Milan - Sanremo 2018 Race Preview

Rapido Guide: Milano – Sanremo 2018


Not much to shout about in regards to 2018’s course for Milano – Sanremo, as it is an identical affair to last year’s, maintaining its reputation as one of the least tinkered with monuments in recent seasons. Though clocking in at 291km of racing (300km if you include the neutral zone), it will once again be a day which is unlikely to see any noteworthy action before the peloton as easily passed the 200km marker. The triumvirate of Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta will provide the day’s contenders with the first real indication as to whether their legs feel favourable or not with less than 60km remaining. After this comes the historic double of the Cipressa and the Poggio, the descent off the latter reaching level ground once again with only a little over 2km of racing to go. Though we may have to wait late in the day to see it, with so few opportunities to break the race apart, there should be another great curtain raising battle to this year’s monuments at Milano – Sanremo.

Milan - Sanremo 2018 Race Preview


Peter Sagan enters most of the calendar’s one day races as the favourite, though does not possess the best record in the classics or monuments when considering how long he has been the sport’s greatest active rider. He came close to taking the win last year and has already stated that he will approach things differently this time in pursuit of the win, perhaps choosing to keep his powder dry and allow others to really push the tempo. Whatever the plan is, there is no doubt he shall be a major protagonist in the final decisive kilometres, where it is tough to imagine him losing if part of any group which turns the last corner onto the Via Roma.

Arnaud Démare won this race in surprising fashion a couple of years ago, but given his recent form, it would be far less of a shock to win it a second time than the first. He copes well with this type of arduous racing and is one of the few who can still turn in close to his best sprint after well over 250km of racing. The team at his disposal is extremely strong in support of the French national champion, focused almost entirely upon controlling the race and manoeuvering Démare into a race winning position. Despite having already won here, as a not particularly flashy rider, it is easy to overlook his talents; his rivals would be foolish to do the same.

Sonny Colbrelli has maintained a great record at Milano – Sanremo over the years and 2018 looks to be one of his best build ups to the big day of all. His recent victory upon Hatta Dam at the Dubai Tour proved his great strength when roads head skywards, which will no doubt be useful late in the day here. He would do best to allow other bigger names to close down the attacks when necessary, as previous years have seen the Italian use up too much energy before the finish line is in sight.

Michal Kwiatkowski is the defending champion and will feel relaxed heading into the day, with nothing to prove and no real pressure to repeat his win at a notoriously tough to predict monument. Regardless, he will be a likely face amongst those hoping to split the race apart and avoid a significant bunch sprint deciding the winner this year. This no doubt that means attacking hard over the Poggio, which given his success last year, will be interesting to see who reacts first to such a potentially dangerous move.

Elia Viviani is the purest sprinter with the most realistic chance of surviving the final quarter of racing with a potent turn of pace still at his disposal. Having enjoyed a brilliant start to life at Quick Step, the Italian ace is looking in sparkling form and more confident than ever in his abilities to reach the top of the sport. With a talented selection of teammates by his side, Viviani shall be well protected, allowing him to focus on exiting the final turn of the day in a race winning position.

Others to watch for are Alexander Kristoff, Caleb Ewan, Julian AlaphilppeMatteo Trentin and Magnus Cort Nielsen.


1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Sonny Colbrelli

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 5

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 1


Beginning with a 162.5km stage from Nizwa to Sultan Qaboos University, day one of this year’s Tour of Oman should be a chance for the sprinters to start with a bang. Though the roads rise somewhat after leaving the day’s start town, the second half of the stage is an extended descent which leads the peloton down to the finish, giving it the appearance of a day which the sprint teams shall be able to control easily enough. With the final turn coming at the flamme rouge, we should see a hotly contested sprint finish on wide roads, offering up a drag race amongst the best riders here.

Tour of Oman 2018 - Stage 1


Nacer Bouhanni is said to be undergoing a transformative experience these days, the hopes of many seeking to salvage the mercurial talent from the peloton’s most acquired taste in recent years, with signs positive so far. The provocative Frenchman mustered some encouraging signs during the Dubai Tour, though was unlucky enough to crash on the final bend of the last stage when looking well-positioned. His impressive turn of pace and ability to surf the wheels should serve him well amongst a pack lacking many dominant sprint trains, so should have eyes on the podium at the very least on Stage 1.

Mark Cavendish picked up a stage win during his recent time at the Dubai Tour and looks to be entering this race with a strong chance of collecting more early season victories. Though his support train has altered dramatically compared to last week, he will be able to rely on the talented young Scott Davies to position him safely during the final kilometre. A clear run at the line will be needed amongst a likely to be messy sprint, though years of experience do mean Cavendish knows how to handle himself by now.

Magnus Cort was unexpectedly strong last week and ended up on the podium behind eventual winner Elia Vivani, but he is another sprinter who shall see many of his key lieutenants leave him, as the team’s focus switches to climbing the general classification instead of sprints. However, Cort is not one who necessarily demands a committed leadout train and has previously performed well when having to look after himself, so will be confident of challenging for the win.

Adam Blythe surged late to push Elia Viviani close for the win on the final stage in Dubai, but had to settle for third as he just ran out of road before being able to overtake the Italian. With racing here likely to prove more attritional, Blythe could be able to draw closer to his faster rivals and take a surprise victory for himself.

Others to consider are Giacomo NizzoloAlexander Kristoff and Max Walscheid


1st Magnus Cort 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd Adam Blythe

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 5


As is tradition at the Tour Down Under, the overall victory looks set to be decided by the familiar ascent of Wilunga Hill, sending the favourites up its slopes twice in an attempt to shake out 2018’s champion from the bunch. The climb itself lasts for 3km, and though it averages a tame 5%, the steepest sections do creep just beyond 9% during the first half of the ascent. Tackling it twice after leaving McLaren Vale will be a test given the recent weather conditions and there will be little chance to hide a lack of early season form when ascending the scorching slopes near the end of the 151.5km queen stage.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Five 5 Preview


Richie Porte loves this climb and is the clear favourite to win once again, especially given an encouraging glimpse of his condition so early in the year. He is in a feisty mood to contest the overall victory, perhaps appreciating that such a depth of talent will require him to ride more aggressively in order to guarantee a stage win. No rider knows this climb as well as Porte, and with that in mind, it shall be tough to look beyond him for the victory.

Jay McCarthy has been promised the full backing of his team today and should be one of the main protagonists during the climb of Wilunga Hill. He has offered little during the Tour Down Under to justify serious backing, but his performance at the National Road Race Championships still seems enough to highlight him as a real challenger. Such a strong team of riders around him is an immense advantage on a day where saving every last watt of effort is crucial, keeping him fresh for one decisive attack.

Daryl Impey is enjoying some good early season form and could prove a rider well worth watching on Wilunga Hill as his condition could take bigger names by surprise. He is certainly not a pure climber, but should have enough to cling to their wheels and hope to outgun them in a reduced sprint to the finish line.

Diego Ulissi possesses a consistent record on this stage over the years, though never seems capable of converting that into an eventual victory by the finish. Once again he is a name worth considering here, but a disappointing showing up to now does little to suggest he shall steal the show on Wilunga Hill. 

Domenico Pozzovivo is very talented at coping with these climbs, looking relatively sharp right now and unlikely to think twice about taking the opportunity to open up a gap to his rivals during the final moments. We have often seen the Italian rider following all the major attacks from the big names in grand tour racing, but rarely does he ever manage to better them, making it a gamble to back Pozzovivo as the day’s winner on Stage 5

Others to consider include Luis Leon SanchezEnric MasPierre LatourTom Jelte-Slagter and Rui Costa.


1st Richie Porte 2nd Domenico Pozzovivo 3rd Jay McCarthy


Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 4


A relatively short 128.2km forms Stage 4 of 2018’s Tour Down Under, leaving Norwood and racing into the newly introduced finishing town of Uraidla after some serious climbing late on in the day. An interesting stage which may prove a closer fought affair than many first thought, the focus is still likely to be upon the traditionally decisive Wilunga Hill on Stage 5 to realistically crown this year’s winner overall. Expectations are that the puncheurs are likely to demonstrate a greater impact than the pure climbers late on here and a last gasp charge to the line could decide the honours.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Four 4 Preview


Nathan Haas has been working hard already this week, picking up bonus seconds whenever possible and doing his utmost to steer clear of trouble by utilising his Katusha Alpecin teammates perfectly as protection. Additionally, there is enough talent around him to suggest he shall not be left alone during the crucial moments at the end of the day, potentially allowing him to lean on rivals to chase down his teammates in order to counter attack for the victory. With a quick turn of pace, Haas could capitalise from a reduced bunch kick and seize control of the race ahead of the pivotal penultimate day.

Richie Porte is the best climber at the race, but today will be more about staying with the pack and avoiding any significant time losses to major rivals. As ever, his goal is to produce another barn-storming ride up Wilunga Hill, but he will not refuse the opportunity to take the win today if it should arise. Entering Stage 5 as race leader would make Porte’s chances of overall victory even greater, as with less impetus to break the race up, he could simply sit on the wheels all day.

Jay McCarthy often finishes powerfully on stages such as these, and with such a strong team to support him, there is a great chance of him scoring the win on Stage 4. As one of the few contenders today who has already shown good form in 2018, his performance at the National Road Race Championships suggested he is already riding well and would be a threatening rider to allow a free ticket right into the final kilometre.

Diego Ulissi did not perform as strongly as anticipated yesterday, though still deserves a serious mention here on favourable terrain once again for the Italian. Though the last climb is a great springboard to launch his attack upon, the downhill run into town is not favourable really, but his capabilities in a reduced sprint could still deliver him victory if riding smart on the day.

A strong field of further candidates all have the potential to win in Uraidla: Rui CostaEnric MasPeter SaganTom Jelte-SlagterDaryl Impey and Peter Kennaugh.


1st Nathan Haas 2nd Jay McCarthy 3rd Richie Porte

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 3


Stage 3 leaves Glenelg and makes its way south to the finish at Victor Harbor 120.5km later, featuring the notable climb of Pennys Hill Road (2.8km avg. 7.6%) to test the bunch early on in the day, during what is anticipated to be a scorching afternoon beneath the Australian sun; hence the foreshortened stage compared to the race book’s 146.5km. The final few kilometres of the day level out, but retain a couple of technical bends after the flamme rouge, making positioning vital here to contest the likely sprint.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Three 3 Preview


Caleb Ewan impressed yesterday when winning on Stage 2, restoring faith in his abilities and reminding his teammates why he is always worth backing for the honours at the Tour Down Under. Today is within his capabilities once again, while a reduction in distance and being one of the few contenders familiar with racing in this heat, means he is the clear favourite to win in Victor Harbor.

Elia Viviani is perhaps the only rider capable of matching Ewan’s explosive sprints, which he often leaves quite late, using acceleration instead of max speed to take wins. The Italian is not adverse to surfing the wheels if required, though does now possess a more proficient leadout train at his disposal and could instead find himself placed well in order to fight for the victory. Additionally, the day’s climbing is unlikely to fatigue Viviani a great deal compared to some of the heavier sprinters in contention on Stage 3.

André Greipel certainly dislikes technical stage finishes, but with such brilliant weather at hand and nothing to worry about in terms of rain or slippery roads, it would be foolish to rule him out entirely. Though the turns do come late, the roads are relatively wide, which means elbow-to-elbow riding is less likely when exiting these decisive bends. They do however prevent him from unleashing his longer sprint in the usual fashion, meaning he may suffer at the hands of more explosive finishers such as Ewan or Viviani.

Peter Sagan was unable to prove the deciding factor yesterday and help his teammate Jay McCarthy to the stage victory, but could be handed leadership back on Stage 3’s preferable finale. His early season top speed has been impressive, and if the sprint does not really erupt until 200m from the line, then there is every chance the reigning world champion shall take his first win with the rainbow bands in 2018.

Phil Bauhaus always deserves a mention, continually closing the gap to the bigger name sprinters and proving to be a growing danger to the upper echelons who so often decide the stage wins amongst themselves. A solid final kilometre in terms of positioning will be key, but if ridden well, he might be able to catch the rest slow to react while they watch one another.


1st Caleb Ewan 2nd Elia Viviani 3rd Peter Sagan

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 2


Today’s finale at Stirling is a familiar fixture in the design of each edition of the Tour Down Under, making its ninth appearance since 2009 and setting the scene for another uphill battle to the finish line. The stage totals 148.6km from its start in Unley and rolls throughout the day, concluding at Stirling, though the peloton will actually pass the finish line four times in total. It is generally considered that the pure sprinters shall struggle to perform by the time we see the final lap sign appear, instead favouring those riders capable of powerful uphill bursts over this drag to the line.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Two 2 Preview


Peter Sagan has started the season in brilliant form once again and is bound to prove unbeatable if given the go ahead to pursue the win in Stirling; team orders being upon which his chances hinge. A generous rider and team player, the world champion may instead choose to sacrifice his efforts for his fellow riders today, seeking to play a big part in the day’s outcome. He has done precisely this on this stage finish before, and with a strong team of punchy riders beside him, there are plenty of options on offer for Bora Hansgrohe on Stage 2.

Diego Ulissi is long established as a rider who flourishes on these drags to the finish line and expectation will be that the Italian shall be a contender once again here in Stirling. His support during the concluding laps of the day looks capable of keeping him fresh and well positioned when it matters most, meaning a podium is likely to be their target at the very least on Stage 2. Ulissi has a great ability to identify the best moment to sprint for the line, and with it being so early in the season, he might just catch everyone else napping.

Nikias Arndt enjoys these finales too, though is an unknown quantity right now and usually only performs best when the day has proven long or attritional at least. Regardless, he is the best option for Team Sunweb and will likely view this as a good opportunity to test the waters of 2018 at least.

Jay McCarthy will be eager to seize the chance of leadership if Sagan is happy to support the native rider, McCarthy previously performing well at his home race on these testing finishes. With such a strong group around him featuring Sagan, Peter Kennaugh, Daniel Oss and Maciej Bodnar; their is no reason to think he will be outmuscled late on. With compatriot Caleb Ewan misjudging yesterday’s finale, McCarthy could be the rider who delivers Australia’s first win at Tour Down Under 2018.

Nathan Haas could be keeping his powder dry until later in the week, but there is enough here in terms of favourable terrain, in order to lure him out into gaining further seconds on the general classification.

Davide Cimolai often performs best when given a slight drag to contest his sprint upon and is certainly flying under the radar in comparison to other specialists here. If he can find himself on the wheel of one of the major names in the final kilometre, he has the skills to spring a surprise.

Plenty of others are capable of taking a top ten placing here: Rohan DennisSimon ClarkeRui CostaAndré Greipel, Caleb Ewan and Phil Bauhaus.


1st Diego Ulissi 2nd Jay McCarthy 3rd Davide Cimolai

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 1


A familiarly styled course to many which have opened the Tour Down Under in recent years, Stage 1 takes the riders on a 145km jaunt from Port Adelaide to Lyndoch, featuring a smattering of rolling terrain early in the day on a stage anticipated to finish in a bunch sprint. The sole recognised ascent of the day is the typically Antipodean titled Humbug Scrub, a 6.3 km rise which average a gradient of 4%, appearing just before the 40km marker. With little to upset the sprinters’ teams beyond Humbug Scrub on Stage 1, it should simply be a case of sitting back and watching the fist serious duel amongst the sprinters in 2018.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage One 1 Preview


Caleb Ewan has cemented his place as one of the fastest riders in the bunch since breaking through a couple of seasons ago and could leave his native race with a good haul of stage wins this week. He has previously taken two stage finishes of the Tour Down Under in Lyndoch, so evidently finds this finale to be to his liking for one reason or another. He might not feel that his best leadout team his here to support him, but with his blistering turn of pace, the likelihood is that Ewan shall make it a hatrick of wins here.

Elia Viviani appears to be in strong form since making his off-season move to Quick Step and could emerge as the rider who pushes Ewan most for the day’s honours. Another without a perfect set of riders to back him, he will need to rely upon his guile and nous in order to find the best wheel to follow late in the day, seeking to produce a late charge to the line which edges out his Australian rival.

André Greipel often lays down a decent marker of early season form at the Tour Down Under and will be focused on repeating this once again in 2018. Not as potent over short distances as his rivals mentioned above, the German powerhouse is still a tough man to catch once he gets up to speed however and will be expected to podium on Stage 1. His greatest advantage is the leadout train which Lotto Soudal have equipped him with in Australia and the power it possesses to diminish any advantages held over the ‘Gorilla’ by Ewan or Viviani; a perfect performance from his team could make Greipel impossible to beat.

Sam Bennett should be the focus for Bora Hansgroe in the sprints this week, but recent illness has meant Peter Sagan stepped into the breach for the People’s Choice Classic a few days ago, which he promptly won due to being, well, Peter Sagan. The three time world champion looks likely to attempt the same today, but with much faster rivals eagerly eyeing up this opening stage, only another brilliant showing from his teammates will manage to snatch a second unexpected sprint victory for Sagan in a week.

Phil Bauhaus became a familiar name in the top ten placings at WorldTour races last season and the expectation will be that he pushes on once again in 2018, so could prove a danger throughout the racing at the Tour Down Under. Chris Lawless certainly has the talent to podium at the very least here, though is somewhat hamstrung by a relatively limited Team Sky leadout train, in regards to both experience and organisation


1st Caleb Ewan 2nd Elia Viviani 3rd André Greipel