Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 6 Preview

Course:

The final day of 2016’s Tour of Oman should be one for the sprinters yet again, promising a blood and thunder finale poised to be decided by a drag race to the line. A total of 130.5km separate the riders from the start at The Wave Muscat to Matrah Corniche, encompassing two categorised climbs along the way before a rolling section which exits on to the flat final few kilometres.

Oman

Contenders:

Alexander Kristoff will be confident of picking up another early season win here, the Norwegian is in imperious form once again in the Middle East and will surely be the man to beat on Stage 6. Moreno Hofland was not far behind Kristoff a few days ago in the sprint finish and there is no reason to think he cannot at least equal this result with such a strong leadout team in support of him. Jean-Pierre Drucker might not be a pure sprinter, but given the amount of climbing apparent in the later stages of today, he should be considered as a potential podium contender at the very least.

Outcome:

1st Alexander Kristoff 2nd Moreno Hofland 3rd Jean-Pierre Drucker

Oman

Rapido Guide: Stage 5 Tour of Oman Preview

Course:

After the hectic finale of the previous day’s conclusion upon Green Mountain, Stage 5 will offer a chance for the strongmen and puncheurs to steal the limelight back once again and secure glory on the penultimate day of the Tour of Oman. This 119.5km stage features three ascents of Al Amerat, draining the legs of any contender, but the finale itself should be a sprint thanks to a flat affair leading into the finish.

Oman

Contenders:
Greg Van Avermaet is sure to view this as his best chance of taking a win in Oman, his form certainly supporting his claim to Stage 5 honours, while his team support will prove a potent asset when it matters most here. Tom Dumoulin seems to be riding himself into better condition from one day to the next, his prowess against tough climbs has improved tremendously within the last year and it would be foolish to exclude him from contention on Stage 5. Speaking of those who appear to be improving their form day after day in Oman, Edvald Boasson Hagen could be back in the mix once again and take another stage win from the anticipated reduced sprint. 

Outcome:

1st Greg Van Avermaet 2nd Edvald Boasson Hagen 3rd Tom Dumoulin

Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 4 Preview

Course:

The decisive Green Mountain finish is included once again at the Tour of Oman, poised to shake up the general classification by the end of day four. The preceding kilometres of this 177km stage are relatively simple enough and will no doubt give the breakaway time to do their thing before being caught around the base of Green Mountain. The ascent is 7.5km in length and has an agonising 10.7% average gradient, but the concluding 4km are what shall break the legs of many here; the roads reaching as high as 13% before the finish line is within view.

Omsn

Contenders:

Domenico Pozzovivo has encouraging form upon this testing climb and looks to be in fantastic condition so far in Oman, the Italian will be a strong contender on a finale which plays to his strengths convincingly so. His AG2R La Mondiale teammate Romain Bardet offers a strong dynamic between the two of them on this crucial stage, perhaps one attacking first in order to allow the other to follow on the coat-tails of their rivals; Bardet will need to be watched for sure. Vincenzo Nibali has given us a small indication of his form so far here and will be all too aware that he only needs a few seconds to secure the leader’s jersey today on stage which is within is abilities to perform upon. Other riders such as Serge PauwelsDan Martin and Jacques Janse van Rensburg are worth keeping an eye upon too.

Outcome:

1st Domenico Pozzovivo 2nd Dan Martin 3rd Romain Bardet

Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 3 Preview

Course:

The sprinters should come to the fore on Stage 3 of the Tour of Oman, stealing the limelight back from the puncheurs and climbers who have dominated proceedings up to now in this race. The latter part of the day rolls downwards to the finish at Naseem Park after 176.5km of racing, likely to prove the perfect drag race for the fast men to contest the win.
Oman
Contenders:

Alexander Kristoff is sure to be the man to beat on Stage 2, the Norwegian appearing strong once again at the early part of the season and is surely poised to add to his 2016 tally. Edvald Boasson Hagen’s form has been scintillating so far this year and cannot be discounted from featuring here despite the lack of ideal terrain for the current race leader. Moreno Hofland is certainly a man to watch here as the leadout train at his disposal could rival that of Katusha if everything goes well, though he will really need to be on top form to better Kristoff in the anticipated sprint.

Outcome:

1st Alexander Kristoff 2nd Moreno Hofland 3rd Edvald Boasson Hagen

Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 2 Preview

Course:

After yesterday’s impressive move by Bob Jungels secured him a surprise victory, Stage 2 could once again throw up a shock thanks to its undulating finale. A total of 162km from Omantel Head Office to Quriyat will be undertaken by the riders on the second day in Oman, concluding with a 2.8km ascent (avg 6.5%) to a summit finish poised to lure the puncheurs to the fore once again.
Oman Stage 2

Contenders:

BMC worked tirelessly yesterday in an attempt to tee up Greg Van Avermaet for the win, but came unstuck in the wake of Jungels’ perfectly timed attack. The Belgian will wish to rectify this as soon as possible in order to keep him in the race for the overall title and he no doubt possesses the required form to do so right now. Romain Bardet impressed yesterday when securing himself a third place finish and should be in contention for the win on Stage 2 as well; the lithe climber perhaps calling upon his Liége-Bastogne-Liége skills to push for victory here. A man who hinted towards promising condition yesterday was former World Champion Rui Costa, a rider well worth considering against an uphill finish such as this.

Outcome:

1st Romain Bardet 2nd Rui Costa 3rd Greg Van Avermaet

Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 1

Course:

The opening stage of 2016’s Tour of Oman should prove to be a lively finish once again, avoiding the lazy cliché of these early Middle Eastern stage races being dull from start to finish. This 145.5km stage’s finale has featured previously in Oman’s schedule and has so far proven to be a difficult outcome to forecast, failing to favour a specific type of rider each year. A tailwind should reduce the chances of the pure sprinters contesting the win, so all eyes are bound to be upon a potent mix of puncheurs and strong classics riders.

Oman

Contenders:

BMC are eager to compete for the win here in Oman and Greg Van Avermaet should be first in line to the lead charge for the American-Swiss outfit in pursuit of the first leader’s jersey. The Belgian was very lively in Qatar, clearly entering this race in strong condition ahead of a tilt at the overall win. Edvald Boasson Hagen shall be a strong adversary though, possessing the sort of skills which make him a danger to Avermaet’s ambitions, the Norwegian being strong enough to force a move late on or dominate a reduced sprint if required. One outside bet worth keeping an eye upon is Gianluca Brambilla, this type of finish suits him nicely and his early season form has been encouraging thus far in 2016.

Outcome:

1st Greg Van Avermaet 2nd Edvald Boasson Hagen 3rd Gianluca Brambilla

Dubai Tour

Rapido Guide: Dubai Tour Stage 4

Course:
Assuming that all goes to plan on the final day of this year’s Dubai Tour, the limelight should once again return upon the shoulders of the sprinters. A 137km finale to this increasingly popular race will see out the four days, a simple enough stage which should produce a frantic finish. With a few roundabouts and tight turns close to the line, there is still enough here to cause a surprise though.

Contenders:
Marcel Kittel looks to be in indomitable form right now and it is hard to see past him for the win on Stage 4. Another man enjoying a great start to the year is Giacomo Nizzolo, though he will have his work cut out in order to get past the powerful German here. His leadouts are certainly inconsistent, but should everything fall into place today for Elia Viviani, he is one of the few with potentially a potent enough turn of speed to beat Kittel.

Outcome:
1st Marcel Kittel 2nd Giacomo Nizzolo 3rd Elia Viviani

Dubai Tour

Rapido Guide: Dubai Tour Stage 3

Course:
The harsh desert will feature more prominently on Stage 3, leaving the city roads which we have become accustomed as the peloton seek out the lumps and bumps of the surrounding area. Similar to last year’s stage which finished atop the Hatta Dam, Stage 3 will once again be an uphill finish but has reduced the amount of hills preceding it to make a less selective process. A total of 172km from start to finish, climbs en route to Hatta reach double-digit gradients and will certainly drain the legs before any sprint for the line can be ignited. The final selection will begin 3km from the finish as the road rises right the way to the line, gradients here reach as high as 17% and are poised to be the setting of another fantastic uphill battle.

Contenders:
Despite a reputation for poor positioning, the expectation of having greater support here than last year should help Juan José Lobato to build on his 3rd place in 2015 if everything goes to plan. Philippe Gilbert stretched his legs on Stage 1 in the concluding moments of the race and appears in strong condition on a finish which should play to his strengths convincingly on day three. The alteration to this year’s latter stages to Hatta Dam could make it a more open affair, possibly bringing somebody such as Rui Costa into contention, should he find himself in good form; his target usually lie a little later in the year however.

Outcome:
1st Juan José Lobato 2nd Philippe Gilbert 3rd Rui Costa

Dubai Tour

Rapido Guide: Dubai Tour Stage 2

Course:
The term ‘pancake flat’ seems created for this second day upon the scorching sands of Dubai, a 188km journey which comprises almost entirely of long and flat desert roads. An underwater tunnel features just ahead of the final kilometers, turning the riders onto the day’s finish upon an artificial island. Though some roundabouts are apparent, the final 3km are almost entirely straight right the way to the finish; an ideal finale for a big power sprinter. Wind is likely to be the greatest factor during the run in and could well cause serious problems as the leadout teams begin shaping up in the concluding kilometers.

Contenders:
Marcel Kittel must surely be the man to beat once again on day two, his form appears to be potent already and his support always places him well before unleashing everything for the finishing line. Mark Cavendish was in the mix on the first day, but seemed somewhat sluggish to make his move and ended up going the long way round to follow Kittel; he looks sharp regardless though and will rival the German. Trek demonstrated an impressive leadout in the name of Giacomo Nizzolo on the first day and almost delivered him a win against the odds, especially as the stage itself did not suit his abilities perfectly; his form is clear and will threaten again.

Outcome:
1st Marcel Kittel 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd Giacomo Nizzolo

Rutland-Melton-CiCLE-Classic-2015-Spokenforks

Spokies Awards 2015/16 – Winners

The official ‘Spokies’ return belatedly this week to announce the winners of 2016’s awards, as well as the results of our debut inclusion of the public voting polls, discovering who your champions were last season. From the thunderous classics which raised the curtain in 2015 to one of the most exciting World Championships in recent years, the season offered drama in spades from start to finish; while controversy never seemed far away either. Our usual choice of Spokenforks favourite moments and riders from 2015 are also in the mix as ever, offering insight as to who or what caught the public’s imagination the greatest during the year.

Public Polls

Best Grand Tour of 2015 – Giro d’Italia

It was the battle for the maglia rosa which inspired you the most in 2015, the Giro d’Italia dominating the voting to be crowned the best grand tour of the year. The race itself was an unpredictable affair for the most part, demonstrated by the fact we did not see a repeat stage winner in the opening two weeks of the race. This fact was turned on its head during the final week however, as all but the final stage’s unexpected winner was a rider who had already taken victory earlier in the race. Despite Astana’s stranglehold upon the mountains, Alberto Contador’s bad luck and mid-race injury, the Spaniard still emerged champion with a convincing winning margin atop the general classification. Other notable performers during the race were Iljo Keisse, Davide Formolo and Nicola Boem; all of whom took impressive and unexpected victories.

Best Team Kit – MTN-Qhubeka

Indulging your love for style and aesthetics, we asked you to pick the winner of the best kit for 2015 and the Notts County style stripes of MTN-Qhubeka proved to be the most popular. Though the choice of black within kit designs has become the norm recently, the African squad incorporated bold monochrome stripes and the golden yellow of their charity’s design to produce a unique kit which caught the eye with ease. Their colours were flown by grand tour stage winners Stephen Cummings (TdF Stage 14) and Kristian Sbaragli (Vuelta Stage 10); eventually closing their account of wins with an overall victory at the Tour of Britain courtesy of Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Best One Day Race – Paris-Roubaix

No other classic seems to capture people’s imagination quite like ‘The Hell of The North’, with 2015’s edition proving to be another full-throttle affair from start to finish. Much was made of Bradley Wiggins’ participation as a contender for the win, but despite his efforts to show his talents, John Degenkolb utilised a potent combination of tactical nous and strength to outmanoeuvre his rivals and lift the cobbled trophy. You could almost justify a noteworthy mention for any rider who successfully finished this brutal race, but to narrow it down some what, Luke Rowe, Martin Elmiger and Florian Senechal were three who impressed on the day in particular.

Hot Prospect 2016 – Caleb Ewan

It was always going to prove to be an interesting affair learning who you deemed to be the most exciting talent heading into the 2016 season. Perhaps serendipitously, our belated announcements have demonstrated that you know exactly what you are talking about; Caleb Ewan is red hot. Having won all of the Bay Crits, Caleb Ewan started the Tour Down Under with the pressure to seize the crown as the race’s man to beat in the sprints and he did not falter. The young Australian showcased his incredible turn of pace and unique low slung sprinting position in style, securing Ewan two wins which bookended his time at the race and sent out a warning to the old guards of the WorldTour’s sprint finishes.

Official Spokies Awards

Domestic Rider of the Year – Peter Williams


The biggest stage for the British domestic teams on home soil each year is The Tour of Britain, a week long race which tasks the plucky upstarts of the nation’s scene to cause a stir and perhaps catch the WorldTour professionals napping. During 2015, ONE Pro Cycling did nothing to hide their ambitions of climbing towards the very top of the sport, with their showing at The Tour of Britain a definite springboard towards their confirmation as a ProContinental team for 2016. It was Peter Williams who served up the greatest glory for the British team in the face of tough competition however, walking away as King of The Mountains once the week was over; bettering his domestic rival Thomas Stewart by just two points.

Domestic Race – British National Road Race Championship

Podium

No race came close to matching the atmosphere and drama of the British title race upon Lincoln’s famous Grand Prix course; including the legendary Michaelgate. For those who had already seen Peter Kennaugh win upon the GP course a couple of years previous, it seemed certain throughout the day that he would be walking away once again in the red, white and blue bands. It was the performance of Mark Cavendish though which really impressed many stood on the cobbled hill, only just being edged out by his fellow Manxman on a course which many presumed unlikely to feature Cavendish towards the final stages. The women’s race was no different either, leading us neatly on to the next award…

Rider of The Year – Lizzie Armitstead

Of all the riders who tackled the Michaelgate during the British championship, nobody soared up the cobbled climb with such effortless ease and fluidity as Lizzie Armitstead did. The British title was accompanied by an overall World Cup win and ended the year with her hands upon the rainbow jersey as well. Armitstead’s ride at Richmond blended tactical nous and her imperious form to potent effect, adapting throughout the race as breakaways came and went, before then keeping a cool head late on when inadvertently sitting at the front of affairs as the sprint began to wind up and taking the win.

Controversial Moment – Motorbikes

A freak anomaly or a sign of the times, at one point in 2015 it felt like a race could not pass without some incident involving motorbikes and riders. From inadvertently aiding Adam Yates en route to winning San Sebastian to hitting Peter Sagan to the ground only a couple of weeks before the World Championships; much was made of bike vs moto etiquette during the season. There is no doubt that 2016 will serve to demonstrate lessons learned hopefully and highlight the previous year as the anomaly it surely was.

Surprise Winner – Ilnur Zakarin at Tour de Romandie

Ilnur Zakarin schooled plenty of big name riders as to why you simply cannot underestimate a man in top form as they sat and watched him defend his lead at the Tour de Romandie convincingly. A huge ride to Champex-Lac delivered him the lead, but few expected him to maintain it during the final day’s time trial; Simon Spilak, Chris Froome and Thibaut Pinot all falling short despite their best efforts to reel him back. Zakarin would go on to catch the peloton napping once again at the Giro d’Italia, taking the honours on Stage 11’s ride into Imola.

– Thank you to everyone who voted in the first ever Spokies public polls, keep in touch here or via @spokenforks during this year and we will be back in the blink of an eye for Spokies 2016.