Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 6

Course:

A final tear up for the sprinters at this year’s Tour Down Under is offered up to them on Stage 6’s 90km blast around the streets of Adelaide. There are some slight permutations of bonus seconds which could see Richie Porte challenge for Daryl Impey’s leader’s jersey at the death, but the South African is a superior sprinter and should be able to contain the Tasmanian rider if required to. Beyond that, the day should be a straight forward criterium styled affair, eventually finishing with a subtle gradient up to the line and providing the fast men who have fallen short thus far to take a Tour Down Under victory.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

 

Contenders:

André Greipel has a very good record on this finale, and having missed the Tour Down Under in recent years, will be eager to remind people of his dominance. His brute force combines well with the relatively short finishing straight, while his strong leadout train will be confident of delivering him into the best position possible ahead of the sprint.

Caleb Ewan may not have enjoyed such a dominant time at this native race this season, though that is not to say he is out of form when it comes to sprinting. His anticipation is still somewhat of an issue, but for a developing talent, Ewan can rely upon his sheer pace to compensate for a disadvantage of racing nous compared to his rivals. With teammate Impey now overall race leader, he could well lose his final leadout man, resulting in a less powerful train at his disposal in the final kilometre before the line.

Elia Viviani demonstrated an incredible burst of acceleration when taking his stage victory earlier in the week and may actually be the most in form sprinter in contention for Stage 6. He has a far more impressive team of riders to support him in the pursuit of victory this season, seeking to protect and manoeuvre him effectively, from 20km out and right to the final 500m; a smooth ride into the finish today could leave Viviani unbeatable.

Phil Bauhaus continues to bridge the gap to the current crop of elite sprinters and is becoming a regular feature of the top five placings at the end of a stage. As we have already seen during the week, when other sprinters are too busy worrying about one another, he can us them as a springboard to edge closer to the win; he remains one to watch as ever.

Outcome:

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

Advertisements
Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 3

Course:

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

Contenders:

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.

Outcome:

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

Course:

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

Contenders:

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.

Outcome:

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

Course:

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

Contenders:

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

Outcome:

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

Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

Another correct prediction for Spokenforks at this year’s Giro d’Italia and another victory for Fernando Gaviria; his third to be precise. After a stuttering start, the Colombian has seen his sprinting abilities grow as the race goes on, while his rivals struggle to sustain a serious challenge to his increasing dominance. Stage 13 will be another perfect opportunity for the sprinters to snare a win ahead of the looming mountains which now stand between them and the finish in Milano. The day takes the shape of a 167km jaunt from Reggio Emilia to Tortona, a flat as a pancake stage, which should offer little hope to any breakaway which seeks to spoil the party for the peloton’s diminishing numbers of quick men. There is little to comment upon in regards to racing between the start and finish, the day more likely to become a sightseeing opportunity for both riders and commentators alike. The finale however does offer some technicalities to consider, with a handful of roundabouts demanding safe navigation, coupled with a late bend which leads onto the short (yet wide) finishing straight.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 13 Preview

Contenders:

Fernando Gaviria now appears to be the man to beat having secured his third win of 2017’s Giro d’Italia, though competition may prove stronger on this simpler and shorter stage than yesterday. Regardless, the Colombian has certainly exited the recent mountain stages in the best condition of the sprinters from what we have seen thus far. The leadout is likely to prove crucial with a turn so late to the finish line, meaning that Gaviria’s strong team support will aim to deliver him at the front of the bunch through the final turn and utilise his immense acceleration to take another victory.

Caleb Ewan once again struggled to contest stage honours yesterday, losing touch with his teammates at the crucial moment and subsequently missed out on the podium places. The Orica – Scott train at his disposal is one of the strongest here, though has not been running smoothly beyond their sole victory on Stage 7 last week. Ewan is on par with Gaviria, if not faster, while his only stage win so far at the race came on another finale with a similarly late turn; the Australian will be confident of a win here.

Sam Bennett has really improved since his initial sickness at the start of the Giro d’Italia, actually riding himself into surprisingly strong form, as demonstrated by his great finish yesterday. Bora have also seen their prowess amongst the sprint trains improve a great deal, emerging as a well organised outfit who have now delivered Bennett into ideal positioning on more than one occasion. Only a small mistake cost the Irishman a real chance of beating Gaviria yesterday, taking this lesson into account today, Bennett will be a true threat to the typically faster men around him.

Sacha Modolo has been surprisingly off the boil at his native grand tour, though the late battle for positioning here is something which could definitely play to his strengths. Beyond this, his main advantage will be lieutenant Roberto Ferrari, highly skilled at navigating through these tricky finishes and able to leadout at a speed able to challenge for a win in his own right.

Other faces to look out for are Enrico Battaglin, Phil Bauhaus, Ryan Gibbons and Jakub Mareczko.

Outcome:

1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd Sam Bennett 3rd Caleb Ewan

Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 12 Preview

Course:

Omar Fraile delivered Spokenforks a standout victory yesterday, having backed the combative Dimension Data rider to make the most of his recent form and cash in on the day’s breakaway lottery. Today’s offering looks set to be decided by the sprinters, allowing them a chance to contest stage honours for the first time in nearly a week of racing, though it will take 229km to cross the finish line first. Starting in Forlì and finishing at Reggio Emilia, the day begins with a gradual incline to the top of the first recognised climb on Stage 12, the Cotta di Cassaglia officially lasting only 7.7km (avg 4.9% max 9%). Once the peloton join the motorway, they will then tackle the 10.1km long Category 3 Valico Appenninico, a tame average gradient of 3.7% punctuated by a maximum incline of 12%. The road will then begin to drop downwards once again, eventually leading into a simplistic finale at Reggio Emilia, where the anticipated sprint shall be fought for upon a wide finishing straight which is preceded by several sweeping bends.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 12 Preview

Contenders:

Fernando Gaviria is expected to have emerged from the initial barrage of gruelling mountain stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia in good shape, while his supporting riders are also considered more durable in comparison to the leadout trains of his rivals. The Colombian was already approaching his best form last week, so the likelihood of his usual opponents being in worse shape than then, should only serve to improve his odds of success today. He did crash during the individual time trial, but it appears that a small patch of road rash was all he sustained during the incident.

André Greipel  has become a more difficult rider to anticipate in the last couple of seasons, demonstrating greater strength and durability than we had previously come to expect from the big German sprinter. He often emerges in comparatively better form than his rivals as a grand tour passes the midway point and should enjoy this straightforward finale which will allow him to churn out the watts. A degree of questioning hangs above his top sprinting speed so far at the race, but for a rider of his calibre, class is permanent in situations such as these.

Caleb Ewan should have taken the majority of the sprint stages we have seen at 2017’s Giro d’Italia, yet has only managed to collect one and it could prove difficult to improve upon this fact today. The Australian is the fastest rider here alongside Gaviria, yet does not quite possess the same level of strength as his Colombian rival, making it tough to realistically imagine him being fresh enough to take the win. However, his leadout train is clicking into gear nicely at the race and it could be their success which proves enough to compensate for the difference in condition right now.

Sam Bennett is confident that he has the ability to take a grand tour stage victory, despite having been struck by sickness early on in this year’s Giro d’Italia. The Irishman has seen his health improve rapidly in the last few days, appearing extremely motivated to return amongst the fray on Stage 12 and knows that his teammates have emerged from yesterday’s rigours in good shape. His leadout is now close to the best, but may find the very simple conclusion to the day limiting in regards to securing a strong advantage over the trains of Orica and Quick Step for example.

Other riders expected to feature in the mix are Sacha Modolo, Ryan Gibbons, Phil Bauhaus and Jakub Mareczko.

Outcome:

1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd André Greipel 3rd Sam Bennett

Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 7 Preview

Course:

Yesterday’s stage proved to be a tough day to anticipate, the composition of the race winning breakaway failing to meet our expectations, but the move did in fact decide the win amongst themselves as predicted. Stage 7 is a typical intermediate stage of a grand tour race as it traces its way to the first serious mountain challenge of 2017’s edition. Starting in Castrovillari, the route takes the riders on a simple 224km journey to Alberobello, tackling a single Category 4 ascent Bosco delle Pianelle. Much of the racing will be a upon a flat stretch of road, lasting approximately 100km, before tackling the sole rise which separates them from the finish. It is difficult to be certain that the sprinters will find enough support to bring the race back in the final kilometres on Stage 7, but with so few opportunities for the quick men to take further victories at this year’s Giro d’Italia, there is a strong sense that we will be afforded another bunch kick.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 7 Preview

Contenders:

Caleb Ewan just cannot seem to execute his normally ruthless sprint right now, his positioning seeming to be what is leaving him unstuck most right now, a frustrating factor given he is the fastest man here in the eyes of many. The slightly undulating terrain in the final kilometres should be suiting to the young Australian, no doubt hoping that all the pieces of his leadout train finally click into place and deliver him his first victory at the race.

André Greipel will not be a great fan of today’s finale, the technical nature of the run into Alberobello bound to be seen as an undesirable prospect for the power based sprinter. His supporting riders for the sprints are not of his usual standard, while Greipel has rarely performed strongly when having to fight aggressively for positioning through complicated finales such as these. However, if he is able to find his way to the fore, then he will be one of the strongest sprinters on this slight rise to the line.

Fernando Gaviria has managed to ride himself into good form as hoped, now staking his climb to the points jersey as a serious contender by the time the race reaches Milano. Of the three leading sprinters at this edition of the Giro d’Italia, Gaviria is certainly the one most suited to the nature of today’s course and finish. His teammates looked to have finally ironed out the problems within his leadout, one which will now be the most skilled for the tricky closing kilometres today, aiming to deliver their Colombian captain into a perfect position once again.

Phil Bauhaus could be the one who benefits most from a hectic finale on Stage 7, the German rider is extremely fast and would be considered a much greater contender had he been gifted riders to support him specifically in the sprints. Regardless, surfing the wheels might prove enough to bag Bauhaus an unexpected victory.

The likes of Sam BennettSacha ModoloRyan Gibbons and Jakub Mareczko could all feature.

Outcome:

1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd Phil Bauhaus