Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

Last chance saloon. Crunch time. The final push. Whatever you want to call it, this is one of the few remaining opportunities to genuinely have an impact upon the general classification before the individual time trial. Featuring Col d’AspinCol du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque within the day’s six total ascents, we can expect serious fireworks if one of the big name contenders chooses to light the touchpaper.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 19 Race Preview

Contenders

Primož Roglič will be aware that a strong performance today will set him up well for an incredible podium finish when the race reaches Paris. Strong in the time trial as well, a late attack could create a sufficient cushion from his rivals tomorrow and secure a stunning result for the former ski jumper.

Dan Martin has really been enjoying some brilliant form at this year’s race and shall fancy his chances of turning in another eye catching show on this epic stage. With a team strong enough to set him up for the stage win, the Irishman has a great chance of victory today.

Romain Bardet would need to muster something spectacular if he is to cause a stir today, as his showing at 2018’s Tour de France has been a disappointing affair. However, if he is to find glory with one perfect day of riding, then today is certainly that opportunity. An HC climb and tricky descent to end the day, Bardet could still salvage something from his home tour.

Nairo Quintana can still rise up the general classification today, though will struggle to find the same level of freedom which he possessed last week when takeing a stage win. Regardless, even though the Colombian has entered into great form late in the race, he could still cause a degree of panic amongst the leading contenders.

Others to consider are Adam YatesBauke MollemaMikel Nieve and Rafal Majka.

Outcome:

1st Dan Martin 2nd Romain Bardet 3rd Adam Yates

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Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

A relatively simple Stage 13 takes the riders from Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of yesterday’s epic Alpe d’Huez finale, to Valence some 169.5km later. With the top line of sprinters having seen its ranks devastated (Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, Dylan Groenewegen and Fernando Gaviria now all absent from the race) it will be more difficult to control the breakaway for the originally anticipated sprint finish. With so many absentees, it is a great chance for the lesser known quick men to place themselves onto the podium, though such diminished numbers could prove irresistible for riders to chance their luck in the day’s move instead. The run into Valence is extremely technical, where a dominant leadout train could snap the bunch in two, depending on their ability to smoothly navigate the roundabouts and turns.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 13 Race Preview

Contenders:

Peter Sagan must already feel as if another green jersey victory in Paris is assured, his lead upon the contest as strong as ever, with many of his potential rivals having now left the race. At the very least we can expect to see the world champion take a podium place, though the win is certainly possible, depending on his condition off the back of yesterday’s tough stage.

Arnaud Démare possesses a full team, one which is there entirely for him and will be extremely confident of ensuring the day ends with a sprint victory for himself. This is a golden opportunity to make their presence here worthwhile, and having only looked second best in the leadouts to masterminds Quick Step, Démare could be the man to beat.

Christophe Laporte has seen the pack thinned down sufficiently for him to begin considering himself a threat upon the stage honours. A consistent rider who perhaps only requires better support to really succeed, he can place himself in the shop window today if chasing home the bigger name riders.

Alexander Kristoff will not have an entire team to help him due to their interest in protecting Dan Martin, but the Norwegian hard man is used to fending for himself. Given that the final kilometres are likely to be a messy affair, this should prove beneficial for him and certainly improve his odds of challenging for the win.

John Degenkolb is no stranger to bunch sprints, though given his time away due to injury and increased focus upon the classics, it is easy to forget he has 10 Vuelta a España victories for a good reason. Having perfectly executed his plan upon the cobblestones during the opening week, confidence will be high and his form is more than enough evidence to argue for greater support from his teammates in guaranteeing a sprint finish in Valence.

Outcome:

1st Arnaud Démare 2nd John Degenkolb 3rd Alexander Kristoff

Milan - Sanremo 2018 Race Preview

Rapido Guide: Milano – Sanremo 2018

Course:

Not much to shout about in regards to 2018’s course for Milano – Sanremo, as it is an identical affair to last year’s, maintaining its reputation as one of the least tinkered with monuments in recent seasons. Though clocking in at 291km of racing (300km if you include the neutral zone), it will once again be a day which is unlikely to see any noteworthy action before the peloton as easily passed the 200km marker. The triumvirate of Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta will provide the day’s contenders with the first real indication as to whether their legs feel favourable or not with less than 60km remaining. After this comes the historic double of the Cipressa and the Poggio, the descent off the latter reaching level ground once again with only a little over 2km of racing to go. Though we may have to wait late in the day to see it, with so few opportunities to break the race apart, there should be another great curtain raising battle to this year’s monuments at Milano – Sanremo.

Milan - Sanremo 2018 Race Preview

Contenders:

Peter Sagan enters most of the calendar’s one day races as the favourite, though does not possess the best record in the classics or monuments when considering how long he has been the sport’s greatest active rider. He came close to taking the win last year and has already stated that he will approach things differently this time in pursuit of the win, perhaps choosing to keep his powder dry and allow others to really push the tempo. Whatever the plan is, there is no doubt he shall be a major protagonist in the final decisive kilometres, where it is tough to imagine him losing if part of any group which turns the last corner onto the Via Roma.

Arnaud Démare won this race in surprising fashion a couple of years ago, but given his recent form, it would be far less of a shock to win it a second time than the first. He copes well with this type of arduous racing and is one of the few who can still turn in close to his best sprint after well over 250km of racing. The team at his disposal is extremely strong in support of the French national champion, focused almost entirely upon controlling the race and manoeuvering Démare into a race winning position. Despite having already won here, as a not particularly flashy rider, it is easy to overlook his talents; his rivals would be foolish to do the same.

Sonny Colbrelli has maintained a great record at Milano – Sanremo over the years and 2018 looks to be one of his best build ups to the big day of all. His recent victory upon Hatta Dam at the Dubai Tour proved his great strength when roads head skywards, which will no doubt be useful late in the day here. He would do best to allow other bigger names to close down the attacks when necessary, as previous years have seen the Italian use up too much energy before the finish line is in sight.

Michal Kwiatkowski is the defending champion and will feel relaxed heading into the day, with nothing to prove and no real pressure to repeat his win at a notoriously tough to predict monument. Regardless, he will be a likely face amongst those hoping to split the race apart and avoid a significant bunch sprint deciding the winner this year. This no doubt that means attacking hard over the Poggio, which given his success last year, will be interesting to see who reacts first to such a potentially dangerous move.

Elia Viviani is the purest sprinter with the most realistic chance of surviving the final quarter of racing with a potent turn of pace still at his disposal. Having enjoyed a brilliant start to life at Quick Step, the Italian ace is looking in sparkling form and more confident than ever in his abilities to reach the top of the sport. With a talented selection of teammates by his side, Viviani shall be well protected, allowing him to focus on exiting the final turn of the day in a race winning position.

Others to watch for are Alexander Kristoff, Caleb Ewan, Julian AlaphilppeMatteo Trentin and Magnus Cort Nielsen.

Outcome:

1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Sonny Colbrelli

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 5

Rapido Guide – Tour of Oman 2018 – Stage 2

Course:

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

Contenders:

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.

Outcome:

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 1

Course:

A familiarly styled course to many which have opened the Tour Down Under in recent years, Stage 1 takes the riders on a 145km jaunt from Port Adelaide to Lyndoch, featuring a smattering of rolling terrain early in the day on a stage anticipated to finish in a bunch sprint. The sole recognised ascent of the day is the typically Antipodean titled Humbug Scrub, a 6.3 km rise which average a gradient of 4%, appearing just before the 40km marker. With little to upset the sprinters’ teams beyond Humbug Scrub on Stage 1, it should simply be a case of sitting back and watching the fist serious duel amongst the sprinters in 2018.

Tour Down Under - 2018 - Stage One 1 Preview

Contenders:

Caleb Ewan has cemented his place as one of the fastest riders in the bunch since breaking through a couple of seasons ago and could leave his native race with a good haul of stage wins this week. He has previously taken two stage finishes of the Tour Down Under in Lyndoch, so evidently finds this finale to be to his liking for one reason or another. He might not feel that his best leadout team his here to support him, but with his blistering turn of pace, the likelihood is that Ewan shall make it a hatrick of wins here.

Elia Viviani appears to be in strong form since making his off-season move to Quick Step and could emerge as the rider who pushes Ewan most for the day’s honours. Another without a perfect set of riders to back him, he will need to rely upon his guile and nous in order to find the best wheel to follow late in the day, seeking to produce a late charge to the line which edges out his Australian rival.

André Greipel often lays down a decent marker of early season form at the Tour Down Under and will be focused on repeating this once again in 2018. Not as potent over short distances as his rivals mentioned above, the German powerhouse is still a tough man to catch once he gets up to speed however and will be expected to podium on Stage 1. His greatest advantage is the leadout train which Lotto Soudal have equipped him with in Australia and the power it possesses to diminish any advantages held over the ‘Gorilla’ by Ewan or Viviani; a perfect performance from his team could make Greipel impossible to beat.

Sam Bennett should be the focus for Bora Hansgroe in the sprints this week, but recent illness has meant Peter Sagan stepped into the breach for the People’s Choice Classic a few days ago, which he promptly won due to being, well, Peter Sagan. The three time world champion looks likely to attempt the same today, but with much faster rivals eagerly eyeing up this opening stage, only another brilliant showing from his teammates will manage to snatch a second unexpected sprint victory for Sagan in a week.

Phil Bauhaus became a familiar name in the top ten placings at WorldTour races last season and the expectation will be that he pushes on once again in 2018, so could prove a danger throughout the racing at the Tour Down Under. Chris Lawless certainly has the talent to podium at the very least here, though is somewhat hamstrung by a relatively limited Team Sky leadout train, in regards to both experience and organisation

Outcome:

1st Caleb Ewan 2nd Elia Viviani 3rd André Greipel

Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 9 Preview

Course:

Those wishing to sustain a serious campaign upon the general classification will need to ignite their ambitions with serious determination on Stage 9’s gruelling course. Starting in Nantua, the day begins immediately uphill and completes two categorised climbs within the first 11km of racing. A total of 181.5km will be traversed en route to Chambéry and a brutal trio of HC climbs will provide the first true insight as to who is struggling to find their best in the mountains this year.

First of the three major ascents to be ridden is the HC Col de la Biche, a 10.5km long climb which sustains a draining 9% average gradient, though features steeper sections along the way. The subsequent descent offers no true recovery opportunity, leading immediately to the base of the HC Grand Colombier, a historic feature of Le Tour de France for many years, the riders will be familiar with its average gradient of 9.9% and total 8.5km distance. A rapid descent then places the bunch back down into the valley, taking in the day’s intermediate sprint and the Category 4 Côte de Jongieux, before the showdown on the day’s concluding climb.

Mont du Chat is a particularly brutal HC challenge, lasting for 8.7km and tasking the peloton with ascending a mind numbing average gradient of 10.3%; ramps of 15% are also present on the way to the summit. There is no chance of hiding poor form on Stage 9 after such attritional climbing, as even the descent from the final climb of the day is an equalling gruelling affair, with tight hairpin bends being negotiated through dense tree lines. The frontrunners at the end of it all will have approximately 14km to stay at the head of affairs in order to contest the win in Chambéry at the end of the day.


Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 9 Preview

Contenders:

Romain Bardet knows that he will have to make these outrageously tough days in the mountains count for something early on at this year’s Tour de France, as having to close any substantial lead which Chris Froome may establish heading into the first rest day will be the start of a huge challenge. There is a feeling amongst the riders that Froome is perhaps not as strong as expected in this opening week, hoping instead to peak for the final run of Pyrenean stages instead. This should be an opportunity too great to resist if true and Romain Bardet is the best equipped rider to take advantage of it. He enjoys these steep climbs, but most crucially, is not afraid of descending at eye watering speeds in pursuit of victory. If he attacks over the top of the Mont du Chat, then he could end up soloing all the way to victory in Chambéry.

Dan Martin will expect to be one of the fastest riders present in an elite group which forms as a result of the day’s final climb. Without the eternal thorn in the Irishman’s side at the race now (Alejandro Valverde), he can focus on saving himself for the final run into the finish line, where a strong sprinting performance from him is unlikely to be matched by those who have also made the cut. However, that in itself is the greatest issue for Martin, as an explosive race may jettison him before the final ascent due to the ferocity of the general classification battle.

Fabio Aru cannot be ignored on a stage like today’s, the reigning Italian road race champion having a real penchant for these horrendously steep climbs and could choose to combine them with his aggressive style of racing in order to put immense pressure on the likes of Chris Froome and Richie Porte. He seems the one most likely to not stick to the generally agreed race plan amongst the major names, potentially going on the offensive earlier than many anticipate to see who is most interested in following.

Thibaut Pinot should prove an enthusiastic presence on Stage 9, as the Frenchman will need a strong showing if he is to have a realistic chance of obtaining the polka dot jersey or a stage win at this year’s race. Having arrived off the back of a tough Giro d’Italia, his form has perhaps dipped, though Pinot has never raced particularly strongly in the opening uphill stages of Le Tour de France in recent years. If he does not prove to be overly fatigued, then this should arrive at the ideal time for him to stretch his legs and push on for a jersey and stage double.

Rigoberto Uran has the turn of pace required to win from a small group after the strains and stresses of Stage 9, but needs to be on his toes in order to ensure he manages to join the race winning move. Surprisingly quiet during yesterday’s infinite exchanges and skirmishes to shape the breakaway, Uran has perhaps chosen to keep his powder dry especially for today instead. He is no longer the climber which once delivered him podium placings at the Giro d’Italia, though is capable of producing his best when a chance like this appears on his radar. The tactic for Uran shall be to join the right move, conserve as much energy as possible and look to regroup over the Mont du Chat and finish his rivals off in a sprint to the line.

Chris Froome needs to put down a marker soon, as rumblings persist that he is not quite on his best form right now. There shall be no need for him to be the aggressor today, allowing him to challenge his rivals to light the race up if the wish to take the maillot jaune from upon his shoulders. However, we have seen previously that he likes to prove a point at the earliest opportunity possible, meaning it would come as no surprise to see him attack on the final climb in order to contend for the stage win.

Richie Porte and BMC are almost anxious at the prospect of not being able to land a blow on Chris Froome already, despite there being very few opportunities to achieve precisely that in the opening week. Perhaps not as strong as expected entering the race, Porte has the credentials to challenge for the win and cause a stir amongst the general classification, but needs to ride clever to achieve this. A great time trial rider, he should know how to pace his efforts through the day’s major climbs, before once again calling upon these talents to solo his way to victory in the final 14km of flat terrain.

Others worth considering are Pierre RollandPrimoz RoglicJarlinson Pantano  and Louis Meintjes.

Outcome:

1st Romain Bardet 2nd Fabio Aru 3rd Chris Froome