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

Rapido Guide – Tirreno Adriatico Stage 7 Preview

Course:

With several names still in contention for the overall win at Tirreno Adriatico the outcome will be decided by the final day’s individual time trial. The 10km blast around the streets of San Benedetto Del Tronto is poised to determine 2016’s edition of the race, but our attention instead turns to the likely contenders for stage victory on the concluding day.

T07_SanBenedetto_alt

Contenders:

Fabian Cancellara is in fantastic form so far this season and it is easy to see him taking the victory here with a barnstorming run which sets him up nicely for the classics season. Tony Martin is renowned for his abilities against the clock and this flat course should suit him well, though the short distance might make it difficult for the German to really put the power down effectively. Taylor Phinney is still on the road to recovery, but today is a fantastic opportunity to notch another won during his recuperation, the shorter course offering Phinney a realistic chance of causing an upset. Other riders likely to pepper the day’s final top ten are Alex DowsettStephen CummingsMaciej Bodnar and Bob Jungels.

It is also worth mentioning, that in the battle for the overall classification at Tirreno Adriatico, we expect World Champion Peter Sagan to overturn the deficit and walk away with his first stage race win in the rainbow bands; despite having not won an individual stage.

Outcome:

1st Fabian Cancellara 2nd Taylor Phinney 3rd Tony Martin

Tour-of-Qatar-Podium

Out Of The Desert – Qatar Part 2

After six testing days beneath the Qatari sun, Niki Terpstra was crowned 2015’s Tour of Qatar Champion, successfully defending his title of 2014 when taking the lead with a barnstorming time trial victory on the third day. Organisers assembled an impressive cast of riders from the upper echelons of cycling; echelons which would immediately become the daily worry for riders. Seemingly endless strips of silky tarmac bisected an equally infinite desert, assuring the peloton of zero protection once the chaos inducing crosswinds stirred. Rainbows of riders soon stretched diagonally across the road in sequence, seeking shelter off the shoulder of the next man. Repeating this frantic battle every day drained the legs of the pure sprinters and saw general classification prospects lose time with ease; the message for those wishing to take home a stage win or jersey was simple – stay out of trouble. After a race as tiring mentally as it was physically, who were the winners and losers of the Tour of Qatar 2015?

 

Winners:

Nike-Terpstra-Qatar-2015

Niki Terpstra

Niki Terpstra defended his title from last year thanks to a terrific individual time trial performance and plenty of guile to survive the chaotic days surfing echelons. His win makes it 8 overall victories for Quick Step sponsored teams in the last 10 editions of the Tour of Qatar, a race which has only been running since 2002. Ensuring he finished with the main contenders for the most part, the Dutchman pulled an upset when beating both Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins against the clock on Stage 3. Having gained the leader’s jersey, the main threat was the sudden purple patch Alexander Kristoff found himself in; taking time bonuses to reduce Terpstra’s lead to 11 seconds before the final day’s criterium. Unfortunately for the tough Norwegian, the sheer pace of the city centre race proved too unrelenting, eventually blunting any hope of stealing the overall victory from Terpstra in dramatic fashion.

Alexander-Kristoff-Qatar-2015

Alexander Kristoff

The man who truly grabbed the race by the horns was Alexander Kristoff, leaving Qatar with three stage victories and a big statement to those who will face him in the Spring Classics soon. When everyone else would rather be sitting at home watching the racing, Kristoff has a knack for making the most of the least ‘bike friendly’ weather you find on the WorldTour. After taking Milan-San Remo in the face of 294km’s worth of icy rain and now finding three victories in the midst of the crosswind carved sandstorms; the Norwegian’s herculean achievements assure him the title of ‘Hard Man’ yet again.

Peter Sagan finds himself stuck in no man’s land often when facing the final kilometres of a race; not fast enough for the pure sprinters and not strong enough in the classics thus far. Riding Qatar will have instilled greater confidence (if even possible) to Sagan that he is finding form once again however. Over the six stages (excluding Stage 3’s ITT) of Qatar, Peter Sagan finished 4th, 4th, 2nd, 2nd and 4th; another example of the consistency which secured him the green jersey at 2014’s Le Tour despite no wins. Sadly a win did elude him during his time in Qatar too, but by displaying such strength and opportunism like Alexander Kristoff in the midst of treacherous conditions, it would be wise to pencil Peter Sagan in for his first Classics win this year.

It was always going to be an acutely observed transition as Adam Blythe made his return to the WorldTour; parting ways with UK’s NFTO Racing and joining Orica-GreenEDGE. His debut in Qatar will have pleased plenty at the Australian team, settling any qualms as to his ability to operate at the very top of racing. Blythe came away with 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th as his top placings during the six days and should feel confident of taking victories this season with the support afforded to him by Orica-GreenEDGE

Sam-Bennet-Qatar-2015

Sam Bennet

Spokenforks stated that the likes of Sam Bennet could benefit in the second half of the race as the big name sprinters suffered; the accumulative effects of challenging for the win everyday taking its toll. Bennet appeared to identify this opportunity perfectly, surviving in the middle of the pack for the majority of the week. He was last man home on Stage 5, saving himself before striking on the final day with a blistering sprint and taking a major victory early in the season.

Poland has been experiencing a renaissance as of late and the 29 year old Maciej Bodnar decided Qatar was his chance to get in on the action too. Having watched his time only bettered by Terpstra and Cancellara, before being equaled by Bradley Wiggins in the time trial; Bodnar was in a position to think of securing a sound GC position. Though some contenders lost ground through misfortune, Bodnar showed an ability to steer clear of trouble and eventually cut his deficit to 6 seconds; finishing second behind Terpstra in the overall.

Losers:

Marcel Kittel – was he even there? Across the six stages in Qatar the German powerhouse failed to score a top 50 finish on a single day. Most damningly of all perhaps is that fact his ‘top’ finish of 56th came in the individual time trial. Though these early season races are not at the top of his list in terms of targets, it has been surprising to see him yet to contest a sprint at both the Santos Tour Down Under and now the Tour of Qatar too. Peaking for 2015’s Le Tour de France will be the goal; expect the usual battle with ‘Mr.Consistent’ Peter Sagan to play out there once again.

French hopes of taking stage wins here were high with the participation of FDJ’s Arnaud Démare and Cofidis’ Nacer Bouhanni (and his ‘yet to click’ lead-out train.) Finishing Stage 1 in third appeared to be a good indicator for French Champion Démare, but he would only finish in the top ten once again in Qatar. His compatriot Bouhanni fared similarly in the windswept race, posting his highest placing (3rd) in the relatively simple criterium on Stage 6. Cofidis’ issues with creating an efficient lead-out train, in order to deliver Bouhanni into race winning positions, are being monitored closely by the press. Though many would suggest Qatar was a predominantly negative experience for Bouhanni and his team, his lack of form  is more likely a product of difficult conditions before reaching the finish however. The young Frenchmen needs not to worry much about creating the perfect team in order to win though; his impressive talent to surf wheels in a hectic finish has won him Grand Tour victories in the absence of a well drilled team already.

Nacer-Bouhanni-Qatar-2015

Nacer Bouhanni

Arnaud-Démare-Qatar-2015

Arnaud Démare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has not been a sparkling start to Lars Boom’s move to Astana since leaving the now defunct Team Belkin and Qatar failed to offer any contrast to this. Having suffered like a dog with sickness and echelons, the commaisaires would later decided his efforts to stay with the diminishing peloton on Stage 5 involved seeking shelter behind cars. Boom was subsequently disqualified from the race and is yet to show much form ahead of a testing Classics campaign.

Lars-Boom-Qatar-2015

Lars Boom