Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 5

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 3


As highlighted in yesterday’s preview, Nathan Haas was earmarked as a rider most likely to benefit from a tough finale and heavily reduced numbers heading into the finish, thus it was of little surprise to see him take a much deserved win in the end. Stage 3 is a 179.5km route from the German University of Technology to Wadi Dayqah Dam, featuring plenty of rolling terrain, with the majority of the focus upon the final few kilometres which culminate in an uphill dash to the line.

Tour of Oman 2018 - Stage 3


Greg Van Avermaet was a key protagonist during Stage 2 and there is no doubt that many would have backed the BMC rider to take the win from the reduced lead group, but the Belgian was well beaten by Haas unexpectedly. Regardless, today is another well suited opportunity to pursue victory and Avermaet is bound to find himself the favourite yet again. If he can stay in the lead group and get a clear run to the line, then it shall be a huge ask to deny the Belgian classics specialist for a second consecutive day.

Nathan Haas is now an interesting prospect in the contest for the overall victory and may emerge as a tough rider to relinquish his ownership of the leader’s jersey. If he so wishes, he can now look to ride defensively and even lean upon his rivals to chase down those who are considered a threat to everyone hoping to win 2018’s Tour of Oman. This is another day which plays to his strengths, and given his current form, he should not be discounted from doubling up here on Stage 3.

Søren Kragh Andersen was unfortunate enough to be snarled up by two separate accidents yesterday, the last of which was only 15km from the finish, meaning he waved goodbye to any chance of contesting the sprint. He does not seem to have been affected by these crashes though and shall be extremely motivated to seek redemption of sorts by working hard for the win here. If he does manage to make the cut, he could be the fastest man present and would surely lead the charge to the line home with ease.

Fabio Felline performed well yesterday, showcasing the talent we had seen little of during a disastrous 2017 season previously. The Italian rider is pleased with his return to action thus far, now sensing some semblance of form and eager to find himself atop the podium again soon. He is a tactically astute rider who often reads the race better than most from a breakaway or small bunch, meaning one well timed attack on the final slopes could be enough for Felline to take the win.

Others to consider are Magnus CortAlexander KristoffAlexey LutsenkoDries Devenyns and Giovanni Visconti.


1st Søren Kragh Andersen 2nd Greg Van Avermaet 3rd Fabio Felline

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 5

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 2


French rider Bryan Coquard took a surprise victory on the opening day of this year’s Tour of Oman, but with plenty of climbing and an uphill finish on Stage 2, the sprinters will have to work hard to fight for another bunch kick. The day’s ride from Sultan Qaboos University to Al Bustan totals 167km and features four categorised climbs along the way; the last of which appears around 5km from the finish. It is the wind which is likely to prove most decisive here, previously dictating whether an elite group forms under intense strain or a block headwind keeps the bunch together for a reduced sprint, either way it will prove influential once again. The final kilometres are bound to be hectic if the race begins to fracture, as riders attempt to calculate their best chances of winning, from either a late move or reduced bunch kick.

Tour of Oman 2018 - Stage 2


Fabio Felline fits this stage particularly well, and if already possessing decent form as believed, then he  will have several options as to how best he can approach the day with eyes on the win. Strong enough to join the breakaway if required, or fast enough to dominate a sprint of likely protagonists, Felline will have a tough time choosing which approach is best. Regardless, days tailored to his strengths like this are not that frequent throughout the season and there is no doubt he shall aim to make the most of it.

Greg Van Avermaet is gearing up for another big push at the Spring classics, which means testing the waters at some point during these early season forays into potential race winning form. The Belgian icon suits this day, but is another who could benefit equally from being part of a late move or keeping his powder dry for a small group sprinting to the line. We have seen how tough he is to beat for several seasons now when on top form, and even if he is only nearing this, he could emerge as the dominant force in the final moments of Stage 2.

Søren Kragh Andersen will favour this terrain and has previously secured a stage win at this race, hinting at what his condition is likely to be once again this year. One of the strongest riders here in a head to head charge to the line, the Dane will want to be ditched by plenty of other riders on the final climb of the day and he is bound to find allies hard to come by as a result. A strong team performance here will do him wonders, and if he can make the cut, then the sprint finish could be made to look a breeze by the youngster.

Nathan Haas is a rider the bunch would be foolish to allow an advantage late in the day, as on a course which plays to his strengths, he could prove extremely to difficult to pull back before the line. Though he did not manage to reach his ambitions at the Tour Down Under, he was certainly one of the strongest riders there and he will have carried this across to Oman with hopes of converting it into victory on this occasion. If the wind can do him a favour and thin the ranks out, Haas is a contender likely to benefit well  from it.

If the race does remain together for the most part, whether due to strong team management or a block headwind, the sprinters who are most capable of staying in touch to take the win are Nacer BouhanniGiacomo Nizzolo and Bryan Coquard.


1st Fabio Felline 2nd Søren Kragh Andersen 3rd Giacomo Nizzolo

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 4


A relatively short 128.2km forms Stage 4 of 2018’s Tour Down Under, leaving Norwood and racing into the newly introduced finishing town of Uraidla after some serious climbing late on in the day. An interesting stage which may prove a closer fought affair than many first thought, the focus is still likely to be upon the traditionally decisive Wilunga Hill on Stage 5 to realistically crown this year’s winner overall. Expectations are that the puncheurs are likely to demonstrate a greater impact than the pure climbers late on here and a last gasp charge to the line could decide the honours.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Four 4 Preview


Nathan Haas has been working hard already this week, picking up bonus seconds whenever possible and doing his utmost to steer clear of trouble by utilising his Katusha Alpecin teammates perfectly as protection. Additionally, there is enough talent around him to suggest he shall not be left alone during the crucial moments at the end of the day, potentially allowing him to lean on rivals to chase down his teammates in order to counter attack for the victory. With a quick turn of pace, Haas could capitalise from a reduced bunch kick and seize control of the race ahead of the pivotal penultimate day.

Richie Porte is the best climber at the race, but today will be more about staying with the pack and avoiding any significant time losses to major rivals. As ever, his goal is to produce another barn-storming ride up Wilunga Hill, but he will not refuse the opportunity to take the win today if it should arise. Entering Stage 5 as race leader would make Porte’s chances of overall victory even greater, as with less impetus to break the race up, he could simply sit on the wheels all day.

Jay McCarthy often finishes powerfully on stages such as these, and with such a strong team to support him, there is a great chance of him scoring the win on Stage 4. As one of the few contenders today who has already shown good form in 2018, his performance at the National Road Race Championships suggested he is already riding well and would be a threatening rider to allow a free ticket right into the final kilometre.

Diego Ulissi did not perform as strongly as anticipated yesterday, though still deserves a serious mention here on favourable terrain once again for the Italian. Though the last climb is a great springboard to launch his attack upon, the downhill run into town is not favourable really, but his capabilities in a reduced sprint could still deliver him victory if riding smart on the day.

A strong field of further candidates all have the potential to win in Uraidla: Rui CostaEnric MasPeter SaganTom Jelte-SlagterDaryl Impey and Peter Kennaugh.


1st Nathan Haas 2nd Jay McCarthy 3rd Richie Porte

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Six 6 Preview

Rapido Guide – Tour Down Under 2018 – Stage 2


Today’s finale at Stirling is a familiar fixture in the design of each edition of the Tour Down Under, making its ninth appearance since 2009 and setting the scene for another uphill battle to the finish line. The stage totals 148.6km from its start in Unley and rolls throughout the day, concluding at Stirling, though the peloton will actually pass the finish line four times in total. It is generally considered that the pure sprinters shall struggle to perform by the time we see the final lap sign appear, instead favouring those riders capable of powerful uphill bursts over this drag to the line.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage Two 2 Preview


Peter Sagan has started the season in brilliant form once again and is bound to prove unbeatable if given the go ahead to pursue the win in Stirling; team orders being upon which his chances hinge. A generous rider and team player, the world champion may instead choose to sacrifice his efforts for his fellow riders today, seeking to play a big part in the day’s outcome. He has done precisely this on this stage finish before, and with a strong team of punchy riders beside him, there are plenty of options on offer for Bora Hansgrohe on Stage 2.

Diego Ulissi is long established as a rider who flourishes on these drags to the finish line and expectation will be that the Italian shall be a contender once again here in Stirling. His support during the concluding laps of the day looks capable of keeping him fresh and well positioned when it matters most, meaning a podium is likely to be their target at the very least on Stage 2. Ulissi has a great ability to identify the best moment to sprint for the line, and with it being so early in the season, he might just catch everyone else napping.

Nikias Arndt enjoys these finales too, though is an unknown quantity right now and usually only performs best when the day has proven long or attritional at least. Regardless, he is the best option for Team Sunweb and will likely view this as a good opportunity to test the waters of 2018 at least.

Jay McCarthy will be eager to seize the chance of leadership if Sagan is happy to support the native rider, McCarthy previously performing well at his home race on these testing finishes. With such a strong group around him featuring Sagan, Peter Kennaugh, Daniel Oss and Maciej Bodnar; their is no reason to think he will be outmuscled late on. With compatriot Caleb Ewan misjudging yesterday’s finale, McCarthy could be the rider who delivers Australia’s first win at Tour Down Under 2018.

Nathan Haas could be keeping his powder dry until later in the week, but there is enough here in terms of favourable terrain, in order to lure him out into gaining further seconds on the general classification.

Davide Cimolai often performs best when given a slight drag to contest his sprint upon and is certainly flying under the radar in comparison to other specialists here. If he can find himself on the wheel of one of the major names in the final kilometre, he has the skills to spring a surprise.

Plenty of others are capable of taking a top ten placing here: Rohan DennisSimon ClarkeRui CostaAndré Greipel, Caleb Ewan and Phil Bauhaus.


1st Diego Ulissi 2nd Jay McCarthy 3rd Davide Cimolai

Giro d'Italia 2017 Logo

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 6 Preview


Fernando Gaviria met the expectations of Spokenforks yesterday, bursting through the pack to take his second stage win of this year’s Giro d’Italia and support what is becoming a serious claim to the maglia ciclamino. Stage 6 looks to be an opportunity to let the breakaway seize the initiative, allowing the peloton a simpler day in the saddle, but the sprinters will be eager to push onwards if they sense there is a win up for grabs. The 217km route from Reggio Calabria to Terme Luigiane features two categorised climbs, a large flat section of almost 80km and a final salvo of hills which crescendo with a 10% ramp up to the finish line. With many teams happy to send riders up the road in hope of joining the day’s breakaway, the opening kilometres are expected to be extremely fast, taking a while for a successful move to finally get away.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 6 Preview


Omar Fraile enjoyed a great Tour of Yorkshire, working impressively for his Team Dimension Data leader Serge Pauwels, bossing the pack of contenders on the final stage to ensure his teammate took the overall win and himself second place on the general classification. He has had a relatively low profile thus far, hopefully due to keeping his powder dry in hope of performing well on a stage such as this, utilising the late rolling terrain and final rise to the line as a springboard to victory.

Enrico Battaglin has been mixing it up in the sprints during this first week of racing, yet the Italian rider has a greater talent for making the most of these days built for the breakaway. Battaglin has the strength to work hard as part of a small group, while his prowess against a gradient should make him a standout contender if he arrives into the final kilometres in a race winning position.

Nathan Haas will be another Team Dimension Data rider tasked with animating the day’s racing, performing strongly during the Spring and coping well with the stresses of crosswinds during the first few stages. Equally adept at winning solo or from a reduced bunch, Haas will look to accelerate hard in the closing meters, opening up a gap to his rivals which will be difficult to pull back if allowed to grow to greatly.

José Gonçalves is a familiar face amongst the breakaways throughout the season and could well be asked to join the day’s moves once again by Team Katusha – Alpecin. The stage itself might not prove tough enough to really draw the best showing from the Portuguese rider, while having since moved from Caja Rural last year, he is unlikely to enjoy the same freedom he was previously afforded at grand tours to test himself.

Dario Cataldo will be a potential favourite for Astana to try and secure stage honours today, aiming to place him amongst the race deciding move with the expectation of having him see off any remaining rivals with his strong sprinting capabilities. If the Italian rider does manage to make all the right moves, it will be interesting to see how well he copes with the final 10% gradient in the closing kilometre.

Those who have all showed previous form on similar grand tour stages as today include Carlos Verona, Giulio Ciccone, Chad Haga and Alberto Losada.


1st Omar Fraile 2nd Dario Cataldo 3rd Enrico Battaglin

Strade Bianche 2017 Preview

Strade Bianche – Preview 2017


Though a relatively new addition to the early season calendar, Italy’s Strade Bianche has already cemented itself as part of the classics landscape which builds towards the likes of Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen later in the Spring. The iconic white roads and rolling terrain are contrasting to the challenges of Belgium, Northern France and the Ardennes, attracting a unique blend of competitors seeking to add their name to the list of victors at a race growing in prestige. The course totals 175km from Siena and back, returning once again to familiar roads in the latter stages, utilising gravel tracks and persistent changes in gradient to really make this an attritional affair. Expectation is that a reduced group will contest the final kilometres in the wake of a strong selection process, often making tactical nous as crucial as brute strength as the final climb is tackled.

Strade Bianche 2017 Preview


Peter Sagan once again appears to be riding in indomitable form at the start of the classics season and will be viewed by many as the man to beat as the race returns to Siena for the finale. His victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and second place to Greg Van Avermaet at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad have demonstrated his monstrous ability to simply surge across to anything resembling a race winning move. Sagan has previously finished second place on two occasions at Strade Bianche and will no doubt be looking to call upon his current form to convert his runner-up spots into a belated victory.

Greg Van Avermaet could return again to dampen Sagan’s hopes of victory at a minor classic, the Belgian rider having recovered well from an injury at the end of last year with great success. His history at this race is particularly encouraging, having been unlucky to miss the win here on a few occasions already. A strong support team will certainly improve his chances, hoping to shelter him from any unnecessary efforts, saving himself for what is likely to be a testing finish into town.

Zdenek Stybar really enjoys this race and has made no secret of his ambitions to produce another leading performance here. His experience in cyclo-cross has certainly played a part in his previous successes at Strade Bianche, calling upon his great bike handling abilities to navigate the gravel roads safely. He performs well on these repeated uphill accelerations, possesses great endurance and his usually capable of summoning up a blistering sprint after such a gruelling affair.

Fabio Felline should be considered a danger to the bigger name riders with eyes upon Strade Bianchethe Italian arrives at this race off the back of an encouraging performance at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad which saw him finish fourth. His endurance capabilities have grown year after year, often demonstrating real grit and determination to stay in contact with elite groups, hoping to pounce upon victory with his impressive turn of speed. If there is one rider likely to benefit from the favourites eyeballing one another too long, it could be Felline who steals the show.

Diego Rosa and Michal Kwiatkowski are bound to be the riders which Team Sky look upon as their greatest hopes in a race they are not expected to be targeting with great intent. The former caught the eye with his performance during 2015’s edition while riding for Astana and evidently performs competitively on these gravel roads when offered the chance. Former world champion Kwiatkowski won this race in 2014 and might be tempted to repeat his exploits of three years ago after a good performance at Volta ao Algarve already this season.

Other contenders who could well cause a stir are Jasper StuyvenBen HermansNathan HaasDaniel OssGianluca BrambillaGianni Moscon, Moreno MoserGiovanni Visconti and Tiesj Benoot.


1st Fabio Felline 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Zdenek Stybar