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

Road World Championships Bergen 2017 – Men’s Individual Time Trial

Course:

With the end of the cycling season now upon us, attention has once again turned upon the World Championships and all eyes are on Bergen to discover where each rainbow jersey shall end up this year. Today is the keenly anticipated Men’s Individual Time Trial, featuring a route which should shake things up for the usual favourites when it comes to racing against the clock.

This 31km course comprises two laps and a thrilling uphill battle to the summit finish atop Mount Floyen, making it far from familiar territory for the pure time trial specialist. Such a short course for the world title decider is unusual, but organisers are aiming to make the concluding climb as explosive as possible, thus do not wish to drain the riders entirely before the big finale. Rising almost immediately from the start, the first half of the race is a gently rolling affair which shall offer a chance to settle into a rhythm, though there is a strong possibility many will be caught out by how hilly Bergen is to a degree.

Of course, the second half of the race is focused entirely upon Mount Floyen, where many expect the rainbow jersey to be won or lost by the day’s contenders. Lasting for 3.4km in total, the climb is a significant task to be conquered, though such a title is certainly not intended to be an easy win for the riders. The average gradient of 9.1% is relatively true throughout, though it does tip over 10% for a kilometre, eventually softening to 5.5% for the final push to the line. With no real relief en route to the summit, the frontrunners shall need to measure their concluding effort to perfection, as blowing up on Mount Floyen will see riders haemorrhage time.

UCI World Road Championship Bergen 2017 Men's Individual Time Trial Preview

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin sees the dominance of previous time trial champions such as Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin come to a close in cycling’s history, with his own rise to prominence potentially marking the beginning of another period of dominance. Having enjoyed a super year of racing, featuring a Giro d’Italia title, the Dutchman arrives in Bergen to finish 2017 with a bang. He has been relatively modest of his chances here, despite being part of the Sunweb squad which secured the team time trial title earlier in the week and having been an indomitable force in this discipline throughout much of the year. With his climbing talents afforded the chance to feature as well today, Tom Dumoulin may deliver a devastating victory atop Mount Floyen.

Chris Froome exited the Vuelta a España in fantastic form and could be the man who pushes Tom Dumoulin right the way to the finish line in pursuit of the rainbow stripes. After a defensively ridden Tour de France, the Team Sky captain performed more aggressively in Spain and has spoken confidently of his form approaching the Bergen time trial. Many of his grand tour victories have been built upon his foundation of time trial talents, with much of his career work being focused on climbing, thus the two merge neatly for Froome today with potentially unmatchable results. He will aim to be in a good position ahead of the concluding climb, hoping that he can give it everything to take a big chunk of time out of his rivals late on.

Primoz Roglic is a rider who has enjoyed a breakthrough year and certainly has the capability to threaten the medal positions in Bergen. However, his form is unclear currently and the course does not suit him quite as well as it could have done. His victories during 2017 have often caught pundits and fans by surprise, making him a dangerous name to rule out entirely of challenging for gold unexpectedly.

Vasil Kiryienka is a former winner of the rainbow jersey and might feel he has a reasonable chance of performing strongly once again on a course such as this. Despite sacrificing himself for much of the season for Team Sky once again, often not showing much in time trials along the way, the Belarusian always seems able to muster a last charge for this special race. His pedigree is certainly not under any scrutiny and he will appreciate this great opportunity to take another title on a fitting course.

Victor Campenaerts took the European time trial title this season and deserves consideration as a medal contender if on his most sparkling form once again. The final rise to the line is somewhat of an issue for the Belgian rider, though he might be able to gain such an advantage in the earlier part of the contest, that he can hope to measure his remaining energy well enough to protect a potential lead.

Others worth considering are Rohan DennisStefan Küng, Maciej Bodnar and Jonathan Castroviejo.

Outcome:

1st Tom Dumoulin 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Vasil Kiryienka

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Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 20 Preview

Course:

There is perhaps less pressure placed upon this individual time trial than many anticipated heading into the final week, but that does not mean to say stress levels will not be soaring as the general classification favourites do their utmost to stay upright and avoid any late mishaps before the Champs Élysées. The short 22.5km course based in Marseille draws its focus to the sole climb of the day, a steep rise to Notre-Dame de la Garde which lasts 1.7km and possesses a gradient of 9.5%. The following downhill section is technically demanding and could prove hazardous if conditions are reminiscent of those seen in Düsseldorf at the start of this grand tour three weeks ago. Though the yellow jersey is unlikely to change at this late stage of the race, the general classification still as some major battles, most crucially between Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 20

Contenders:

Chris Froome will not wish to walk away from this Tour de France having won the overall and not managed to secure a stage win in the process. He has not been his normally aggressive self during this race and has relied more than ever on the strength of his teammates to ensure rivals are kept on a tight leash. He maintains that his form is now peaking during this final week, aiming to dominant this affair and hammer home a strong advantage at last.

Primoz Roglic has enjoyed a brilliant time at the Tour de France, taking great confidence into this time trial, one which he will no doubt believe is within his grasp of winning. He may well lose time on the steep ascent of Notre-Dame de la Garde and the subsequent technical descent, but has the power to outperform major rivals on the more simplistic parts of the course. At the end of such an arduous race, there is a chance of Roglic having lost a degree of explosiveness, though much of the same can be suggested of many contenders today.

Stephen Cummings entered the race in unexpectedly blistering form, though has not been fortunate enough on this occasion to take a stage victory. Had he not invested such a great deal earlier in the race, then Cummings may well have been a greater favourite for stage honours in Marseille, the feeling being that he is unlikely to have sustained the level of strength with which he first started Le Tour de France.

Vasil Kiryienka is a former world champion at the individual time trial, though has not produced that degree of performance for a long time now, often finding himself at the call of his Team Sky teammates at major races such as these instead. Of the traditional time trialists in contention here, the Belarusian rider is the one most likely to have survived in a convincing enough shape to still produce close to his best. The course does not truly suit his talents, but at the tail end of a grand tour, fatigue is often a greater factor than simply what appears favourable on paper.

Tony Martin could perhaps be the greatest time trial rider of all time, yet the German hero has seen his performances ebb and flow more than ever recently, struggling to sustain the level of dominance we once saw from him several years ago. He was bitterly disappointed to have missed out on the win and yellow jersey in Düsseldorf at the start of Le Tour, no doubt pursuing this second opportunity against the clock to compensate. He will have to produce his best in order to win here, as he has invested plenty in helping his Katusha teammates and is now likely to have paid the price as a result; class is permanent however.

Others to consider are Jonathan CastroviejoStegan KüngMaciej Bodnar and Michal Kwiatkowski.

Outcome:

1st Chris Froome 2nd Primoz Roglic 3rd Vasil Kiryenka

Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

This year’s edition of the biggest race in cycling shall depart from the German city of Düsseldorf, with a short individual time trial to decide who gets to wear the first maillot jaune of 2017. Offering only a couple of moderate rises during its 14km entirety and minimal turns to negotiate safely, this is a course designed to produce a drag race amongst the riders blessed with an ability against the clock. The greatest challenge to the contest shall be the threat of rain, potentially favouring those who manage to race the course on entirely dry roads. Regardless, it is certain to be a great celebration of Le Tour in Germany and one bound to be afforded a thrilling contest given the potent array of time trial specialists present.

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 1 Preview

Contenders:

Tony Martin has long seen this day marked in his diary, the organisers doing their utmost to produce a course which will favour the native rider and ensure one of the nation’s most popular riders starts Stage 2 in yellow. His prowess in this discipline has proven astonishing at times in his career, long since securing his place amongst the greatest ever time trialists, though this opening stage distance is not quite synonymous with such performances of his. Martin favours days which allow him to utilise his diesel engine style of riding, churning over a huge gear and sustaining the grind throughout the race. With only 14km to contest on the first stage, the reigning world champion will need to be much more explosive and produce the sort of display we associate with him in time trials more than twice as long as today’s.

Primoz Roglic appears to be improving consistently against the clock and will enter Stage 1 as a real threat to the German organisers’ dreams of Tony Martin ending the day in the maillot jaune. His style of riding has subsequently changed as a result of realising his abilities in this discipline and will feel confident of challenging for the win on this short course. Though he may not have the sustained power of main rival Martin, Roglic is likely to be able to get up to pace more rapidly than the German and make this an extremely tight battle.

Jonathan Castroviejo is another rider who has seen his prowess in these contests increase in recent seasons and should be aiming for a podium finish on Stage 1 at the very least. He would have preferred something with a few more technical demands and rises in terrain, but should still turn in a strong showing despite these factors. The Movistar rider may not have been at his best during the start of the season, though now seems to be finding his best again when it matters most.

Stefan Küng arrives here after taking the Swiss TT title just last week and will be seeking to carry his blistering form onto the starting ramp in Düsseldorf. The route is hard to anticipate in terms of favourability for the talented Swiss rider, but the consensus is that it offers the minimum required for him to mount a serious charge for the yellow jersey.

Jos van Emden has truly established himself as one of the most talented prologue and short-distance time trial riders currently in the peloton, no doubt looking upon the stage profile with great delight. It will be difficult for him to reproduce his excellent form from this season’s Giro d’Italia once again, but if he can at least come close to replicating it, then he has a convincing chance of winning this first day of 2017’s Le Tour de France.

Others worth considering for top 10 placings are Stephen CummingsMichael MatthewsMichal Kwiatkowski and Maciej Bodnar.

Outcome:

1st Tony Martin 2nd Jos Van Emden 3rd Primoz Roglic

World Road Race Championship 2017 (Qatar)

World Championships 2016 – Men’s Individual Time Trial Preview

Course:

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

World Time Trial Championship 2017 (Qatar)

Contenders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outcome:

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

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

After almost three weeks of racing, the specialists against the clock shall step into the limelight at last and look to take their sole opportunity of glory in Stage 19’s individual time trial. A relatively simple route from Xàbia to Calp will last 37km and looks the ideal terrain to establish a high speed battle amongst the contenders for stage honours here. However, with many twists and turns on the cards for the riders, there is also a large technical element to the day which will need negotiating en route to victory.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 19 Preview

Contenders:

Jonathan Castroviejo shall view today as his to lose, with few thoroughbred time trialists at La Vuelta, there shall not be many likely to push the Spanish rider to his limits for the win. The Movistar rider has long been closing the gap to the likes of Tony MartinTom Dumoulin and Bradley Wiggins, now finding himself without such a rival to truly test him as the peloton reaches Stage 19. Barring any technical errors or bad weather, Castroviejo is the clear favourite to secure a home win for Spanish fans.

Chris Froome may not be at his imperious best, but there is no doubt that he has been saving energy in anticipation of putting in a monstrous performance today. The gap to leader Nairo Quintana has grown considerably and it is hard to imagine Sky were expecting to chase such a deficit by the time they reached this point. Regardless, Froome’s goal now is to reduce the lead of Quintana as soon as possible, potentially setting himself up for a spectacular final few days at La Vuelta a España.

Luis León Sánchez Gil has previously performed very well during individual time trials which come late in a grand tour, marking himself out as a definite contender, especially given his strength during the last couple of weeks. He might not be the fastest against the clock, but once an attritional race takes its toll on his rivals, there is no reason he cannot better the time of any rider.

Victor Campenaerts is reigning Belgian time trial champion, contesting his first career grand tour in the shape of La Vuelta and clearly has an eye on performing well here after finishing last yesterday in hope of conserving energy. Had this come during the first week of racing, Campenaerts would have been high on the list of contenders, but the effects of a draining debut grand tour may now limit his chances on Stage 19.

Vegard Stake Laengen took a surprising third place during this year’s Giro d’Italia on Stage 9, reminding people of his decent ability in an individual time trial as a result. Given the distance and terrain on offer, the Norwegian has a great chance of featuring in the mix once again and should be worth watching.

Others deserving of consideration are Tobias LudvigssonFabio FellineAlberto ContadorSilvan Dillier and Thomas De Gendt.

Outcome:

1st Jonathan Castroviejo 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Luis León Sánchez Gil

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

La Vuelta a España once again looks to the team time trial to raise the curtain on they season’s final grand tour. An immensely testing and technical discipline, this 27.8km route from Ourense to Parque Nautico de Castrelo de Miño will prove a rude awakening for many in the peloton with only a handful of teams likely to relish this arduous opening to the race. The road rises immediately from the start, but soon becomes a more manageable rolling profile which will quicken the pace in the first half, before then offering up wide roads that shall prove ideal for laying down a huge wattage all the way to the line. A day for those who can generate and sustain large power outputs, this team time trial will be an extremely fast introduction to the next three weeks of life at La Vuelta a España.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 1 PreviewContenders:

Movistar have become one of the most consistent performers in this discipline, combining engine power with technical skill to great effect. Like the majority of teams at this year’s race, the composition of the squad leans strongly towards climbers, but Movistar look to have the strength required to perform competitively on today’s course. Though Jonathan Castroviejo is the only true specialist present for them, the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Rory Sutherland are all capable of putting in a performance to match him in this short challenge.

Sky may not have their ideal set of riders available for the opening day’s team time trial, but they shall remain motivated to secure a good performance in this highly pressurised discipline. Though they have riders competent in a time trial such as Chris Froome and Michal Kwiatkowski, there will be concerns that the gulf in ability to the likes of Ian Boswell and Michal Golas is greater than that of other team’s rosters in contention on Stage 1.

BMC are the reigning world champions in this specialist exercise and will hope this foundation propels them onwards to success by the end of the first day. Unlike many here, their strength appears to stem from a lack of any true time trialist within their ranks, thus calling upon them to function efficiently as a whole team which does not expect one or two riders to carry the greatest load. It will be interesting to see how this approach performs in comparison to the likes of Movistar or Sky and their greater number of true TT riders.

Others who could all challenge for a podium place are former world champions Etixx-QuickStepTinkoff and Orica-BikeExchange.

Outcome:

1st Movistar 2nd BMC 3rd Sky

Rio Olympics Individual Time Trial 2016 Preview

Olympic Games Rio 2016 – Men’s Individual Time Trial Preview

Course:

A reduced schedule of riders will contest 2016’s Olympic Individual Time Trial after a crash strewn road race last weekend left several nursing road rash and broken bones. The 54.6km course which is set to decide 2016’s gold medal winner mostly comprises two laps of the Grumari Grota Funda ascents, bookended by two relatively simple flat sections at the start and finish. Riders will face the Grumari first, a 1.3km climb which averages 9.4% and features a leg-breaking ramp of double-digits which strikes a dizzying 24% before the top. The Grota Funda is longer at 2.1km, but its average gradient of 6.8% is a much more consistent affair which only briefly touches 10% towards the summit. These two ascents are then repeated, before a final ride down to the coastline will allow many to lay down the final watts ahead of the finish line.

Rio Olympics Road Race 2016 Preview

Contenders:

Chris Froome crushed his opposition against the clock at this year’s Tour de France at each time of asking and arrives here as the favourite for many to perform best on a course which leans in favour of those comfortable with climbing. It is unlikely that he shall be at his absolute best for this race, but that is likely to still be enough to earmark Froome as a potential medalist in Rio.

Tom Dumoulin seemed destined to walk away with gold today from the start of the season, but a seemingly innocuous crash late in this year’s Tour de France inflicted a broken wrist and thus raised huge doubts as to whether the Dutchman would even compete. This mixed course of power flats and steep climbs is ideal terrain for Dumoulin and it is difficult to see anyone as well suited to this as the peloton’s leading time trial specialist. The greatest concern is obviously his recovery from the broken wrist, a factor which could become more problematic as the strain of this 54.6km race takes its toll on the demanding aerodynamic position required here.

Vasil Kiryienka is the reigning World Champion of this discipline and has a well documented history of peaking perfectly for major occasions. The Belarusian rider may not have impressed a great deal this year, but his commitment to the orders of Team Sky and his race leaders often limits his efforts when it comes to these contests. Today however is a totally different story, Kiryienka provided the freedom in Rio to demonstrate why he is the current World Champion.

Rohan Dennis has long focused upon performing well at Rio and appears to have enjoyed a relatively neat lead up to this race. Dennis performs well on this type of contrasting profile, giving him the opportunity to lay down the power at each end, while showcasing his climbing prowess during the larger mid-sections. He may be viewed as somewhat of an outsider, but given his incredible intentions to peak for today, it would be foolish to think he cannot cause an upset.

Fabian Cancellara‘s farewell season has done little to shine the kind of glory upon the Swiss legend we have grown accustomed to before he hangs up his wheels for life. He is another rider who specialises in reaching peak condition for a single day in the calendar, with this being one of the few remaining chances of major honours in his career, there is no doubt that he will have invested the utmost in challenging for a medal in Rio. The climbs are tough in places, though their short length will encourage him to pace the ascents and focus upon gaining the maximum amount of time during the downhill segues into the flat sections.

Tony Martin is well deserving of a mention here, even though there has been little evidence to suggest backing him to victory at the expense of all highlighted above. The German time trial specialist is no longer the dominant force he once was, yet he has maintained that Olympic gold is still a great ambition of his in 2016. Martin has improved his climbing ability year on year, without having to concede a great deal of engine power to do so, equipping him with a perfect set of skills to perform well today.

Other names who could all cause a stir at the top of the classification by the end of the race include; Taylor PhinneyIon Izagirre, Jonathan CastroviejoGeraint Thomas and Nelson Oliveira.

Outcome:

1st Vasil Kiryienka 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Tom Dumoulin