothing too serious for the bunch to be concerned with.

A long period of flat with around 30km to go could see the end of the breakaway, and we then have one little test before the finish.

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1.7km at 4.7% average could be challenging for the sprinters if they’re on a bad day, but you would expect them to hold on. However, the little descent then 500m section at 7.4% could be a great launchpad for an attack before we have a tricky and technical descent.

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The pan-flat and almost dead straight finish may spell the end of any would be attackers though if the pack is organised behind.

How will the stage pan out?

Just like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn.

So this will be a split preview of sorts.

On paper, this should be a sprint with it being only the second opportunity all race for a bunch gallop to the line. With the sprinters close to peak condition for Milan San Remo, they should manage the final climb as it’s very similar to the Poggio. It does come a lot closer to the finish so the battle back to the front will be a lot more difficult if you slip to the back of the pack.

Yet, after a very tough two days the peloton might want to have an easier day in the saddle. Although saying that, with it being the last road stage of the race I’m sure we’ll see an attacking day. We only have four proper sprinters here that could contend at the finish in my opinion (Sagan, Cavendish, Gaviria, Viviani) so other teams may look to the breakaway as their best option for the day. Will the teams of the sprinters be willing to work on the front all day? That’s the million pound question. In his preview with @Cyclingmole (starts around 18:10 mark) Jay Thomson sounded fairly confident in a sprint, but will that have changed after the past two days?

I think if we get representation from at least two of the sprinters teams; Bora, Dimension Data, QuickStep and Sky, then the break will stay away.

Sprinters

As mentioned earlier, the 4 riders listed are a class above in a field like this and you would expect them to populate the top of the standings.

In a flat sprint you would have to favour Cavendish or Gaviria. The Dimension Data rider has a very strong team with him here, capable of delivering a very strong lead-out. His favourite pilot fish Mark Renshaw is here and they form a formidable duo. If the Manxman has recovered from his illness, he has a very good chance of winning this.

We don’t really know how well Gaviria may have gone on the opening sprint after he was held up in the crash. Like DD, Quickstep have a very good lead-out train here and no doubt they’ll be the two teams fighting for space at the head of the peloton. Having Boonen as a lead-out man isn’t that bad either! Gaviria has beaten Cavendish before and I’m sure he’d love to make a big statement before Milan San Remo.

You can never discount Sagan and the little hill close to the finish puts him more on terms with the other two. He clearly is motoring right now and a third stage win is not as unlikely as it seemed at the start of the race.

I’m still not convinced by Viviani this year. He did well to get up for second on stage 3 but he’s still without a win this year and I can’t see that changing here.

Breakaway Contenders

I’m going to pick two guys that were in the move today, plus another. All three are similar in style but ever so slightly different.

Steve Cummings.

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He’s been relatively quiet this season so far, but the Brit presents the best opportunity for Dimension Data in the break. He’s exceptionally strong on the flat and short climbs and he is capable of time trialling his way to the line if he gets a gap. Of course, he’s also a good ploy later on in the race to attack if Cavendish isn’t feeling up for it. Cummings won a similar stage here last year, although the final climb was slightly tougher then.

Niki Terpstra.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see Terpstra finish so far up the standings on stage 2. He is clearly building some nice form ahead of the cobbled classics. A rider in a similar mould to Cummings, although the Dutchman is probably better on the flat, he could find himself attacking the breakaway group near the end of the stage. Managing to hold on for the win.

Tim Wellens.

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You can’t ignore a rider like Wellens for this stage. He is in scintillating form in this early part of the season, already picking up 3 wins. His third place in Strade highlights how versatile of a rider he is. After being involved in the crash on stage 3, he’s since lost a lot of time on GC but has been resting up at the back of the peloton, apart from a probing attack on today’s stage.  With eyes on this stage maybe?

Prediction

If we get a sprint, I’ll go for Cavendish.

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He has the best train here and will be hungry to prove that he is a danger for MSR!

If we get a break, I’ll go for Wellens.

Betting

Cavendish 1.3pts WIN @ 11/2 with Bet365

Terpstra 0.25pts WIN @

Cummings 0.35pts WIN @ 40/1 with Bet365

Wellens 0.35pts WIN @ 66/1 with Bet365

 

Thanks as always for reading! How do you think the stage will pan out? Could be a finely balanced day, but the teams never seem to be thinking along the same lines as I am. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

Paris Nice 2017 Stage 6 Preview; Aubagne -> Fayence

Today’s Recap

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

 

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

The Route

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nestle Breakaway Milk Chocolate Biscuit 8 Pack 152G

Contenders

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

Mathias Frank.

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

Mauro Finetto.

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

Nicolas Edet.

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

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Credit goes to @ammattipyoraily  on Twitter for the table.

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

Sam Oomen.

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

Prediction

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

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Betting

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

0.25pt WIN on them all;

Finetto @ 100/1 (Various)

Oomen @ 33/1 (Various)

Edet @ 150/1 (Ladbrokes)

Frank @ 50/1 (Ladbrokes)

 

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

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Tour Down Under Stage 6 Preview; Adelaide -> Adelaide

*This preview will be short as I’m back to work tonight and have woken up later than expected! Plus, there’s not much to say anyway*

Today’s Recap

👑  The King of Willunga is still the King! 👑

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Porte makes it 4 wins on the bounce with a truly impressive attack and sustained effort. Looking at the footage he seemed to actually go 100m earlier than he normally would, attacking at 1.3km rather than his usual 1.2km. No one could match him this time and the likes of Henao etc. were well and truly dropped before the “S-bend” at 700m to go. Are they not as good as previous years or is Richie just in much better condition? I think the latter!

Once Porte made that attack our stage picks had no chance but a special mention must go to Nathan Earle who got up for a credible 6th place. Also, Nathan Haas sprinted to 2nd which currently leaves him 3rd on GC with some bonus seconds up for grabs out on the road on stage 6; that battle for the podium between him and McCarthy certainly isn’t over yet!

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the final day.

The Route

We have the same route that’s featured the past couple of years. I’ll just use the official profile of this stage as my Strava one is a bit messed up. Although saying that, completely ignore the scale on the official profile as it’s wrong! There’s only around 100m elevation gain per lap at most, not 300.

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I can imagine Thomas De Gendt will feature in the break, attempting to wrestle that KOM jersey from Porte. We’ll also possibly see some action from Haas/McCarthy in the intermediate sprints as they look to battle for the podium. Haas could even potentially move up to second too so that should add some excitement to what will be a relatively boring day up until the final 10km.

The final few hundred metres of the circuit does drag ever so slightly up hill but only at around 1% so it shouldn’t be a big deal for any of these guys.

The guys looking to win the stage will want to be near the front at 2.5km to go as they enter the more technical section around the park. From there, the pace will be on and it will be hard to move up the bunch without expending a lot of energy. Saying that, the road does widen in the last km so a team can make a last-ditch run to the line.

Stage Contenders

Short and sweet section here.

On current form Ewan looks pretty much unbeatable. He’s exceptional at these time of kermesse races and with Dubrdige/Gerrans/Impey/Kluge to lead him out he has the best support team too. Justifiably, he is the odds on favourite. Can he take 4 wins out of 6 stages?

Bora will once again have the luxury choice of either Sagan or Bennett. This type of sprint would suit the Irishman better and after having done a lot of work for his team on the past few stages he will be returned the favour here I think. He looked fast on Stage 1 and is possibly the only guy who can seriously challenge Ewan.

Van Poppel will once again be up there for Sky and should expect another top 5 placing, with the same being said for Bonifazio.

I hope Theuns actually gets a clear run at the finish this time without being blocked off. A podium placing is certainly within his sights.

As for the rest, expect to see the usual names of Renshaw, Arndt and Planckaert populating the top 10.

Prediction

Should I be boring but most likely correct and say Ewan? Or slightly more interesting and say Bennett? I’ll be boring for once, Caleb wins his 4th stage of the race!

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I’ll go for Bennett and some PFCL bias here, Theuns, to round of the podium!

Betting

No value in Ewan at those odds, especially when anything can happen in bike racing. One badly timed puncture/crash and he’s out of it. However, I do think there is a bit of value in;

Bennett 1pt EW @ 14/1 with Betfair/PaddyPower (I’d take down to 10/1)

No H2H up yet, but I’ll update my Twitter later if I see something I like/get the chance.

 

Thanks to everyone who’s read and shared the blog over the past week. Not been the best of starts in terms of betting/prediction wise but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless! I shall be doing previews of all the WT races this year plus anything we can watch on TV/stream online so expect more content from me this time round. Also, I fully intend on doing previews of all the Women’s World Tour races too. Maybe not daily stage previews but certainly a GC/over-arching race preview!

I’ll be back next weekend for the Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Road Race. Anyway, thanks again,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Giro stage 6: Ponte – Roccaraso (Aremogna)

Another sprint, another German win but not from the rider that you’d expect!

Andre Greipel powered up the hill to the finish line, putting a gap over his sprint rivals that was reminiscent of Kittel’s stage wins back in the Netherlands. Demare got up for second, with Colbrelli snatching third ahead of a fading (but very impressive) Bob Jungels.

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As for the blog picks of Rojas and Hansen. Not great. Again. I don’t want this to become a recurring habit!

Rojas hit the front just as the riders rode past the finish line for the first time and I knew that his chances were up…

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Some wishful thinking on Twitter

Whereas, Hansen was roped into doing some work for the eventual winner and came home around 2 minutes down. I’m sure he’ll give it a go later on in the race!

 

The Route

Anyway, onto tomorrow’s stage and our first mountain-top finish of the race. A short stage at only 157km the main focus being the two category-two climbs that the race will cover.

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Stage Profile

The first being the ascent up the Bocca Della Selva which comes fairly early on in the stage. This climb is the tougher of the two and some of the riders will be happy about its placement early on in the day. The reason I say this is that it will most likely not be rode up at any severe speed, we might even see some of the sprinters hold on over the top of it. This will all be dependant on when the break goes up the road though. If it goes from the gun then it will be an easy ascent, if not then we might see some riders really struggle here as the pace will be very high. I think we’ll get a nice early breakaway.

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Profile of the first climb of the day; Bocca Della Selva

After this climb, there is a long descent and bit of flat before we reach three uncategorised bumps. As we’ve seen in previous days, these un-categorised bumps are more often than not very tough and we’ll see a reduction of the peloton here. Particularly over the last of the three and the penultimate climb of the day. This will mean that the peloton will be fairly small, around 60-80 riders at most when we reach the foothills of the final climb; Roccaraso (Aremogna).

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Profile of the final climb

As you can see, the climb goes up in steps, with the toughest gradient coming in the first half. It’s 17km long and averages a lowly 4.8% gradient.

“The final climb is 17 km long, with an average 4.8% gradient. The first part is quite steep, with a short 12% stretch, followed by a deceptively false-flat drag (across the centre of Roccaraso). Seven kilometres before the finish, the route starts to climb again with variable slopes ranging from 4% to 7%. The final km has a 7% gradient. The home stretch, running entirely uphill, is 120 m long, on 6-m wide asphalt road.” (Extract from the Roadbook)

 

The nature of the climb means that there won’t be many time gaps at the end of the day between GC favourites and they’ll all more than likely come home within around 10 seconds of each other, if that. I think we’ll get a reasonably large group (of around 15-20 riders) at the end either contesting a sprint, or for one late attacker to jump out the pack and steal glory.

 

Weather Watch

Looks set to be another good day in Italy. Although up to Roccaraso we might get a sprinkling of rain, but it doesn’t appear to be much and looks more likely to have already fallen by the time the riders reach the area.

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Who are the favourites?

Alejandro Valverde has to start as the favourite for a stage like this, it looks tailor-made for the Spaniard. The ramp at the end of the stage suits his characteristics to a tee and he should be the fastest sprinter left at the business-end. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on and win it, but I’m not convinced he will. The reason why I think he’ll struggle is the same reason why he struggled at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, everyone will look at him to do the work in the finale. However, the good thing with the profile of this finish is that he should have company from team-mates Amador and possibly Visconti, who he could rope into marking attacks.

Valverde won’t have it plain sailing either as he’ll have competition from the flying Italian Diego Ulissi and Maglia Rosa holder Tom Dumoulin who’ve both shown in the past two stages that they can pack a punch at the end of a stage. Both of these riders are very solid in the Ardennes and to find a potential winner here you have to look at someone with similar characteristics.

However, there is a chance that it won’t come down to a final sprint to the line. We saw this last year at the Vuelta, where Esteban Chaves managed to escape the favourites on the opening up-hill finishes. The smiling Colombian is here and he might try a similar move. I feel it will be to no avail though, as he’s a proven danger-man and the other GC favourites won’t let him get away so easily this time.

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Will the smiling assassin take another win?

For someone to successfully get away they have to be not only in good form, but have to be regarded as not that much of a GC threat. Either that, or their main GC contender of a team-mate will still be in the bunch, creating opportunities for the “lesser” rider to attack.

There are several riders who fit this category that finished with the first-group on Stage 4 (showing good form); Brambilla, Firsanov, Roche, Preidler, Siutsou, Fuglsang, Formolo and Pirazzi. I would include Jungels in that list but with the Young Riders jersey on his back he’ll be more heavily marked. Taaramae isn’t included in that list either because of his crash today, although he seems to be OK.

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In my opinion the biggest threats out of those riders are Brambilla, Firsanov, Roche and Fuglsang. They all should be given a bit of leeway as the main protagonists of the race look at each other, with Brambilla and Firsanov most likely being the riders given the greatest amount breathing space.

I would also be wary of Siutsou. The Belarusian hasn’t been climbing spectacularly recently but he seems to be more of an attacking rider at Dimension Data and is the type of rider to try to go from far out. Although, with a poor sprint, he’ll need to make the final few hundred metres alone.

Prediction

I don’t think a breakaway has any chance of survival tomorrow. With bonus seconds on the line, Movistar (Valverde), Lampre (Ulissi) and Giant (Dumoulin) will all probably contribute together to chase them down.

However, I think we won’t see any of them winning the stage tomorrow. Instead it will be one of the “lesser” riders that I’ve mentioned above.

Of those, I’d say Fuglsang and Roche are definitely the strongest climbers, which is both good and bad. Good, because it should be easier for them to escape, but bad, because they’ll be more heavily marked as they’re considered greater GC threats.

Therefore, I think it will be either Brambilla or Firsanov who goes on to take the win, either solo, or from a smallish bunch sprint, with the favourites coming in a few seconds down. Of the two, Brambilla has the best sprint so he could even win while trying to out-sprint Valverde and co. Consequently, he’s my pick for tomorrow.

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He has a lot of fighting spirit as was shown in the handbags that him and Rovny shared at the Vuelta in 2014. That brought a whole new meaning to the term “puncheur”. Hopefully he’ll show the same attacking intent tomorrow!

Betting

Going to cover what I’ve written above with 3 picks tomorrow;

Brambilla 1pt EW at 33/1. – value down to 25/1

Firsanov 0.4pt EW at 50/1. – value down to 40/1

Siutsou 0.1pt EW at 300/1. – value down to 250/1

All with PaddyPower. Hunt around later when more odds are announced, you might get a better price.

 

It could end up being quite a dull stage tomorrow until the final climb, but hopefully we’ll see some attacks up it, and a Brambilla win! Enjoy wherever you’re watching it from. Anyway,

Those were MyTwoSpokesWorth