We ended up with a sprint in the end despite Dowsett’s valiant efforts.
Viviani won after a Froome lead-out, beating Colbrelli and Schwarzmann.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.
The Queen stage of the race, with three cat-1 climbs in the second half of the day.
However, they aren’t the most difficult of climbs and the toughest is actually the first one, Jaunpass, that crests with 70km to go.
From there, it is a case of descents followed by climbs all the way to the finish, with very little flat road.
The penultimate climb of the day is fairly easy, but it does have a three kilometre stretch that averages close to 7%. I would expect some teams to attempt and put the hurt on here.
A long descent follows before the short climb to the finish.
Officially only 4km long, the road does rise before we get the “start” of the climb.
Attacks should come from the bottom because it’s not long enough to delay until 2km to go etc, or so I hope!
Thankfully the weather seems to be clearing up for the weekend and we should go over all of the climbs that are listed, with the route hopefully remaining unchanged. But you never seem to know in this part of the world!
How will the stage pan out?
As alluded to above, I expect the racing to be on early tomorrow. Most of the climbs aren’t difficult so the day will have to be attacked if the likes of Porte and Froome want to put the others in trouble.
Sky don’t have a great team with them, so the Brit will have to rely heavily on the likes of Kiryienka and Kennaugh. Nonetheless, they have enough firepower to cause some issues.
It is BMC though who have a strong team and in Schar, Wyss and Roche they have three very solid climbing domestiques. Not to mention that Porte and Van Garderen are both high up on the overall and can pull the ol’ 1-2!
So splits early in the day after some teams try to attack the climbs, leaving an elite group of 25 or so riders at the bottom of the final climb.
A flurry of attacks at the bottom of that climb will see the strongest riders get away; Porte, Froome, Izagirre, Roglic and Kelderman.
The first two struggle to gap the other trio as the gradients ease, allowing for an attack…
Izagirre and Roglic are considered too big a threat due to the TT, but Kelderman takes advantage of this and takes the win. This is one of the only races this year the Dutchman has leadership at and I’m sure he’d love to take a win before going to the Giro in support of Dumoulin. He packs a fairly decent sprint for a GC rider so also has a chance if a small group comes to the line!
Apologies again for how ridiculously short this is but I have hit the proverbial preview writing wall and I’ve started to lose interest in Romandie if I’m honest. I’ll try and have something more substantial out for the TT tomorrow as it looks like an interesting day. In the meantime, check out @InsidePeloton96‘s preview as a way to get another insight of tomorrow’s stage in comparison to what I’ve wrote. Anyway,
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
Normally I would say that a rider would have to be over 2 minutes behind at this point for them to 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…
The guitar 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?
A strong second place on the opening day highlights that Dowsett is in reasonable shape. He managed to hold on to the peloton much longer than I expected on Stage 1 but he eventually succumbed and lost almost 5 minutes. 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!
After his fourth 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!
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!
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
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?
It looked for a while as if the weather was going to hold out, but it started tipping it down towards the end of the day. Which made for very grizzly conditions going up the last climb. I’m sure if that made the stage easier or not, as the peloton rode it slightly more defensively than I thought, or if the climb was too easy for any gaps to be made.
In the end, it was Albasini who took a great win (a day too late for me)! With Ulissi and Herrada rounding out the podium.
A damp squib of a stage on the punting front but I’ll soldier on!
A “sprinters” day tomorrow in Romandie, which means that there is still a fair amount of climbing involved.
You can view an interactive profile of the stage here.
There is a chance that they might move the start of tomorrow’s race off the mountain at Champéry and onto the flat valley below. Either way, it shouldn’t have a big impact on the stage.
We do have some relatively tough short climbs out on the course but they come too far from the finish to cause any stress for the sprinters so we should end with some type of bunch kick again.
As there is nothing useful in the road-book, I’ve resorted again to making a Strava profile, this time of the final 5km. You can view that link here.
I’ve went off what information I could take from the interactive profile made by the same guys behind LasterketaBurua as there is no useful information in the RB as to where turns etc are in the finale so apologies if this isn’t 100% correct. But again, I do trust them so I’m assuming it is correct!
The closing 2.8km averages 2.29% all the way to the line. Not tough, but certainly a long drag! The amount of twists and turns in the closing kilometre should also add to the excitement.
However, it was the 900m lump that starts just before the 4km to go mark that caught my eye. As Strava sometimes doesn’t cope with the contouring on maps that well, especially when the road runs very close to a contour, I thought I’d check it out on Google Streetview to see if the climb was actually that steep.
It’s definitely a hill, that I’m sure of… 😜
As for how steep it is, I’m still undecided!
Facing up the road, it looks like quite a tough drag but then when looking parallel to the road it doesn’t seem as bad at all. We’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow I guess as to how steep it actually is. I’m holding out that it is the 900m climb at 7% that Strava promises! My instinct though is that it’s probably closer to a 4% average.
We’re set for another cold day in the saddle.
Thankfully the riders will be happy to see that there is only a “chance of rain” in the afternoon, but I’m sure they’re bound to get soaked at some point.
There are plenty of riders far enough down on GC to warrant a break win, but I think that’s unlikely and we’ll more than likely see some type of sprint into Bulle.
We don’t have many proper sprinters here so a lot of them should be able to compete on this finale.
Viviani is arguably the biggest name here. He’s been climbing a lot better this year, in fact, the best I’ve seen in his whole career. Tomorrow’s finish might be right on his limit but with the Giro looming, you would expect him to be in good shape. Without a win this season, it’s a great chance for him to take victory, but I just can’t see it. Nonetheless, he does surprise occasionally with a great result.
Albasini is a man in form and he can certainly roll over any of the hills tomorrow. The up-hill finish puts him on a similar level to the really fast guys and I would not be surprised to see him double up. At the very least, he is a safe shout for a podium
Colbrelli in theory should be the favourite for this race, but he seems to be tiring after his great start the year. If he still has some strength in his legs then he will be tough to beat.
This type of finish would have been bread and butter for JJ Lobato circa end of 2014. After switching to Jumbo, the Spaniard has failed to deliver a win for his team so far but that could be put down to the injury that plagued him at the start of the year. An 11th place in Amstel shows that some form is there, but can you put any faith in the enigmatic fast man?
Race leader Felline will like the look of the drag towards the finish line tomorrow. Clearly in scintillating form, the Italian is taking advantage of it and looks strong in the lead. If he takes the win and 10 bonus seconds tomorrow, he might fancy his chances at winning this race overall…
What about SamuelDumoulin? The Frenchman has had a fairly solid year but has only picked up one win so far. One of the most consistent riders on an uphill finish, he certainly has a chance if the form is there.
Van der Sande climbed well to finish 17th today but was disappointed to have missed out on getting close to the win. He is clearly going well at the moment and should be Lotto Soudal’s main charge tomorrow as Hofland seems to have fallen by the wayside. A good outsider.
Maybe today was a chance to fight for the win at a mountain top finish ! But strange last K… #noballsnoglory#TDR2017
Bilbao will hope to be up there again for Astana. He was close today in 6th place but with the finish being on the climb this time, I’m sure that will suit his abilities more.
Likewise, it will suit former team-mate Goncalves. A favourite of mine, the Portuguese rider has performed OK in the opening part of the season with his new team Katusha, an 11th place at Strade being his best result. Tomorrow’s finish is one that he would eat for breakfast so to say when he was with Caja Rural and I expect to see him up there fighting for the win tomorrow.
Smith, Swift and Richeze might all get involved as well.
A tough stage to predict the winner of as firstly I’m still not 100% sure of that penultimate ramp, but it’s also difficult to tell how the peloton will approach the drag to the line.
I do think we’ll see a reduced bunch sprint in the end and I’ll go for a guy who was disappointed today to take the win tomorrow; Tosh van der Sande to step up to the plate and start fulfilling his potential!
0.5pt EW Van der Sande @ 22/1 (would take 16s)
0.5pt EW Goncalves @ 400/1 (would take 150s)
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win stage 2? Tomorrow might be a triple preview day with another Romandie stage and potentially Yorkshire Stage 1 and GC, although I might miss the latter if I’m short of time. Anyway,
A wet and miserable TT rewarded the risk takers of the peloton. In the end it was FabioFelline who took a great win. He was putting down a serious amount of power in the closing straight, with the back wheel sliding all over the road. Possible flat tyre? Impressive either way!
AlexDowsett was the last rider down the ramp but kept things interesting, only losing by 2 seconds to the Italian, with an impressive ride from youngster AlexanderEdmondson to take third.
As for Albasini, he looked to be going okay on the first part of the course, but seemed to lack the confidence in the second half. Probably didn’t want to fall after knowing I had put the curse on him. Oh well!
The GC guys took as few risks as possible, trying to keep themselves upright going into the rest of the week. Let’s have a look at what’s in store for them tomorrow.
We get the first open road stage of the race on day two and we are already treated to what is arguably the Queen Stage. Although I do think that is still going to be stage 4!
With only 2700m of elevation gain, it’s certainly not the most wearing day, but the vast majority of the climbing does come in two big sections.
First, we have the Cat-2 climb of Vex that starts around the halfway point in the stage. Averaging a solid 6.3% for 8.9km it will tire the peloton for what’s to come later but I can’t really see it having any impact on the race. If anything, the descent might have a bigger say in the outcome if it is wet and dangerous.
Following the descent there is a long 40km period of flat before a little 2.1km long, 9.1% average kicker. This could see some of the deadwood dropped from the peloton if a team turns the pace on here. If not, the bunch will be grouped together as they start the final climb of the day.
According to the guys @LasterketaBurua the climb is 14.5km long and averages 4.2%, but that’s it topping out with just over 1km to the finish line.
As we get nothing in the road book at all about the climb I’ve made a Strava profile for the whole thing. View that here.
Interestingly, the rider who holds the Strava record for the climb is Adrien Costa (30 minutes) who set that back in the junior race of Pays Vaud back in 2015. I’m sure that will fall tomorrow!
You can split the climb into three parts, with some false flat and shallow descending in between.
The first section is 5.5km at 5.4% but this does include some double figure ramps. Three km of said false flat/descending follows before the second section; 3.2km at 5.8%. We then have almost a kilometre of descending before the final kick up which is 1.3km at 7.7%. A flat-ish run to the line then follows.
Will we see a solo winner, or a group of GC favourites come to the line?
Looks set to be another grim day for the peloton, a recurring theme this week!
Thankfully it’s supposedly only raining at the finish line tomorrow in Champéry (above forecast), but the riders will certainly be cold and wet either way. Hopefully the organisers won’t need to change the route!
The same can’t be said for the climb of Vex as there is a good chance we’ll have sleet on it and that could make the descent dangerous. I don’t think it will have a massive impact on the day if it is included or not.
How will the stage pan out?
It will all come down to the final climb and how aggressively the riders approach it. With only one other mountain top finish, I’m sure the better climbers will want to put as much time into their competitors with a long TT looming.
The weather will play as big a part as any with some riders feeling the cold more than others, and potentially underperforming.
However, I just don’t think the final climb is hard enough to create some serious time gaps. The toughest section is the 1.3km (@7.7%) segment that comes near the end of the climb. We could see some strong attacks here from the likes of Porte and Froome but will they really distance everyone on it? I’m not so sure.
The flat run in to the line could scarper any moves that were made on the slopes, but of course it could work conversely where those behind don’t work together.
Ultimately though, I think the stage will be won either from a late attack on the flat closing 1.5km or in a sprint between GC favourites.
So I’ll throw some names into the proverbial hat.
Proverbial Hat of Contenders (Outsiders)
A man ahead of the times in bad weather…
But no, in all seriousness Pantano has all the credentials and abilities to go well tomorrow. He’s been climbing strongly in support of Contador all season but now has his own chance to chase a result. Or does he? There is a chance of him riding for race leader Felline, but I think Trek are best to keep their options open. Packing a fast sprint, he can certainly win the stage from a reduced group.
The climb is possibly just on the limit for the Italian, considering the length of it, but with its relatively shallow gradients he could hang on. Not afraid to attack or hold out for the sprint in that situation, it will be interesting to see how he plays it if he’s still there!
Going to the Giro in support of Dumoulin, Kelderman hasn’t had many race days so far this year, only 11 in fact! Two of those were at the Ardennes and he’s slowly regained his race speed and form. He put in a fairly solid TT today and will want to test himself at some point in the mountains. Tomorrow could be as good a day as any!
I’ll go for Mary Poppins himself, JarlinsonPantano to take the win! We’ll see an attack on the final ramp by some of the favourites and Pantano will mark it out, with Felline behind. The Colombian will then win the ensuing sprint. Valverde’s not here to beat him this time!
1.5pt EW Pantano @10/1 with Bet365
0.25pt EW Bilbao @80/1
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. I hope we get an unaltered stage and an exciting days worth of racing! Anyway,
Short of time again so there’s no full GC preview from me but here are a few quick thoughts.
The weather forecast for the week looks grim, so that certainly suits some riders more than others and wet roads could make some of the descents very treacherous. Nonetheless, it looks to be a two-horse race this between Porte and Froome.
Porte hasn’t raced in over a month since Paris Nice, where he was left bitterly disappointed after losing time in the crosswinds on the opening stages. However, he was sublime and put 21 seconds into a flying Contador on the Queen Stage. It’s the best I think I’ve seen the Australian climb and he’ll want to show well here again to gain a psychological advantage over his old team-mate.
Likewise, Froome also hasn’t raced for close to a month, with his last outing being in Catalunya where he once again was caught out in splits near the start of a stage. None of that matters though to Froome and his season starts here. Without a win this year, he’ll want to change that here and look to seal the title before going to the Dauphiné. Thomas was flying when he came back from South Africa and I expect the same from Froome this time too.
Can anyone stop them? Not really, no! However, Izagirre, Roglic, Spilak, Yates and Pantano will hope to go close and take 3rd place on the podium.
I’ll go for a Porte win. That climbing display in Paris Nice was truly impressive and he’ll just edge Froome, before the tables are turned at the Dauphiné.
Right, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the opening day.
Short, but sharp opening prologue for the riders to tackle.
You can view an interactive profile of the route here.
With a few technical turns this prologue isn’t all about raw power, with good bike handling skills also being essential if you want to set a very fast time.
There’s not much to the terrain with it mostly being flat, but we do get a kilometre long drag of roughly 2% from 1.8km -> 2.8km. From there, the riders descend quickly before another few hundred metres at 2% before the flat run to the line.
And that’s that for the route, short and sweet like the effort!
As is often the case in Romandie, bad weather looks set to play a part in the race.
It doesn’t look like it will be too bad tomorrow, with most of the rain supposedly falling in the evening. However, there is a chance for a few showers as we get later into the afternoon. Will some of the GC riders go out earlier hoping to avoid them?!
A prologue like this is incredibly wide open. Getting my excuses in early! TT specialists will fancy their chances but so will sprinters and strong all rounders.
This list could be very long if I wanted it to, but since I’m in a bit of a rush and I’m not a fan of naming 20 riders, I’ll pick a select few and try to give reasons as to why they can win the stage. Several favourites will be left out but what else would you expect?!
Once of the riders blessed by going out in better conditions last year, he avoided the rain which made the descent treacherous, taking the win on the opening day. There isn’t as much climbing in the prologue this year but I would argue that he’s going in much better shape than this time last year. After a very successful Ardennes week (12th was his worst finish) he seems to be bang in form and will be looking to equal last year’s performance.
Another man who has been plagued by the Haughey Curse, I had picked him for the prologue last year at 200/1.
He was going well too, until he came to grief on the rainy descent. This year he seems to be in equally impressive form with no worse than a 7th place in the Ardennes this week. Known as Mr Romandie, he has 6 stage wins to his name here and he should make it seven at some point this week. Will that be tomorrow?
The second Swiss rider to make the list and a former trackie, the BMC man won the Individual Pursuit World title in 2015. This type of short course should suit him perfectly and he’ll be fired up for his home race. Not having raced since Roubaix, it will be interesting to see what his form will be like, but he has every chance when the winning margin should be small!
Not a known TT rider, Felline has improved at the discipline over the past year and he finished a very respectable 5th in the TT in Andalucia back at the start of the season. An explosive rider who seems to be going reasonably well, he has a good chance of upsetting the applecart.
Of course there are many others who could get involved and we might even see Porte and Froome feature at the head of the field.
Mr Romandie to take his seventh stage win, smashing the TT and hopefully staying up-right this time!
I think we might see the two big GC favourites get close to the podium as well.
I wouldn’t normally bet on the GC but because of the price I will;
2pts EW Porte at 9/2 with Bet365.
He has a good chance of winning, but should podium barring any disaster. Safe in the sense that stakes are returned if he does.
Prologue picks, all with B365 as well;
Albasini 1pt EW @ 28/1
Froome 0.25pt EW @40/1
Porte 0.25pt EW @50/1
Thanks for reading as always, I should have a longer preview out for the first road stage. Anyway,