UCI World Road Championship Bergen 2017 Men's Road Race Preview

Road World Championships Bergen 2017 – Men’s Road Race Preview

Course:

The end of the 2017 road season is hurtling to its conclusion, with Sunday’s Men’s Road Race marking the finale of a brilliant World Championships in the Norwegian city of Bergen. Having watched the preceding races from the elite women and youngsters, today’s title challenge is anticipated to be a difficult to control affair, one which sees nations panic at the prospect of missing any decisive moves. As ever, the course to crown the next World Champion is intended to be a wearing task, chipping away at the riders upon each rotation of the circuit having completed the initial 39.5km of racing. Once the 19.1km circuits begin, the attritional nature of the course will become apparent, the day’s total mileage of 267.5km intended to see only the finest rise to the top.

The eleven laps of the circuit begin with a small rise shortly after first entering, plateauing briefly, before then dropping down once again 5km in. From this point starts much of the climbing on these laps, the road tilting upwards and eventually placing the riders at the day’s sole recognised ascent. Salmon Hill is a 1.5km hill, averaging a very consistent 6.4% on average and should be a challenge which many choose to tackle in the big ring. The drop from the summit is a simple enough descent, allowing riders to push on at great speed, though might not offer quite enough to escape a well organised peloton. The final 4km of the circuit are not particularly technical once heading back into Bergen, though two turns in the final 300m might be enough for a solo move to just cling on after the flamme rouge. With no convincing gradient present, the likelihood of a sprint deciding the day’s winner is high from a reduced bunch, though solo success as been prominent during the supporting races here in Norway.

UCI World Road Championship Bergen 2017 Men's Road Race Preview

Contenders:

Peter Sagan arrives in Norway with the very plausible chance of becoming the first man to win three consecutive World Championship Road Race titles. The course plays to his strengths convincingly enough and provides him with the belief he shall be the fastest men present in a sprint for the win after 267.5km of arduous racing. Two key issues are prominent however for Sagan, and the first is the fact he is Peter Sagan, a rider few others will be interested in working with as part of any moves. Having already won this twice in his career, he certainly does not need to prove himself today and could ride defensively in hope of being towed right the way to the finale. Though Salmon Hill is a key feature on the course, it is there to tire the bunch and is unlikely to prove the launchpad for another swashbuckling Sagan solo move. The second greatest issue for him is his recent illness, Peter Sagan has been sick for almost a week now and has not ridden for three days as a result. He may not be incapacitated by it, but it is certainly enough to take the edge off his form, on a day where only 100% is likely to win the rainbow stripes.

Alexander Kristoff as had an interesting season of results and performances, perhaps reaching this World Championship on home soil as a forgotten favourite, a man who has previously dominated gruelling one day races like this in recent seasons. There is no denying that the course has been built with his talents in mind, aiming to blunt his rivals throughout the day and place him in a position to deliver a home victory in Bergen. The year has not been rich in rewards for Kristoff, though victories at the European Road Race Championship and Ride London have demonstrated his innate talent for riding the perfect one day race. He is also one of the few names who is likely to benefit from miserable weather; native spectators happily cheering on a downpour with hope of improving Kristoff’s odds of winning. Surprisingly fast during a flat sprint, and with Peter Sagan potentially suffering from sickness, Kristoff may emerge as the man to beat.

Fernando Gaviria looks to be the fastest man present at the race this year and can certainly cope with the rigours of this course in convincing fashion to still challenge when it matters most. The Colombian team is a somewhat awkward fit for Gaviria however, supported by many pure climbers who are unlikely to be used to protecting a sprinter all afternoon, let alone trying to lead him out late in the day. He has often proven able to survive the cut on difficult courses like today, though admittedly sees his top end speed suffer as result, potentially leaving him short in the final metres. He is a man which many will want to see dropped, meaning his team and himself will have to be alert to all dangers in hope of keeping him in contention.

Michael Matthews chased home a victorious Peter Sagan in Richmond a couple of years ago and will feel he has only improved further since that point. The Australian team have confirmed that Matthews is the sole leader for the day, intending to keep all their riders in reserve to work for him and making it unlikely we will see any riding from them in speculative breakaway moves. Matthews is known for his indomitable sprinting skill when it comes to short uphill finales, making the Bergen course ill-fitting on paper, though things are never that simple after such a long day of racing. With a powerful and committed squad at his disposal, he should arrive as one of the freshest riders in contention if a bunch kick proves the crowning moment of 2017’s World Championship Road Race. His current form has been convincing in recent weeks and there is no doubt he will be fired up to take the rainbow stripes in the green and gold of Australia.

Elia Viviani arrives as one of the most in form riders at the race, enjoying a raft of victories in recent months and shall be another sprinter many will want to distance. Potentially the fastest man at the race for a flat sprint finish, the Italian knows he has a brilliant chance of winning, as long as he can stay in contention during the hectic concluding laps. As always seems to be the case at the World Championships for Italy, their greatest issue is the assurance of teamwork, as at least three riders shall feel they have a chance of taking the stripes in Bergen. If Viviani cannot get his compatriots united behind him, then life will only be made harder as a consequence, as any unnecessary chasing shall only serve to increase the likelihood of him cracking before the finish line is in sight. However, if he does make the cut and has managed to avoid working too hard earlier in the day, it will be surprising if anyone faster than Elia Viviani is present

Philippe Gilbert could be the joker in the pack, poised to secure an unexpected second rainbow jersey in Bergen, benefiting from a Belgium squad which boasts an incredible degree of cycling talent. As a nation lacking a convincing pure sprinter, they shall be committed to making the repetitions of Salmon Hill as hard as possible, doing their utmost to avoid a large bunch kick finishing the day off. Tiesj Benoot, Oliver Naesen and Tim Wellens are just three examples of Belgian riders which other nations shall not be able to allow any freedom to within the final 50km of racing. This should allow Gilbert to sit behind the favourites and hope to stay as fresh as possible, allowing his teammates to fracture the race repeatedly throughout the city centre circuits. Gilbert’s killer instinct will inform him of which is the key move to follow late in the day, from which his odds of winning look most likely and shall believe he has what it takes to sign off from Norway with a rainbow stripes delivering sprint.

Greg Van Avermaet shall be the equally dangerous game plan for Belgium, a man who has repeatedly shown to be a clinical finisher, specifically when small groups find themselves deciding the outcome of major races. His confidence is greater than ever these days, as recent battles against Peter Sagan have often favoured the Belgian more than the reigning World Champion. Much like teammate Philippe Gilbert, Avermaet will hope that he only needs to make two crucial efforts during the day; one to make the cut and another to win the day. If Belgium can make this course far harder than it appears on first sight, then he will be one of those who shall come to the fore and benefit from a more arduous contest.

Michal Kwiatkowski should be another rider capable of securing his second stint in the rainbow bands on today’s course, though shall not be given the freedom which previously handed him the jersey in 2014. There are no question regarding his ability to survive a day in the saddle as tough as this is likely to prove, especially after taking the win at Milan – San Remo earlier this Spring. His best hope shall be to join a strong breakaway group, as a solo attack shall be difficult on such a simple climb, from where he can choose to sprint for the win or fracture the move further in the final kilometres with a fierce attack.

Matteo Trentin looked to be enjoying great form in the recent Vuelta a España and any confirmation of him having carried his condition through to the World Championships will make him a danger to everyone’s ambitions today. Capable of winning from either a small move or larger bunch sprint, the Italian will fancy his chances on a course which is unlikely to see him dropped from the group of favourites. However, it is unclear what his team orders have been heading into this race and whether he shall agree with any request to ride entirely for his faster compatriot Elia Viviani. If not hamstrung by team orders, then Trentin will aim to vanish up the road and emerge as the fastest man present from a small group of riders.

Others to consider:

Michael Albasini is a namer few will have on their list of contenders, but the veteran Swiss rider deserves a mention off the back of recent performances at Coppa Agostoni – Giro delle Brianze and Coppa Bernocchi; winning the former and finishing fourth in the latter. Both around 200km in distance, he evidently has the condition to bother the favourites today and his sprinting has been the best since earlier this season at his home tour. It will take plenty to occur in order to place Albasini in a race winning position, though recent showings suggest he does have what is required to finish it off.

Edvald Boasson Hagen is another pick for the Norwegian’s to rally behind, especially after a great Tour de France and recent Tour of Britain, both seeing him ride aggressively throughout. It is unclear what the leadership situation is within the home nation’s team, though it would be wasteful to expect Boasson Hagen to protect Alexander Kristoff all day. If a well equipped move of contenders gets free late in the day, expect Boasson Hagen to be quick to join, aiming to bury his fellow escapees with a potent sprint to the line.

Julian Alaphilippe has seen the selectors pick a French team with the intention of supporting him as best as possible, hoping he can repeat some of his familiar early season form which has delivered him great results in the Ardennes Classics. No doubt preferring a tougher course, he might actually benefit from the plan of the Belgian team today, perhaps going as far as to unite with them to break the race apart. He looked to be rediscovering his best in the Vuelta a España a few weeks ago and is worth watching if appearing cool in the pack with less than 50km of racing left.

Outcome:

1st Michael Matthews 2nd Alexander Kristoff 3rd Philippe Gilbert

Advertisements
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 8 Preview

Course:

A difficult day to predict, Stage 8 is another intermediate challenge for the peloton ahead of their arrival upon the footsteps of this year’s first serious mountaintop battles. Totalling 189km as it makes its way from Molfetta to Peschici, the route features both a Category 2 and Category 4 ascent to punctuate the racing, though some of the most intense riding is expected during the opening 85km as the breakaway attempts to form. With a punchy finale which would normally suit the classics specialists, in their absence, it will be somewhat of a lottery as to who will be in contention as the race comes down to the final kilometres.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 8 Preview

Contenders:

Omar Fraile may prove to be the best bet for Team Dimension Data now Nathan Haas looks to have become ill in the last day or so. Fraile arrives here off the back of an extremely strong performance at the Tour of Yorkshire, suiting this rolling run into the finish line at Peschici. Strong enough to attack solo from a breakaway, he will be a dangerous rider if allowed to open up too great a gap upon his rivals.

Dario Cataldo could be given the chance to throw his hat in the ring on Stage 8, his explosive finishing abilities being hard to match on the uphill drag to the line. Astana are certainly on the hunt to secure a stage victory as soon as possible, with the profile of today an appealing prospect for Cataldo to potentially perform upon.

José Gonçalves would normally have been a regular face in the breakaways by now, but his recent move to Team Katusha – Alpecin has clearly reduced his freedom to animate contests like today. Regardless, this might not even prove a tough enough challenge to catch his eye, though he remains a strong contender if able to join the breakaway.

Enrico Battaglin once possessed a strong reputation for competing convincingly on parcours such as these, but at this year’s Giro d’Italia, the native rider appears to be happy to focus upon contesting the reduced sprint finishes when possible. Should he manage to feature as part of a racing deciding move, then Battaglin certainly has the experience to convert his presence into a stage win.

Michael Woods shall be fired up to join the move today, especially as Cannondale – Drapac were surprisingly absent from the move on Stage 6 which eventually decided the day’s winner. The Canadian rider has a developing talent for the steep gradients which feature late on in the race and could prove unmatchable if at the fore during the final moments of Stage 8.

Other riders who could feature in this lottery are Adam YatesLuis Leon SanchezRui Costa, Pello Bilbao and Adam Hansen.

Outcome:

1st Omar Fraile 2nd Michael Woods 3rd Enrico Battaglin

Outsider: Fernando Gaviria 

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

Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 5 Preview

Course:

It was almost a perfect 1, 2, 3 for Spokenforks yesterday atop Mount Etna, but the gutsy effort of Jan Polanc meant he just crept over the line ahead of our tipped winner Ilnur Zakarin, chased home by Geraint Thomas and Thibaut Pinot. Stage 5 looks to be a return to the hands of the sprinters at this year’s Giro d’Italia, a relatively short 159km from Pedara to Messina, the finale being in the hometown of previous race winner Vincenzo Nibali. There is a single Category 4 climb to be captured en route to the finish, as the general nature of the race profile is that of a steady descent, which eventually levels out to provide the fastest riders with a 1500m long finishing straight to crown the day’s winner.

Giro d'Italia 2017 Stage 5 Preview

Contenders:

André Greipel is enjoying some brilliant form right now and has proven to be able to cope with the fierce winds which have struck the race on both Sicily and Sardinia. The German rider will relish this power based finish, one which does not require any stressing as to negotiating late turns or tricky road furniture. His leadout train is not of the quality which we are used to seeing at Le Tour de France, but Lotto-Soudal appear to be overcoming this factor the further the race progresses.

Caleb Ewan has been unfortunate to have not picked up a stage victory thus far, the young Australian mostly likely the fastest rider present, has been unable to place himself in a position from which to win from. This drag race to the line is ideal for him to unleash his incredibly rapid sprint finish, allowing his leadout team to focus on getting him up to top speed, rather than seeking to ensure his positioning is perfect.

Fernando Gaviria was victorious on Stage 3, though today’s shorter and more simplistic finish could make it difficult for him to better the likes of Caleb Ewan and André Greipel. Gaviria looks to be improving as the stages pass by, acclimatising to the intensity of grand tour racing and finding his groove in the hectic sprint finishes once again. His greatest strength is how rapidly he can accelerate to top speed, making it likely he will try to stay hidden on the wheel of his rivals, before bursting to the fore with the line approaching rapidly.

Giacomo Nizzolo is another rider who is finding his form at this year’s Giro d’Italia day by day, though he will have to muster something resembling his best in order to challenge for the win on Stage 5. The Italian road race champion possesses a strong team to support him in the final kilometres, but he could do with a few technical challenges to take advantage of his more powerful rivals.

Other names likely to feature in the top ten after Stage 5 are Sacha ModoloPhil BahausSam Bennett and Kristian Sbaragli.

Outcome:

1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd André Greipel

Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 3 Preview

Course:

André Greipel turned in an impressive performance yesterday, surviving the day’s stresses and taking the sprint finish in convincing style to secure his first maglia rosa. Stage 3 is a considerable step down in mileage compared to the opening couple of days, totalling a modest 148km as it covers a relatively flat course from Tortolì to Cagliari. There is little chance of the day’s breakaway surviving, thus the sprinters look assured of another opportunity to duke it out for stage honours on day three of 2017’s Giro d’Italia. Yesterday’s headwind had an impact upon the race and there will be somewhat of a consideration it may split the bunch during the today’s race to Cagliari as the winds pick up even more viciously; the GC contenders will be nervous.

Giro d'Italia 2017 Stage 3 Preview

Contenders:

André Greipel pulled off a surprise victory on yesterday’s stage, managing to maintain good condition while climbing, before navigating his way through an ideal sprint finish which saw him dominate the run to the line. Today appears to be another great opportunity for the German rider to pocket a Giro d’Italia stage victory, the shorter distance and simple finish should provide him with an ideal platform to charge home to victory.

Caleb Ewan was unfortunate to bump shoulders with rival Fernando Gaviria, after which he appeared to unclip one of his shoes, removing him from contention for the stage victory. The Aussie is eager to overturn his disappointment from the opening two days and this should be a simple enough day in the saddle for himself and the team. He is the fastest rider here, yet has so far come unstuck due to misfortune, but he should take the win if all goes to plan on day three.

Fernando Gaviria has not quite appeared as strong as many anticipated, however he lost touch with his leadout train on Stage 1 and ended up colliding with Caleb Ewan on Stage 2 after launching an early sprint into a headwind. These performances have made it difficult to truly gauge his form at the moment, though it does seem like he is slightly behind André Greipel and Caleb Ewan in regards to high end speed. Today’s finish is suiting enough for the Colombian and his Quick Step teammates will be able to conserve a greater amount of energy on this shorter stage. 

Jasper Stuyven was a surprise presence on the podium yesterday and will be a strong contender to cause an upset if the winds truly begin scything through the peloton. The Belgian rider is highly skilled at surviving the attritional stresses of crosswinds, after which he may emerge as the fastest rider present in a lead group.

Giacomo Nizzolo should find the shorter stage distance to his liking as he attempts to ride himself into form during this opening week of the Giro d’Italia. His build up to the race has been far from ideal, making it very difficult to realistically estimate how he will perform on this short and flat stage which is normally favourable for the Italian champion. Regardless, if the expected winds do not prove too decisive, there is every chance he could feature in the mix.

Sacha Modolo saw his support man Roberto Ferrari finish second behind André Greipel on Stage 2, the former losing touch with his leadout man and thus allowing his teammate a chance at victory. Normal service shall resume tomorrow, but it will take a huge performance for Modolo to get the better of the three fastest riders here; Ewan, Greipel and Gaviria.

Other contenders include Enrico BattaglinPhil Bauhaus and Ryan Gibbons.

Outcome:

1st Caleb Ewan 2nd André Greipel 3rd Fernando Gaviria