Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-4

Abu Dhabi Tour – Stage 4 Preview

Course:

The final stage of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour is a 143km criterium style affair, comprising 26 laps of the Yas Marina F1 race circuit. Silky smooth tarmac and sweeping turns look to be ideal conditions for another bunch kick to draw this year’s race to a close and likely crown Tanel Kangert 2016’s champion. The final few turns could cause problems for a few of the sprinters as the finishing straight does not come until 250m from the line; positioning will be crucial to have any chance of winning here.

Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-4

Contenders:

Mark Cavendish took the win on Stage 2 and shall be favourite to do so again on the final stage as a result of André Greipel’s withdrawal ahead of the start on Stage 3. Dimension-Data have already demonstrated their ability to navigate Cavendish into position despite their smaller squad size and are certain to be the wheel to follow heading into the final metres.

Giacomo Nizzolo took advantage of his late season form when winning Stage 1, catching several of the bigger name sprinters napping by latching onto the Dimension-Data leadout to slingshot himself to victory. This finale should suit him even more, the late final turn making it a contest of positioning and acceleration instead of pure speed like we saw on the opening two stages.

John Degenkolb bailed out of the sprint on Stage 2 due to some risky moves from other riders heading into the last turn and will be hoping he can makes his time here worthwhile with a win on the final stage. His leadout is one of the strongest here, but has not necessarily shown enough when it matters most to truly hammer home this fact.

Elia Viviani was left disappointed by Cavendish’s win on Stage 2, having already stated that he shall be out for revenge on the final day to reverse his fortunes. The Italian has an explosive acceleration and his race craft honed on the track means his positional abilities to hit the front at the key moment are always a threat to rivals.

Others who could all challenge for a podium place are Andrea Guardini, Magnus Cort NielsenChristopher Latham and Steele Von Hoff.

Outcome:

1st Giacomo Nizzolo 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd Elia Viviani

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Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-4

Abu Dhabi Tour – Stage 3 Preview

Course:

After two days of sailing through the desert, Stage 3 finally provides a significant uphill challenge to the peloton as the race looks to rearrange the general classification with a testing climb to the finish line. The 150km journey from Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet is another predominantly flat affair, teeing up the climbers for the ascent to the line which is certain to decide this year’s overall winner of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Having stayed safe throughout the day’s flat section, those with an eye on victory shall begin the 10.8km climb which averages 6.6% and possesses a maximum of 11% just before it eases ahead of the finish. With this in mind, any rider with a potent kick who survives the initial selection process upon the lower slopes will become a clear favourite to win the day.

Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-3

Contenders:

Vincenzo Nibali has ridden relatively lightly since this year’s Tour de France and was one of the main protagonists on this same stage last year; his crash at the Olympic Road Race keeping him off the bike until now. The Italian could sign off from his time at Astana with a final victory ahead of his move across to the brand new Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team for 2017. There is certainly no doubt that Nibali will survive the ascent and he has a brilliant chance of winning if he manages to ditch the strong puncheurs before making a move in the final kilometres.

Alberto Contador is another big name rider leaving his team at the end of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour, leaving the histrionic Oleg Tinkov’s eponymous squad to join a rejuvenated Trek-Segafredo for 2017. Contador had not raced since his fourth place finish at the Vuelta a España, so is somewhat of a mystery in regards to anticipating his form right now. This shorter ascent may not play to his strengths which have seen him dominate grand tours for so long, but there is no reason to think he cannot at least follow the main contenders.

Diego Ulissi could catch the climbers napping here if he manages to stay in contention during the ascent and then strike out with one of his famous uphill sprints. Given that the road does ease ahead of the summit, Ulissi has a strong chance of putting the purer climbers to bed with on well timed attack within view of the finish line as nobody can match him upon his favoured terrain.

Andrey Amador has a rare chance to lead Movistar in the absence of both Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, no doubt looking to make this opportunity count by winning today’s summit finish. He has enjoyed a successful year while riding in support of his team leaders and is sure to view this as a golden chance to add to his sole career win; a statistic difficult to believe.

Nicolas Roche looks to be Sky’s best chance of featuring well today, the Irishman arriving in Abu Dhabi to sign off from his time at the British outfit ahead of his move to BMC next year. He is a strong climber and is actually quite a potent finisher when required to go head to head with a rival for the win.

Other names who could all cause a stir are Davide RebellinTanel KangertThomas De GendtAlexandr KolobnevChristopher Latham and Michal Kwiatkowski.

Outcome:

1st Diego Ulissi 2nd Alberto Contador 3rd Vincenzo Nibali

Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-4

Abu Dhabi Tour – Stage 2 Preview

Course:

A rather brief day in the saddle forms Stage 2 of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour, based in and around the emirate’s capital city and offering almost nothing in regards to elevation. Once again the roads are wide tarmac boulevards which provide a breakaway no hope of surviving life outside of the main bunch right the way to the finish. The usual array of city based furniture populates the day’s course, with the finale itself simplified yet further still as the finishing straight widens once again to give the sprinters an ideal platform to strut their stuff.
Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-2

Contenders:

Mark Cavendish is not willing to wallow in the result of Doha last weekend and was not far from winning the first stage of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour as he seeks to return to the top step of the podium. His leadout worked well, though inadvertently provided Giacomo Nizzolo the perfect support to launch himself to victory and confirm the Italian’s form right now. Cavendish tends not to make mistakes more than once and it is easy to see him remedying yesterday’ result at the first time of asking.

Giacomo Nizzolo seems to have benefited from a relatively light race schedule since May’s Giro d’Italia and is now riding an encouraging wave of form off the back of last weekend’s World Championships in Doha. Despite lacking a brilliant leadout, he weaved his way through the maelstrom and ultimately took advantage of the Dimension-Data train to deliver himself into the perfect position to take the win. His performance was dominant by the time second place John Degenkolb crossed the line and it now looks like Nizzolo will be a tough man to beat in Abu Dhabi.

John Degenkolb has managed to bring with him a strong sprint focused team, despite squads being limited to only six riders at this race. The German rider is hoping to salvage some wins from a year marred by an early season traffic collision which caused serious damage and kept him off the bike for sometime. Degenkolb’s progress has been very encouraging in the late season and there looks to be momentum pushing him onwards to his best form; there shall be no surprise if he wins here.

André Greipel was absent from yesterday’s sprint for reasons still unknown, thus making it tough to know exactly where he stands heading into the second stage. His team Lotto-Soudal were working on the front of the peloton during the day, so it would seem that some sort of mechanical is responsible for his inability to contest the finale. Without knowing any details it is rsiky to back him, but if he is 100% to contest stage honours, then he should win this finish which favours power based sprinters.

Magnus Cort Nielsen confirmed expectations yesterday and only just missed out on a top three placing after surfing the wheels efficiently enough to place him in contention. If Orica-BikeExchange can provide better support for the young sprinter during the final kilometre, then Nielsen has a great chance of winning on Stage 2.

Andrea Guardini and Elia Viviani were both disappointing on the opening stage, each finishing outside the top ten on a finish which would normally see their names inside the top five placings. After such a poor start to their race, these Italian sprinters shall each be wanting to be amongst the frontrunners once again as soon as possible.

Outcome:

1st John Degenkolb 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd Giacomo Nizzolo

Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-4

Abu Dhabi Tour – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

The suggestion of a few bumps during today’s racing will seem like mountains in comparison to the other sprinters’ stages on offer this week, stretching uninterrupted for miles on flat tarmac roads through the desert landscape. Stage 1 is an 147km out and back trip from Madina Zayed, taking in a few meters of climbing as they roll over dune styled hills, ultimately spending the most part of the day on featureless terrain. A smattering of turns appear in anticipation of the finish line, though the last kilometre itself is a wide finishing straight which should favour those who often dominate a drag race to the finish.

Abu-Dhabi-Tour-Stage-1

Contenders:

Mark Cavendish will wish to return to winning ways after having to settle for silver in Doha last weekend and is no doubt highly motivated to do so. The British sprinter does not possess his full arsenal of team support for the sprints, but a combo of Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel has seen him through plenty of days in the saddle safely enough en route to victory.

André Greipel was initially seen as a favourite for the world title in Qatar, but the potent tactics of the Belgian teams meant the desert wind cut him from the lead group and immediately ended his hopes of a medal. Greipel’s leadout train is far from the familiar wheels he normally follows in the final kilometres of racing, but the simple finishing straight should prove perfect territory for him to hammer out the watts.

John Degenkolb had initially made it across to the front echelon in Doha after the race was blown to pieces, yet suffered a mechanical and ultimately drifted back to endure Germany’s failings with his teammates. He arrives in Abu Dhabi with Koen De Kort and Ramon Sinkeldam to set him up in the sprints, eager to rectify his dose of misfortune at the world championships by picking up a stage win.

Giacomo Nizzolo performed better than expected in pursuit of the rainbow bands last weekend and looks to be in great form as the season reaches its end. The Italian may struggle with the lack of technical finishes at this race, so will need to deliver his sprint perfectly if he is to challenge the likes of Cavendish and Greipel.

Elia Viviani picked up two wins here last year, bringing with him fast finishers Owain Doull and Danny Van Poppel on this occasion in hope of repeating his success. Much of 2016 has been spent focusing on track racing ahead of the Olympics, resulting in a gold medal, so there is uncertainty as to his road form right now.

Magnus Cort Nielsen announced himself to the pro ranks by snatching two stage wins in the final week of this year’s Vuelta a España. He will however be sharing duties with Michael Matthews in Abu Dhabi and there is a reasonable chance they shall look to support the Australian instead today.

Other riders hoping to feature in the mix for the win are Sacha ModoloAndrea GuardiniJean-Pierre Drucker and Steele Von Hoff.

Outcome:

1st André Greipel 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd John Degenkolb

World Road Race Championship 2017 (Qatar)

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016 – MEN’S ROAD RACE PREVIEW

Course:

Though a grand tour title or clutch of classics victories may guarantee a rider’s name in the history books, it is only the World Championships which provide the winner with a set of rainbow bands to be worn throughout the entirety of the following season. It is a rare occasion for a rider’s peak to overlap perfectly with a World Championship course tailored neatly to their strengths, especially given the forever changing choice of venue for the contest. This year’s host is the somewhat controversial Qatari capital of Doha, a nation far from known for its love of professional cycling, while also providing the type of weather which would normally render people disinterested from even sitting in the sun; let alone riding a bike.

Rolling out from the inspirational sounding Aspire Zone, it will take the peloton 257.3km to cross the finish line at The Pearl via an almost featureless route. With this in mind, it appears to be the day’s weather which is most likely to fuel any drama during the race, with teams such as Belgium and The Netherlands eager to take advantage of potentially strong desert winds by splitting the race to pieces through forming echelons. The regions scorching sun has already proven to be an issue during the preceding World Championship events, pushing riders to the brink of heat exhaustion on occasion. Perhaps more than any other edition of the World Championships in recent years, the importance to conserve energy and avoid going into the red will be paramount to those with a chance of winning; riders with a maximum roster of fully committed teammates at their disposal could thus possess a sizeable advantage.

A 15.2km circuit will form the final 120.4km of this year’s race, comprising numerous sweeping bends and roundabouts, but essentially an easy enough course to navigate safely. The trickiest part once the pace reaches its maximum will be a series of tight hairpin turns which can immediately open up gaps amongst the peloton, forcing those at the back to sprint hard in an attempt to stay with the frontrunners. These tight bends feature in the final kilometres, the last of which exits onto the flamme rouge and into the one kilometre long stretch to the finish line. It looks certain to be a reasonably sized bunch kick which crowns 2016’s champion, but given the innate unpredictability of a single day in the saddle, there are no promises to be made in Doha.

World Road Race Championship 2017 (Qatar)

Contenders:

Mark Cavendish had recently been laid low by illness and has not enjoyed an ideal preparation, instead finding himself recovering in bed for several days rather than tapering his form ahead of the big day. Having previously won the World Championships in 2011, the British rider knows what it takes to sustain a serious bid in pursuit of the rainbow bands and has confidently stated that his team for 2016 is superior to that of his previously victorious world’s squad. There is no doubt that he can handle the distance when in ideal form, has proven success in these Middle Eastern races, has assembled an extremely fast looking leadout train and knows how to navigate the maelstrom of the sprint. Surprisingly overlooked by many for this chance of becoming a double World Champion, his awkward preparation may have been a blessing in disguise, masking his form and arriving in Doha slightly out of the spotlight.

André Greipel is able to churn out enormous power to dominate these drag race style sprints to the line and has been focusing upon his build-up to this event with immense precision. There are suggestions that he may not be able to handle the distance, but given his performance at this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen and victory on the 233km Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia, he has shown that this is not necessarily the case anymore. His biggest hindrance is likely to be the team at his disposal, a German squad of only five other riders; two of which are the questionably supportive Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, while Tony Martin is no doubt still recovering from his world title winning time trial performance. This truly only leaves Nils Politt and Jasha Sütterlin to protect Greipel throughout the day as he looks to conserve his energy as best as possible. It might be a struggle to get a good position ahead of the finish without the quality leadout he is normally used to, but the wide and straight final kilometre does look perfect for Greipel to bury his rivals en route to becoming the first German World Champion since Rudi Altig in 1966.

Alexander Kristoff secured the points classification at the Tour of Qatar in 2016 and 2015, winning the same three stages in both editions, thus demonstrating his ability to perform in these testing conditions. The Norwegian rider has not enjoyed a vintage year, but he is well versed in rising to the top at such long races despite lacking sparkling form in 2016. A simple sprint over 600m would not place Kristoff in the same league as many of the contenders, yet the same exercise after more than 250km of racing can compensate for this greatly and will be a definite threat to the obvious favourites as a result. He boasts a strong team at his disposal and may even have the chance to call upon compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen to lead him out; another rider who has found success in these desert races.

Peter Sagan will have won an even greater number of fans during his stewardship of the rainbow jersey, delivering a year long series of victories and incredible performances to secure the prestigious jersey one of its finest ever seasons on the shoulders of a World Champion. The potentially gruelling nature of this year’s race could once again bring Sagan into contention as this 257.3km race reaches its final stages, even more so off the back of some of his finest bunch sprints in recent years during 2016. He is a master of weaving between the wheels, staying out of trouble and only making his presence felt when victory is within touching distance; an anonymous Sagan for much of the day could indicate a similar performance as to Richmond last year which first earned him the rainbow bands.

Fernando Gaviria demonstrated his immense turn of speed at the biggest races in 2016, while also proving that 200km+ routes are already within his capabilities. There is not a brilliant Colombian team for him to call upon, primarily due to those assembled around Gaviria being poorly suited to the extremely flat Doha course. However, if things play out fortuitously for Gaviria, there is no doubt that he can out sprint the bigger names here.

Dylan Groenewegen is another young rider who has already proven to have the speed necessary to better some of cycling’s biggest names in the sprints. The Dutch rider has been provided with a convincingly strong leadout train, one which may prove to have the engine power to drag Groenewegen into an ideal position to sprint from; Tom Dumoulin and Niki Terpstra likely to make life tougher for their rivals. The greatest issue is whether or not the young Dutchman can indeed survive the course in a good enough condition to even contest the likely sprint finish.

Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo offer a definite headache for the Italian selectors as to who should truly be the protected rider in a bunch kick. In a simple question of speed, Viviani is the proven rider capable of beating top sprinters such as André Greipel and Mark Cavendish; whereas Giacomo Nizzolo is better equipped to handle a 257.3km race which may become incredibly gruelling. The Italian squad is a convincing leadout train, and if the selectors are only interested in the win, then they would be best to invest everything in to working for the faster Viviani, but a tougher race will immediately swing favour to Nizzolo.

Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Démare are posing a similar selection headache for France, though their talents contrast far more clearly than that of the Italian sprinters. Bouhanni is one of the few contenders to have part of his trade team’s leadout train present alongside him here, but the work of Geoffrey Soupe and Christophe Laporte has not been consistent in 2016 and may not prove to be as big an advantage as others perceive. His incredible acceleration and tenacity (some would describe it less positively) make him a dangerman amongst a hectic sprint, while his documented ability to survive harder races than this of similar distances means he should be there to battle it out at the end. Arnaud Démare is in great form in the latter stages of the season once again and is a rider who has already tasted success with the rainbow bands at U23 level. He certainly lacks the speed required to beat the majority of favourites, but a race made harder by the likes of The Netherlands or Belgium for example would diminish the field and bring Démare to the fore without a doubt. Victory at Milan-San Remo demonstrates his ability to cope with the demands of 250km of racing, but plenty will state that Bouhanni’s mechanical in the final moments is what truly delivered victory to Démare.

World Championships are not afraid of producing unexpected winners, so riders worth keeping an eye upon include: Marcel KittelMichael MatthewsCaleb EwanRamunas NavardauskasJohn DegenkolbTom BoonenEdvald Boasson Hagen and Matti Breschel.

Outcome:

Though there are teams eager to make life difficult and hope to fracture the race early on, it seems certain that the large amount of nations seeking a relatively simple sprint finish will ensure we are offered the most hotly contested bunch gallop of 2016. There are a few technical aspects late on, with the most focus being placed upon the final turn into the deciding kilometre up to the finish line, a corner in which the race may be lost for several riders. The final kilometre is an almost perfectly straight run into the finish on a wide tarmac road, ideal territory for those able to put out big watts to seize the day and the rainbow jersey. With this in mind, André Greipel and Mark Cavendish soon emerge as the clear contenders to lead the charge to the line, leaning slightly more so towards the German due to Cavendish’s recent illness; the British team is far superior however. Alexander KristoffPeter SaganNacer Bouhanni and Fernando Gaviria all have the speed to be in the mix, no doubt ensuring the final kilometre is more thrilling than the entire preceding 256.3km of racing.

1st André Greipel 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd Fernando Gaviria

World Road Race Championship 2017 (Qatar)

World Championships 2016 – Men’s Individual Time Trial Preview

Course:

Traditionally a race against the clock, this year’s individual time trial shall have the added protagonist of the desert sun added into the equation, ensuring life become even more gruelling as the riders aim to leave nothing left in the tank as they cross the line in pursuit of the career changing rainbow bands. A relatively simple affair which stretches for 40km over smooth tarmac, this year’s contest is near enough a drag race from start to finish, with only a few roundabouts to break up the rhythm of the riders as they travel from Lusail to The Pearl. As already demonstrated by the women’s time trial yesterday, the heat’s ability to accelerate fatigue can be mismanaged and ultimately tip a rider to the point of heat exhaustion in only a few kilometres of being in the red. Although plenty of riders today shall have already gained a glimpse of the roads during the team time trial a few days ago, the true attritional nature of riding this discipline alone will have been somewhat disguised during the team event. With no opportunities to balance efforts on ascents and descents, once each rider is up to speed, there is little pause in cadence or effort until they cross the finish line. This unusual course and location is sure to last as an impressive conquest for whoever leaves Qatar with a scorched set of rainbow bands upon their shoulders.

World Time Trial Championship 2017 (Qatar)

Contenders:

Tony Martin appears to be in great form heading into the contest today and finally suggests the kind of condition which has previously secured him a trio of world championship titles. However, his season has not always been encouraging leading into this major target and there have been blips as Martin tinkered between his ideal position on the bike. Looking at his year as a whole, it is not the broad array of victories normally seen in a favourite for a world title, but his class is timeless and there is a strong possibility he will seize upon a peak in form to take victory in Qatar.

Tom Dumoulin‘s rise to the top table of time trialists has been impressive, though has stalled somewhat as a result of his growing ambition to challenge for the general classification at major stage races. The Dutchman has endured a tough season and may now already find his body anticipating winter’s rest before he rolls off the start ramp. There is a clear lack of recent results to mark him out as the favourite, yet his innate talent ensures that a medal is certainly within his grasp still. The course is too simplistic for him in regards to topography, but he might be able to make some minor gains during the more technically demanding turns and roundabouts.

Rohan Dennis left the Olympics clearly disappointed by his performance in the time trial and has since chosen to refocus in an attempt to remedy that by going for gold here. His preparation has been the most consistent of all the main contenders, recording great performances at both the Tour of Britain and Eneco Tour, arriving here with confidence to spare. The nature of the course should allow him to lay down the power from end to end, but it is his lack of convincing performances over similar distances which raises doubts as to his hopes of burying his opposition for certain.

Jonathan Castroviejo has returned to his best when it comes to racing against the clock in 2016 and shall now be seriously pushing for a medal at this year’s world championship. He has played down his chances due to the incredibly flat nature of the course, though this has not always prevented him from matching the best in such contests, while both distance or temperature has the potential to level the playing field yet further still. Throughout the season he has matched the very best at some of the biggest races and it would not be a great surprise to see him breakthrough to take the win here today.

Victor Campenaerts looks to be well-suited to the task at hand and will hope to end his season with a performance which demonstrates just how brilliantly he has been riding in the time trials as of late. He finished second to Jonathan Castroviejo at the European Games and demonstrated his ability to perform well on long flat courses such as this on several occasions this year. Certainly worth watching throughout the day, Campenaerts definitely has a chance of sneaking into the medal places at the expense of a bigger name.

Others deserving of a mention are Vasil KiryienkaTaylor PhinneyAlex Dowsett and Jos Van Emden.

Outcome:

1st Jonathan Castroviejo 2nd Tony Martin 3rd Rohan Dennis

Paris – Tours Preview 2016

Course:

One of the most historic races in professional cycling, Paris – Tours has long been one of the final contests to bring the curtain down upon another year of racing and specifically stands as a final opportunity for the peloton’s sprinters to secure glory before winter calls time on another season. Somewhat altered in 2016 due to the anticipation of the oncoming World Championships, this year’s course has removed the usual decisive late hills and also added around an extra 20km of racing; both as an attempt to liken it to the demands of Doha’s contest to crown this year’s World Champion. As a result of these changes, the quality of sprinters at Paris – Tours this year has increased greatly, promising a thrilling showdown amongst some of the fastest men on two wheels before the big day in Qatar. For the challenge at hand, the riders will travel a total of 252.5km from Dreux to Tours, a relatively tame passage which should prove easy enough to control for 2016’s peloton, thanks to a much stronger field of bunch sprint focused teams. Attacks from breakaway hopefuls are bound to occur once the peloton near the finish with 30km – 50km still remaining, but the likelihood is that we will see a hotly contested sprint in Tours, as some of cycling’s most talented fast-men duke it out for glory and a glimpse as to the future of 2016’s rainbow bands.

Paris - Tours Preview 2016

Contenders:

Fernando Gaviria is part of a formidable Etixx – QuickStep team which boasts Tom Boonen, Zdeněk Štybar and last year’s winner Matteo Trentin. There are certainly questions regarding who exactly they shall back for the win today, but given Gaviria’s superior speed and encouraging form, he should be their ideal candidate to contest race honours here. He has proven able to handle such distances well and few teams will be able to match either the firepower or experience at his disposal if given the nod to lead the team today.

Nacer Bouhanni should be one of the fastest men left in contention as the race reaches Tours, possessing a leadout train which can deliver him perfectly into position, though this has proven inconsistent during the season. His performance at Milan – San Remo earlier in the year demonstrated his ability to cope with long races and he arrives here off the back of several great showings in recent weeks; Bouhanni may well prove to be the man to beat late on.

Arnaud Démare took victory at Binche – Chimay – Binche with an extremely powerful sprint which he initiated far ahead of where any of his rivals would have expected him to do so. Such a move secured him victory, but also demonstrated that the Frenchman is both in great strength and extremely confident heading into this penultimate race before the World Championships. Victory at Milan – San Remo in the Spring reminded people of just how strong Démare is, though it will be tough for today’s race to reflect a similarly attritional contest despite being 252.5km long; unless the day’s crosswinds prove more severe than expected. His team FDJ will commit everything to ensuring a bunch sprint and have grown to become a surprise package in the leadout battle in recent months, promising Démare a great chance of another late season victory.

Caleb Ewan is potentially the fast sprinter at this year’s edition and has enjoyed a good level of consistent form at the end of this summer, but his recent appearance at the Eneco tour was certainly less inspiring. A simple drag race would make Ewan the favourite here, instead he has to contend with numerous talented sprinters and their attempts to get a better run at the finish line than him. Though his Orica – GreenEDGE leadout is strong, it has suffered from inconsistency throughout the year and has seen Ewan lost when positioning proves the difference between a win or a passing mention in the race results.

Elia Viviani will view today as an ideal chance to stamp his authority upon the Italian World Championship team ahead of compatriot Giacomo Nizzolo with a good performance in Tours. Certainly one of the fastest at this year’s race, Viviani will need Team Sky to be running smoothly if he is to have much hope of surviving the 252.5km in good enough condition to threaten the greater favourites.

Other names worth keeping an eye upon are Tom BoonenMark CavendishSam BennettJens Debusschere and Dan McLay.  

Outcome:

1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Fernando Gaviria 3rd Nacer Bouhanni