Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 21 Preview

Course:

We once again arrive at the processional stage into Paris, Chris Froome having joined the exclusive club of four time Tour de France winners, despite never truly appearing to be the strongest rider in contention for the yellow jersey. Stage 21 will be a chance to relax for the Team Sky captain and his fellow riders, the common sight of champagne flutes being passed around the group, as others share family messages to the cameramen who have stalked them since the departure in Düsseldorf. The stage itself is 103km from Montgeron to the iconic finale upon the Champs Élysées, featuring a total of eight laps around the capital, each proving more hectic than the last. Though many riders like to escape the bunch over the Parisian cobblestones, seldom do their efforts steal the win, this being a day for the sprinters to dominate. Having lost Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Marcel Kittel and Arnaud Démare during the race, it may well prove a harder to control race than previously anticipated.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 21 Preview

Contenders:

André Greipel has already been backed by his fellow sprinters to secure another victory upon the Champs Élysées, a consistent performer when it comes to this tricky stage, the German now appears to be the fastest man left at the race. Despite having lost a key component of his leadout train in the shape of Marcel Sieberg, the team still have enough in reserve to offer him a protected ride into the final decisive turn of this curtain call upon 2017’s Tour de France. Assuming he is placed into the ideal position from which to sprint from, then it is unlikely that anyone else will be able to match the speed of the ‘Gorilla’.

Nacer Bouhanni will do well to redeem his Tour de France by taking a surprise win on the final day, having had to endure a pretty torrid time throughout. Seemingly spending more time throwing punches then concentrating on the task at hand, the fiery Frenchman has spurned several opportunities at the race which looked ideal territory for him to win from. Morale is not great at Cofidis, so they could do with a win to say the least, yet it will take a lot of effort to muster something resembling a serious charge for Parisian glory today.

Alexander Kristoff is another rider who has recorded a consistent level of results on this familiar conclusion to Le Tour de France, though has been unfortunate to miss out when it comes to crossing the line first. Last week he may well have emerged as the new favourite to win, but a serious fall which catapulted him hard onto the tarmac has dented his chances. Having recorded one of the slowest times in yesterday’s time trial, it is difficult to gauge if he is really suffering badly or simply saving his efforts for a stage he still believes he can win. The technical demands, positional requirements and draining cobblestones are all typical features of a Kristoff victory, and if he has truly recovered, then expect him to be pushing for the win as ever.

Edvald Boasson Hagen finally took a well deserved stage win a couple of days ago, but will not be content with just that, as this has the potential to be another feather in the cap of the Norwegian at the end of 2017’s Tour de France. Now looking to be one of the freshest fast men still at the race, Team Dimension Data are likely to be a dominant force at the head of the peloton during the deciding laps around Paris, ensuring nobody dangerous gains too great a gap on the bunch. In terms of leadout, the Norwegian can expect to have the best on offer, though it is hard to say how hard he had to dig for his recent victory and whether they may have blunted his chances as a result.

Others expected to feature amongst the top ten on Stage 21 are Dylan GroenewegenBen SwiftMichael Matthews and John Degenkolb.

Outcome:

1st André Greipel 2nd Edvald Boasson Hagen 3rd Alexander Kristoff

Advertisements
Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 16 Preview

Course:

The first stage back after a rest day always generates a degree of trepidation for the riders, as some return feeling fresher after a day free of the rigours of racing, while others sense their form begin to go off the boil. Signalling the return to the saddle for the peloton is an 165km trip from Le Puy-en-Velay to Romans-Sur-Isère, offering little in the way of easing the riders back into the swing of things with its immediate uphill start. The opening rise forms the Category 3 Côte de Boussoulet, a 4.5km long ascent which averages a hard to ignore 6.3% gradient throughout its slopes. From its summit the road continues to roll for around another 40km, eventually tackling the relatively short Col du Rouvey and its subsequent fast descent. After dropping into the valley, the road does not feature a great deal of topographical challenges, though crosswinds could play a pivotal role in deciding the composition of any leading group late in the day. Whoever does reach the final kilometre first will face a very technically demanding run into the finishing line itself, with tight turns and roundabouts packed in to make things even more stressful. It may even prove tempting for some sprinters to chance their luck in the day’s breakaway in order to avoid such a hectic conclusion to Stage 16.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 16 Preview

Contenders:

Alexander Kristoff is a master at measuring his efforts when the crosswinds begin scything apart the peloton, even going as far as to say he enjoys their destructive nature and the familiarity it brings having spent much time cycling along the Norwegian coastline. His main goal will be to survive the opening climb within touching distance of his main rivals for Stage 16, after which if successful, there will be a great chance for him to collect a Tour de France victory in 2017. With the winds potentially turning this into an arduous return to racing, combined with a technical finale, Kristoff should be able to emerge as a major contender for stage honours here.

Michael Matthews and his team will appreciate how crucial today could prove in the battle for the green jersey, having already secured a brilliant stage win in the absence of Marcel Kittel before the rest day. Stage 16 is another chance to turn the screw on the dominant German sprinter, likely aiming to make racing hard from the very start and hoping to drop Kittel as soon as possible. Though not renowned for his prowess in crosswinds, his teammates do offer plenty of experience in surviving the challenges it throws their way, so Matthews is likely to be in safe hands. A harder day will blunt the top end speed of his faster rivals, while the late turns and road furniture could derail a few leadout trains too, but he will need to be in the leading group before he can worry about victory. Matthews will be contesting this on an almost flat finish, so everything will need to fall perfectly into place if he is to stand a chance of winning and cutting the lead of Marcel Kittel upon the maillot vert.

Greg Van Avermaet could prove to have eyes upon joining the day’s breakaway if able to muster the sort of form we have previously seen from the classics specialist at Le Tour de France. He knows that life will be hard if a bunch kick ends up deciding the day, especially given the lack of incline, but the Belgian has a great chance of being the fastest rider present if he smuggles himself aboard a successful move. Unlikely to fear life in the crosswinds, Avermaet will know how to look after himself as best as possible and even identify the riders who are most likely to contribute towards forming a breakaway which will survive a day out front.

John Degenkolb looks to be on the up once again and Stage 16 does provide an opportunity which suits him more ideally than those which have already been sent his way. A powerful rider, Degenkolb is capable of producing the efforts required to make the cut if echelons form during the day; his immense strength a huge asset over his lighter weight sprinting rivals. Much like his countryman Marcel Kittel, his greatest challenge will be hauling himself up the opening climb of the day and ensuring he has enough left in reserve to battle it out in the final kilometres. He lacks team support to help him navigate the technical run into the finish, but a hard race could thin the ranks enough to give Degenkolb a better chance at victory.

Edvald Boasson Hagen shall certainly want to see his current form put to good use and is another rider who could potentially join the breakaway if he does not fancy his chances in a larger sprint at the end of the day. He can certainly climb well enough on his day to make the key moves, has the strength to manage life in the crosswinds and is often one of the freshest at the end of a tough race. Team Dimension Data have been working hard to produce a good result since the departure of Mark Cavendish, so should view Stage 16 as an opportunity to finally see their determination secure themselves a taste of victory once again.

Nacer Bouhanni has proven incredibly tough to gauge during this year’s Tour de France, though if he is returning to top form, then this will be the day to demonstrate so. With its anticipated nature and technical finale, Bouhanni has the tenacity required to ensure he finds himself stuck to the right wheel throughout Stage 16. Another fast finisher who lacks a convincing team support on days such as these, the Frenchman will no doubt see his chances of winning improve if the number of riders able to contest the outcome is greatly reduced by a hard race.

Other names to consider for both sprint and breakaway are Ben SwiftSonny ColbrelliStephen CummingsMarcel KittelDylan GroenewegenAndré Greipel and Davide Cimolai.

Outcome:

1st Michael Matthews 2nd Edvald Boasson Hagen 3rd Greg Van Avermaet

Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 14 Preview

Course:

A victory of great panache by Warren Barguil secured a back to back correct prediction for Spokenforks yesterday, tightening his grip upon the polka dot jersey and managing to take France’s first Bastille Day win at Le Tour since 2005. Today’s 181.5km course from Blagnac to Rodez will be a tougher affair to predict than yesterday, rolling terrain lending itself well to the ambitions of the breakaway, though an uphill finish to the day will have caught the eyes of several punchier sprinters and their teams. The first of two Category 3 ascents, Côte du viaduc du Viaur (2.3km, avg. 7%) is followed relatively quickly by the Côte de Centrès (2.3km, avg. 7%), neither of which are likely to cause much of an issue for breakaway or bunch alike. Though uncategorised by the race manual, a following rise is then apparent en route to Bonnecombe, which could potentially prove a useful launchpad as the break begins to fracture late on. The road starts to drop back down to Rodez, while the tension ratchets up ahead of the decisive climb of Côte de Saint-Pierre, which lasts just 570m and averages a tough 9.6%. Expectations are that an elite sprint finish will crown the day’s winner, though this is the Tour de France and life rarely goes to plan.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 14 Preview

Contenders:

Greg Van Avermaet has not shown his face a great deal at this year’s race, no doubt hoping to keep himself out of trouble and in good condition ahead of today’s finish, having previously won in Rodez at the Tour de France a couple of years ago. There will be a greater amount of pressure upon the Belgium to perform now BMC’s general classification hopes have left with Richie Porte in the back of an ambulance, but also a greater degree of team support as a result. With stage wins now the team’s main agenda, everyone will be fully aware of how ideal today’s finale is for Van Avermaet and they will do their utmost to control the race especially for him.

Michael Matthews should be motivated on a day which could help him massively in the green jersey competition, as the finish will be his greatest chance of taking a victory with Marcel Kittel firmly out of the picture. His team are on a high as of yesterday’s Bastille Day victory with Warren Barguil and will be hoping to continue their success with another strong showing on Stage 14. His climbing prowess has repeatedly allowed him to showcase how much stronger he is going uphill than many of his rivals, placing him in good stead for the tests expected here. A hard day and a hard ridden finish will favour Matthews, one of the most durable riders outside of the general classification big names, possessing a brilliant uphill sprinting talent to see it off emphatically.

Philippe Gilbert fits the bill well of a potential winner for Stage 14, having the endurance required to follow the rolling attacks and sprint convincingly over the Côte de Saint-Pierre in order to distance his opposition. His greatest strength will be the support, specifically positionally speaking, of his teammates as they guide him through the concluding half of this stage. The competition will be fierce for the win today, though Gilbert has the grit to suffer the punches and emerge sharpest when it matters most.

Diego Ulissi has carved out a talent for this style of finale, so should be looking upon this with eager eyes and serious conviction to be amongst the frontrunners on the Côte de Saint-Pierre. The Italian is not at his best right now, yet should be able to contest this outcome at least, given it being towards the lower end of his toughest career victories. UAE Team Emirates have focused plenty of effort in placing Louis Meintjes well in pursuit of the white jersey, though shall be eager to take a potential stage win by switching their support to the celebrated Italian for the day.

Sonny Colbrelli will no doubt have circled this as a day to aim for since the route was first released, but would surely have liked to be sat before it in stronger condition than currently seen to be riding in. Despite this fact, Colbrelli has done well at major races when somewhat below par by simply riding smarter than his rivals, maintaining freshness for the last push to the line. With limited team support, he may end up becoming swamped by the stronger teams around him late on, so might actually prefer a tougher selection process for the finale.

John Degenkolb does have form for producing brilliantly strong efforts upon late rises to the line, yet is likely to be further down the pecking order in Rodez as a result of lacking form and weaker team support. The German has not been able to produce the level of performance previously seen by him at Le Tour de France, but can expect to edge closer to victory now the race is getting tougher for the more lightweight sprinters. Powerful enough to grind a huge gear over such a short climb, this is well within his capabilities on paper, though has not shown enough up until now to suggest he will take the win.

Daniel Martin has survived his collision with Richie Porte relatively well, though yesterday’s post-race walk to the team bus did showcase just how much pain and bruising the Irishman has suffered as a result of his misfortune. Surprisingly strong yesterday, his teammates have rallied round him to accelerate his recovery as best as possible when riding a grand tour and he definitely looks dangerous enough to challenge for stage honours if the race lends itself to the maillot jaune group. This short and sharp conclusion to the day is ideal for Martin to attack upon, but it is not necessarily likely he will be in a position to do precisely that. If however the battle for the yellow jersey swallows up the day’s smaller moves, then Martin is the most likely to win from such an outcome.

Tony GallopinJan BakelantsEdvald Boasson HagenBen Swift and Alberto Bettiol could all cause an upset from either a breakaway or simply bursting forth from a bunch sprint when least expected.

Outcome:

1st Michael Matthews 2nd Greg Van Avermaet 3rd Philippe Gilbert

Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 4 Preview

Course:

Another day exceeding the 200km mark, Stage 4’s passage from Mondorf-Les-Bains to Vittel is similarly rolling to yesterday’s terrain, though should provide a more suiting finish for the thoroughbred sprinters. Starting in Luxembourg and crossing into France around the halfway point, there is little of note during much of the 207.5km route, though there is an ascent of the Category 4 Col des Trois Fontaines on offer later in the day. The finish itself is a slight drag up to the line, perhaps looking favourably upon those who have the strength, but not quite the top speed to better the likes of Marcel Kittel on a normally level playing field.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 4 Preview

Contenders:

Marcel Kittel performed well on the opening road stage, securing a convincing victory despite a rather below average leadout from his Quick – Step teammates. However, none of the sprinters’ leadout trains got it right on Stage 2 and today will be the first opportunity to remedy this factor for all the big names. Having clearly arrived at Le Tour de France in fantastic condition, it is easy to consider that Marcel Kittel could walk away with around five stage victories if everything goes to plan. Nobody looked particularly close to challenging him the other day, but the subtle increase in gradient to the line might be enough for some rivals to close the gap.

Arnaud Démare recorded an impressive second place behind Marcel Kittel on Stage 2 and will only be more of a threat to the German on a finale which rises slightly to the line. Enjoying the form of his life currently, the Frenchman has not only sustained great condition heading into his home grand tour, but is also backed by a competent leadout train to guide him into position. Assuming FDJ can execute an almost perfect final kilometre for their captain, then there is a strong possibility of seeing the first French win of 2017’s Le Tour de France.

André Greipel is confident of picking up at least one stage win at the race and has looked strong enough to achieve that ambition based on what we have seen thus far. His team were one of the few to produce a more organised leadout on Stage 2, but the ‘Gorilla’ was left a little short of being able to better his compatriot Marcel Kittel when it mattered most. Another rider who often performs well on moderate inclines, this is a convincing opportunity for Greipel to collect a stage win before the first week is even over.

Peter Sagan managed to unclip his foot in the decisive moments of yesterday’s finale and still succeeded in fending off a surging Michael Matthews by a considerable margin. Consistency has delivered him a green jersey at every Tour de France he has attended, making it certain he will be present in the kick for the line, but wether it suits him enough to win is a different question entirely.  The World Champion rises to the top when contests get attritional, so today’s short and simple run into the finish line is unlikely to truly favour him, though nothing is simple after more than 200km of racing.

Dylan Groenewegen is another who could seize the day, using the final increase to launch himself to victory and take his first career grand tour stage win. The biggest deciding factor for the Dutchman is wether his teammates can navigating him a successful pathway to the front of the action, allowing him to focus everything on producing his best effort possible.

Those capable of challenging for the win and top 10 placings include Nacer BouhanniMark CavendishJohn Degenkolb, Ben Swift and Sonny Colbrelli.

Outcome:

1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Marcel Kittel 3rd André Greipel

Amstel Gold Logo

Amstel Gold – Race Preview 2017

Course:

A hectic week of frantic cycling in and around the Ardennes region begins, as ever, with one of Dutch cycling’s greatest treats; Amstel Gold. Forming part of late spring’s famous triptych, the next eight days will be crammed with some of the season’s most aggressive riding as the peloton tackle Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège in almost a single week. Each race favours a slightly different style of rider, though they each demand an individual to be strong, combative and intelligent in pursuit of victory. Today’s task is a 261km journey from Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt, taking in narrow roads on constant undulating terrain, creating a bunch who sees its anxieties grow as they seek to peer around the next corner. Positioning shall be a key factor for those hoping to perform well at Amstel Gold, making the battle for the front an intense contest as soon as the starting flag has been waved. A total of 35 officially recognised hills feature on course, few of which would invoke much trepidation normally, but mole hills become mountains once the race passes 200km of sustained racing. Suffice to say, Amstel Gold often becomes an attritional affair which builds tension ahead of the final attack on the finishing climb, but this course is slight different than normal. Instead, the finish in 2017 should allow a greater number of riders to come into play, favouring the strongest sprinters who are capable of surviving a day like this in good shape. Gone are the days where riders sought to put everything down on the final ascent of the Cauberg in order to win, though the iconic hill does feature throughout the day, 2017 looks set to be a reduced sprint amongst the toughest of riders.
Amstel Gold Race Preview 2017

Contenders:

Michael Matthews is one of several riders expected to challenge once again for the win at Amstel Gold, despite having never managed to convert several good showings at this race into a victory thus far. The Australian has continued to develop his ability to survive hard days in the saddle, able to emerge when it matters most at the end of the stage, easily putting rivals to the sword with his blistering pace. Matthews is not scared of joining a breakaway either, making him a crucial rider to mark for those also seeking victory, as it is unlikely any move capable of staying away could feature anyone faster than himself. Though his previous form here is exciting, the course changes will make it harder for Matthews to gain an advantage over pure sprinters, as the finish is no longer upon or shortly after the Cauberg.

Fabio Felline has been on the rise since last year and will enter today’s race with plenty of confidence that a podium place is well within his capabilities right now, if not more. His efforts during the early part of the season have showcased his durability for arduous contests, able to match some of the best in the world as the pedal revolutions tick higher and higher. The Italian is another who is dangerous due to his ability to win from either a bunch kick or breakaway move, so will not be afforded a great deal of freedom by the bigger favourites. However, his greatest issue is that he is not on par with the elite climbers and sprinters, meaning any move he makes will need to be intelligent enough to compensate for this difference in ability.

Bryan Coquard finished an impressive fourth place at last year’s edition of Amstel Gold, only losing out to Sonny Colbrelli in the sprint for third place on the day. The French rider possesses an immense turn of speed, often emerging late from behind his more powerful rivals, accelerating past them as the finish line rapidly approaches. Coquard looks to have developed a greater degree of strength and determination to stay in contention when things get tough at races such as these; with last year’s result testament to that fact. He may not have enjoyed an eye-catching Spring like others here, but the general feeling amongst those in the sport, is that Coquard has the form necessary right now to win Amstel Gold.

Sonny Colbrelli continues to surprise people with his results during the early part of 2017, appearing here off the back of victory at De Brabantse Pijl last week. Colbrelli has good form at Amstel Gold in recent years and should find that the course alterations play into his hands more than any other major contender present. Also, his team features defending champion and two time winner Enrico Gasparottoable to guide him through the maelstrom with his wealth of experience at Amstel Gold. Colbrelli is one of the best at surviving tough races, demonstrated clearly by his recent showings at Milan – San Remo; one of the hardest races a rider can face each year. With a strong combination of individual and team strength, there is a great chance that the trophy will remain in Italian hands for another year.

Greg Van Avermaet should be another rider who finds the recent route chances favourable for his chances of winning Amstel Gold. Currently enjoying an incredible year of form and successes, the Belgian hero will still emerge motivated as ever to perform well enough to challenge for the day’s honours. Assuming that the main bunch is slowly whittled down throughout the day, it is hard to see Greg Van Avermaet being absent from such a group and from that position he is currently unbeatable in a reduced sprint.

Alejandro Valverde is a rider who shall not be overjoyed by the finish no longer being determined by the testing Cauberg, so will need a new plan if he is to succeed today. The start of the season has proven fruitful for the veteran Spanish rider and many are hinting that he is in some of the best Spring form ever seen from him. As there is no longer the steep springboard on offer to catapult him to the finish line, he is now another rider seeking to be part of a much smaller group which battles it out for the victory. Should the situation arise, then Valverde is one of the hardest men to beat in a flat sprint after such a long and gruelling race.

Philippe Gilbert delivered a miraculous victory at De Ronde Van Vlaanderen a few weeks ago and has been a dominant force during the last couple of months. The Belgian champion will however struggle to replicate his previous dominance at this specific race, as the Cauberg lacking finale makes it much tougher for Gilbert to drop riders who can sprint faster than himself before the line. It is likely that he will need a much more attritional day in order to improve his odds of winning, but it is not impossible to see Gilbert once again becoming champion, especially given his current form.

Outsiders who are worth watching throughout the day are; Enrico Gasparotto, Ben Swift, Michael Albasini, Diego Ulissi, Tim Wellens and Simon Gerrans.

Outcome:

1st Sonny Colbrelli 2nd Michael Matthews 3rd Fabio Felline

Tour Down Under 2017

TOUR DOWN UNDER 2017 – STAGE 4 PREVIEW

Course:

Though Caleb Ewan lost contact with his leadout train as expected during yesterday’s finale, he took full advantage of Peter Sagan’s poor decision making which forced the World Champion to expend further energy navigating his way to the front; a move ultimately handing victory to the rival Australian. Stage 4 is a tricky prospect which may be allowed to fall into the hands of the breakaway, but if conditions are not too draining for the peloton, teams focused on forcing a bunch kick will have a great chance of doing precisely that. A total of 149.5km separates Norwood from Campbelltown, a large loop which traces around the Adelaide suburbs and provides little in gruelling terrain despite being the second longest day in the saddle at 2017’s Tour Down Under. The gradual decline down to the finish in Campbelltown should lend itself well to chasing down the day’s breakaway, eventually concluding with a sprint against a gradual drag up to the line.

Tour Down Under 2017 - Stage 4 Preview

Contenders:

Peter Sagan looked well placed in the final moments of Stage 3 to take victory ahead of the much faster Caleb Ewan, but his decision to go the long way around traffic meant he spent more time in the wind and thus found his legs lacking once Ewan stepped it up a gear. Today offers a great chance to remedy the previous day’s defeat, the longer stage potentially a bonus for Sagan is paired with a small drag to the line which can make it a contest of power instead of aerodynamics. There is a chance that Bora-Hansgrohe will instead ride for Sam Bennett, the Irishman a much faster prospect to challenge Caleb Ewan in a sprint, while the attributes of Stage 4 and its finale improve his odds yet further still if backed by his team.

Caleb Ewan is in indomitable form at his home stage race, possessing far superior speed to his rivals at the first major race of the season and is supported by a well organised leadout train. Though his immense pace and aerodynamic skills suggest Ewan is a thoroughbred sprinter, the Australian does have form when it comes to winning against a gradient similar to today’s. Assuming Orica-SCOTT deliver him into the ideal position, it is tough to argue against Ewan picking up another win at this year’s Tour Down Under.

Niccolo Bonifazio performed well on the previous day as anticipated and will now be looking to build upon this with another chance of a bunch kick at the end of Stage 4. The Italian is underrated at World Tour level despite some fantastic performances during the last two seasons, demonstrating how effective his blend of high speed and positional awareness can outperform the bigger names which surround him. He is likely to surf the wheels in the latter moments of today, but should have another convincing chance of finishing upon the podium.

Danny van Poppel is still waiting for his leadout train to really click into place at this race, though yesterday displayed encouraging signs that pieces are beginning to fall where they are needed at last. With the firepower of Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe at his disposal, van Poppel has enough to drag him into contention, but the loss of Owain Doull does make it a greater task to truly challenge for the win.

As has come to be expected at the Tour Down Under, other riders worth looking out for in Stage 4’s potential sprint finish are Nikias ArndtBen Swift and Baptiste Planckaert 

Outcome:

1st Peter Sagan 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd Niccolo Bonifazio

Tour Down Under 2017

Tour Down Under 2017 – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

Spokenforks emerges from the comfort of Christmas and the off-season, somewhat heavier around the waist, but eager to dive right back into the blazing sunshine which drew last year to a close for us in Abu Dhabi. Australia’s premier stage race has now become the curtain raiser for the cycling season, with many of the major stars lining up at the Tour Down Under to stretch their legs competitively for the first time since 2016. A six stage affair around the Adelaide area, the contest produces unpredictable racing as riders look to find their feet during the early shifting sands of 2017; sharp climbs, scything winds, fast finishes and testing conditions will keep everyone guessing during the week. Stage 1 is a 145km stretch from Unley to Lyndoch, offering those in pursuit of the mountains jersey the first set of points, before later settling down into three laps of a finishing circuit around Lyndoch which should guarantee a rapid finale to close Stage 1.

Tour Down Under 2017 - Stage 1 Preview

Contenders:

Caleb Ewan has risen to the top table of sprinters in a short period of time, and having won the People’s Choice Classic ahead of the Tour Down Under a few days ago, now enters the race as the favourite to win this opening affair. ORICA-Scott have the required firepower and organisational skills to smoothly deliver Ewan into race winning territory during the final 200m, after which he will be expected to finish clinically from. Given his impressive win only a few days ago, it is a tough challenge to realistically look beyond the young Australian as the winner after Stage 1.

Niccolo Bonifazio performs well at this early season competition, so should be a rider worth watching for on a day like this. It did not seem like he truly committed to the sprint during the People’s Choice Classic, making it tough to gauge his form precisely, but being one of the first to finish behind the podium placed riders certainly suggests he has the fitness to challenge.

Sam Bennett appeared strong in the same race as Ewan and Bonifazio, finishing second through some very clever riding which allowed him to burst to the fore despite missing an ideal leadout. Stage 1 will require Bora-Hansgrohe to execute a more successful leadout for Irishman Bennett and he will stand a great chance of winning if they achieve precisely that.

Peter Sagan appears here in the rainbow bands for the first time since winning the World Championship Road Race, looking eager to open his account as soon as possible having finished third during the People’s Choice Classic. Today’s finale should prove somewhat too fast for Sagan to win from, but it always remains a risk ruling anything beyond his skills or capabilities.

Others who should all feature include Danny Van PoppelNikias ArndtMark RenshawBen Swift and Edward Theuns.

Outcome:

1st Caleb Ewan 2nd Sam Bennett 3rd Niccolo Bonifazio