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

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Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 21 Preview

Course:

In recent years, individual time trials have done little to excite fans at grand tours, but the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia is poised to finish with a race against the clock which could potentially hand the maglia rosa over to one of four riders on the last day. Starting on the famous motor racing circuit of Monza, the stage comprises 29.3km of predominantly downhill racing, concluding at the capital’s extraordinary Duomo di Milano. There is no great amount of technical demands to be negotiated, nor does the topography offer anything in the way of climbs to separate the general classification big names on the last day. Of course, that is not to say it is simply a case of climbing upon the bike and finishing some 29.3.km later with immense ease. A handful of tight turns are present later in the course, which given how hard the frontrunners are expected to be pushing, are always capable of punishing the slightest lapse in concentration when cornering. A total of 75 seconds separates current maglia rosa owner Nairo Quintana, from the chasing pack of Vincenzo Nibali, Thibaut Pinot, Tom Dumoulin and Ilnur Zakarin; these five riders capable of finishing in almost any order after the time trial. Regardless of who does succeed in securing 2017’s centenary edition of the Giro d’Italia, the script for Stage 21 is far from certain.

Giro d'Italia 2017 Stage 21 Preview

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin has had to dig extremely deep in order to limit his losses in this final week of racing, yet has successfully placed himself within touching distance of his first overall grand tour stage victory. Just how much energy he has had to invest is the greatest question mark hanging above him, potentially hampering his efforts here and leaving him just short of the maglia rosa. The Dutchman’s prowess against the clock has been almost unmatchable in recent years, though this course does not provide the rolling terrain and technical nature which has often seen Dumoulin bury his opposition. Regardless, his talent for this discipline is indomitable, and the motivation of winning the pink jersey can only serve has added fuel en route to victory.

Thibaut Pinot produced another aggressive display during yesterday’s stage, culminating in his first Giro d’Italia stage win, as predicted by Spokenforks beforehand. Of those currently challenging for the overall win, Pinot appears to be in the strongest condition in this decisive week of racing and seems the one most likely to overachieve on Stage 21. Despite having previously been seen as a weak time trialist, the French rider has worked hard on this skill, now finding himself as reigning national time trial champion and winner of Stage 3’s individual time trial at 2016’s Tour de Romandie. Though he would favour a route with at least a few hills, being a larger rider could prove beneficial on this flat power based course, a second place finish overall is certainly achievable; perhaps even more.

Vincenzo Nibali did not produce the sort of ruthlessly cunning display which has often seen him snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at major races like these. Now sitting a total of 39 seconds back on race leader Nairo Quintana, he will be looking over his shoulder at Thibaut Pinot and Tom Dumoulin, both of whom could perform strongly enough to push the defending champion off the podium. He has ridden his concluding stages with a cagey mentality, making it difficult to gauge what Nibali might be able to muster with the pink jersey at stake. This course is not well suited to his attributes, yet there should be enough to just about keep his toes upon the Milanese podium.

Nairo Quintana seems the rider most likely to lose out on Stage 21, the Movistar captain far from being enamoured with the rigours of flat individual time trials. The Colombian has not succeeded in using the final mountain stages to build enough of a buffer to his rivals heading into this time trial, now finding himself with Tom Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot placed within the margin of loss which Quintana is expected to suffer during the final stage. It will be extremely difficult to defend a modest 43″ and 53″ lead to the Frenchman and Dutchman respectively, especially on this mid-distance route, lacking anything resembling favourable terrain for Quintana; slipping off the podium lurks ominously in Milano.

Ilnur Zakarin was a major protagonist yesterday, igniting the fuse upon the final climb of the Giro d’Italia, author of the attack which culminated in Thibaut Pinot winning the stage and Tom Dumoulin losing time to all major rivals. The Russian was a competent rider in time trials earlier in his career, but has now chosen to hone his talents in the mountains instead. Despite this factor, he now looks to be one of the sharpest riders in this final week and will be confident of turning in a performance which harks back to his previous prowess against the clock. It will be difficult to progress further up the general classification on Stage 21, his greatest chance of doing so being a plummeting Nairo Quintana falling down to fifth.

Vasil Kiryienka could prove to be the man to beat on the last stage of the 100th Giro d’ItaliaTeam Sky having undoubtedly looked after their Belarusian powerhouse with the intention of adding another stage win to their collection. The stoney faced rider will not have to worry about any climbs or particularly technical segments here, focusing instead on generating huge amounts of watts and sustaining them throughout the 29.3km course. He crashed in the final corner of the first individual time trial, yet still held the fastest time for a while and will now likely view that error as motivation to take the win in Milano.

Bob Jungels will be expected to recover the maglia bianca from Adam Yates on the final stage off the Giro d’Italia, the young rider being renowned for his ability against the clock since his early days. Many anticipated that he would begin to diminish in the concluding stages, yet the Luxembourg time trial champion has managed to match the majority of big names when required and may even push for the win here. Though not truly playing to his strengths, he appears comparatively fresh to others, which may prove enough to deliver the victory.

Those who may challenge for the last stage honours on offer at 2017’s Giro d’Italia are Luis Leon Sanchez, Manuel QuinziatoJos van Emden and Tobias Ludvigsson.

Outcome:

1st Vasil Kiryienka 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Thibaut Pinot

Final General Classification:

1st Tom Dumoulin 2nd Thibaut Pinot 3rd Vincenzo Nibali

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

Giro_d'Italia_Preview_2016

Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 1 Preview

Course:

After hurtling our way through the classics season we now find ourselves on the precipice of 2016’s first grand tour of the season – the Giro d’Italia. The oncoming explosive battle for the overall win will be ignited right away with a head to head battle between Fabian Cancellara and Tom Dumoulin in a 9.8km prologue round the Dutch streets of Apeldoorn, set to determine who will see their shoulders emblazoned with the maglia rosa at the end of the day.

Giro_d'Italia_Preview_2016

Contenders:

Fabian Cancellara is the standout contender for today’s race against the clock, the Swiss legend appeared in fantastic form during the spring and has long circled this as a huge target in his farewell season. Unfortunately for ‘Spartacus’, the last 24hrs has seen him suffer from a bout of stomach flu, but he appears in high spirits having confirmed that he will participate regardless. This year has seen him return to an extremely high level of time trialling for the first time in several seasons and he will be the man to beat; even if still sweating out the flu.

Tom Dumoulin has joined the ranks of the elite time trial specialists during the previous couple of seasons, but today’s prologue does not exactly play to his strengths. The Dutchman usually performs best when the terrain gets bumpy, so this course which comprises greatly of flat straights is likely to hinder him somewhat. On the other hand, home motivation and support has often been a source for stage wins at grand tours such as this and there will no doubt be plenty around to help him over the line.

Anton Vorobyev will be on many pundits ‘ones to watch’ list for this curtain raising prologue in the Dutch streets, hoping to fly under the radar and steal a win from beneath the big name riders’ noses. The young Russian rider was U23 World Champion in 2012 and comes here after a very impressive showing at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe which featured wins upon both the time trial and queen stage.

Bob Jungels always remains a threat on these short blasts against the clock given his ability to dish out the power, but would have preferred either a hillier or more technically demanding course to truly be a favourite.

Jos Van Emden shall be another source of home support during this prologue, the thirty-one year old Dutch rider looking to build upon recent efforts in prologues to win here; no doubt a long held ambition of his in the build-up to 2016’s Giro d’Italia.

Outcome:

1st Fabian Cancellara 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Anton Vorobyev