Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 18 Race Preview

Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

With little chance to reflect on the first race day of this year’s Tour de France, the peloton are immediately directed into the first mountainous campaign, where anyone who relaxed a little too much yesterday will find nowhere to hide once the pressure ratchets up. Featuring five categorised climbs during its 158.5km stretch from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, it will be a shock to the system for many, including the HC Montée du plateau des Gliéres (featuring over a kilometre of gravel) and finishing with the challenging Col de la Colombière. A chance for favourites to recoup earlier loses? Glory for the breakaway? Stage 10 is sure to be an explosive opening foray amongst the clouds.

Le Tour de France 2018 Stage 10 Race Preview

Contenders:

Dan Martin has showcased impressive form, despite misfortune which has seen him lose time, though this does mean he shall be eager to begin reducing his deficit as soon as possible. The Irishman will be wanting to join any move which looks to have the potential of staying away until the line, where he can remind people of his surprisingly effective sprinting abilities. If the race is still relatively together heading into the foot of the Col de la Colombière, he is a favourite for matching the big name climbers, before then leapfrogging them over the summit and attacking to victory.

Primož Roglič continues to progress as a general classification rider, with today’s offering fitting his diesel engine abilities and impressive descending talents. Having already lost a fair amount of time to the overall favourites, he could be gifted a generous amount of freedom by the peloton, which he shall not hesitate to make the most of. If he happens to place himself within the day’s decisive move, he is capable of winning a sprint after a gruelling stage like this, though would surely prefer to go solo.

Alejandro Valverde is the favourite of many for Stage 10, suiting the mix of steep gradients and downhill sections, while being essentially unbeatable in a sprint at the end of it all. Despite being 38 years old, the veteran rider is producing the level of form which has seen him dominate his favoured terrain for almost ten years now. A marked man, Valverde will need to box clever or simply be on blistering form to steal the win today, with his old tricks raising few eyebrows anymore.

Rigoberto Uran will begin to take his chances to gain lost time if he is to stand much chance of placing his general classification ambitions back on track. Undoubtedly enjoying something akin to a renaissance in his career, the Colombian is in great shape for Le Tour and will need to remind his rivals of this as soon as possible. If the bunch is still together approaching the final climb, he is one of the big names who will look to escape late in the day, while knowing only Alejandro Valverde can match him in a drag race to the line.

Outcome:

1st Primož Roglič 2nd Rigoberto Uran 3rd Dan Martin

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La Vuelta a España 2017 - Stage Preview

La Vuelta a España 2017 – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

After the first rest day, the peloton begin another tough week of racing with a stage which looks to finish with a crescendo once again. The 164.8km day begins in Caravaca Ano Jubila 2017 and concludes at Elpozo Alimentacion, with the final climb being firmly in the spotlight. More than half of the day’s racing is predominantly featureless, taking over 120km to reach the first of two climbs on Stage 10, both of which are tackled in quick succession. Starting with the Category 3 Alto del Morron de Totana, a 5.7 km climb which averages 5.7% gradient and rise to the point of merging with day’s final climb. The Category Collado Bermejo has a steeper average gradient of 6.5% and is also longer at 7.7 km in total. This brace of climbs in such a short period can be seen as a single longer ascent, no doubt forming the key part of how today’s race will be won.

La Vuelta a España 2017 - Stage 10 Preview

Contenders:

Omar Fraile appears to be on the rise once again and should prove to be a real danger on terrain which plays to his strengths well. Having been anonymous up until now, this shall be a perfect opportunity to catch his rivals napping and aim to surprise them with his return to form. The rest day shall have been a great aid to Fraile, allowing him to start Stage 10 refreshed and poised to follow the key moves when it matters.

Julian Alaphilippe is a diverse rider who is capable of featuring in a broadly contrasting array of stages and shall view today’s challenge with part of that spectrum. He has appeared strong for sometime at the race and deservedly took a stage victory at last, but will not simply wish to stop pushing for another win when already. His prominence might make it hard for him to get away from the other favourites, but given his current form, it could simply prove too difficult for others to stop him.

Luis Leon Sanchez enjoys these days and will be at the forefront of any breakaway which hopes to get a jump on some of the bigger favourites on Stage 10. With gradients which do not get too steep, Sanchez is likely to feature today and has been active enough thus far to demonstrate why he is a serious candidate. He will need to be alert to the moves, as it will be much harder for him to win from a larger group on the day, aiming to solo away from a small break once they begin climbing.

Bob Jungels certainly has the raw power to monster his way up the two climbs on Stage 10, a rider who ticks all the boxes, yet will still be considered a surprise if managing to win. His climbing capabilities have really grown in the last couple of seasons and it is easy for them to become overshadowed by his time trialing prowess and commitment to working for his teammates earlier in mountain stages. Jungels cannot be gifted much of a time advantage on the slopes, as he has often proven to be incredibly hard to reel back in and is certainly skilled enough to descend aggressively to maintain a winning margin.

Giovanni Visconti might be allowed the freedom to join the fray on Stage 10, though he does have greater duties expected of him during this coming week of racing and his team could choose to conserve his energy for protecting Vincenzo Nibali. If given the go ahead to attack today, then Visconti will look upon the tail end of the stage with glee, appearing almost designed by the man himself. There are question marks hanging over his form, especially given the added uncertainty when exiting a rest day, but he will be a threat if yesterday’s recovery has helped him.

Others to watch for are Darwin AtapumaLachlan MortonSerge PauwelsThomas De Gendt and Alessandro De Marchi.

Outcome:

1st Omar Fraile 2nd Luis Leon Sanchez 3rd Giovanni Visconti

Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

The sprinters shall once agin return to centre stage after the rest day, taking up the spotlight on the road from Périgueux to Bergerac, hoping to battle it out at top speed for the honours some 178km later in the day. With little to concern the fast men and their leadout trains in regards to gradients, only a couple of Category 4 ascents punctuate the day’s racing en route to Bergerac; the Côte de Domme and Côte du Buisson-de-Cadouin. With little to fret over during these ascents, the focus shall remain upon the final kilometres intended to set the day up for a brilliant exhibition of speed and skill. The finale could play into the hands of a strong leadout as a result of late road furniture, though the run to the line should see a high speed contest crown the day’s winner, there are two late 90 degree bends to negotiate before the finishing straight.


Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 10 Preview

Contenders:

Marcel Kittel has appeared imperious during Le Tour de France up until now, often managing to secure stage honours despite a less than ideal leadout by his teammates. He has recently suffered the loss of a key man in the shape of Matteo Trentin, though the depth of talent is so great at Quick-Step, it does suggest that Kittel shall still be able to perform at his best regardless. He has survived the gruelling mountain stages well in the last couple of days and will be eager to return to winning ways on Stage 10 in pursuit of the green jersey.

André Greipel might not be the dominant force he once was, but there is a general sense that he shall leave 2017’s Tour de France with at least once victory to his name. Often only coming to the fore once the attritional nature of the race has begun to take its toll, the German great should start to see his chances of a victory improve as a result of the recent barrage of ascents. His leadout train has been one of the best so far, and now with the absence of Arnaud Démare and reduced firepower of Marcel Kittel, his hopes of taking a win will  have improve dramatically.

Dylan Groenewegen is seeking to take his place at the top table of sprinting during this year’s race, yet has not quite found himself pushing the established names close for a win. Despite the Dutchman’s immense physical prowess, he has still been left short by his teammates, often leaving him with too much work to do during the final kilometre of a stage. Regardless, the talent which he has is strong enough to succeed, so he will be hoping that the attritional nature of the race begins to bring stronger riders closer to his level during the second week.

Alexander Kristoff should be in the mix for the sprints during the race this year, though this opportunity might appear too early for the Norwegian to truly land a killer blow. Often relishing in the gruelling nature of a grand tour, Kristoff has previously performed well in the latter stages of major races, though has not truly showed enough to suggest this shall be the case in 2017. He is a canny rider despite this absence of form and it would be reckless to rule him out of contention when considering his talent for measuring his efforts perfectly on the way to victory.

Nacer Bouhanni should have a stage victory at his home grand tour by now, yet things have not managed to play out as intended for the passionate French cyclist. He is often unable to realistically match the big name sprinters, but now the fatigue is beginning to take its toll and others see teammates vanish from the race, Bouhanni should thrive in these more chaotic battles for the win. His acceleration is blistering to say the least, so on a technical and short stretch into the finish at Bergerac, the fiery Cofidis captain will fancy his chances.

Edvald Boasson Hagen has turned in a great shift for Team Dimension Data so far in the wake of Mark Cavendish’s forced retirement from the race during the opening week of racing. Though a rider who prefers tougher and more gruelling affairs, the skills of his leadout train has demonstrated their ability to launch the Norwegian hero into contention during this year’s race.

Outcome:

1st Nacer Bouhanni 2nd Marcel Kittel 3rd André Gripel

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-10

La Vuelta a España – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

Today’s stage is the last challenge before the first official rest day of this year’s La Vuelta a España, a short 146.6km ride from Valencia to Castellón which looks set to play straight into the hands of those with an eye on a breakaway victory. Originally penciled in as another opportunity for the sprinters to strut their stuff, this now looks set to change as a consequence of the high attrition rate having forced Nacer Bouhanni, Peter Sagan, Kris Boeckmans and Matteo Peluchhi all to abandon. As a consequence, this now makes it difficult to imagine who will offer up chasing interest beyond the likes of Giant-Alpecin and John Degenkolb in order to set this finale up for a sprint finish.

This shortest stage of La Vuelta acts as a stepping stone to Wednesday’s leviathan like Pyrenean challenge, today being a relatively simplistic affair which should see some teams already begin winding down ahead of tomorrow’s rest day. The Category 3 Puerto del Oronet comes as the first challenge of Stage 10, a 6km climb which maintains a steady gradient of 4.4%; ultimately reaching its summit a little after 30km have been completed.

From here the road momentarily drops downwards for ten kilometres or so, rises again somewhat for a little over 20km, after which point it descends once again and places the peloton on pancake flat roads by the 80km marker. Passing through Villareal and Castellón rapidly will conclude with the riders contesting the intermediate sprint after 121.3km have passed of Stage 10. This sprint toys with the hopes of the fast men still present at this race, as it immediately sends them skywards once completed, the Category 2 Alto del Desierto de la Palmas being a significant bump on the profile with less than 20km left to race en route to the finale in Castellón.

The 7km climb in question should not prove too testing for the likes of John Degenkolb and Caleb Ewan, though billed as an average gradient of 5.6%, the reality of the ascent is once which swings between as low as 3% to 7%. This steady and manageable climb is only interrupted by short-lived ramps of double-digit difficulty which come 2km from the summit, before then returning to 5% to the top. A fast and simple descent will favour the teams who wish to chase the break which is sure to still be up the road at this point. However, if everything comes back together in the final kilometres and sees sprint trains being formed, teams will have to be on their toes to navigate a tricky series of roundabouts and tight 90 degree turns which come as close as 600m from the line.

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-10

Contenders:

John Degenkolb is the clear favourite to win Stage 10 if it should happen to be decided by another bunch kick or smaller sprint. Several issues limit his chances however, beginning with the expected lack of impetus to chase from the other teams in the peloton. Many have lost their sprinters (or lack one altogether) and will instead focus upon successfully placing a rider in the breakaway. Degenkolb will also not be as protected as he had hoped due to teammate Tom Dumoulin now leading the race overall, stealing a degree of team support away from him as a result. Even if the previous two problems are resolved, he still needs to make it over the Alto del Desierto de la Palmas within touching distance of the frontrunners and remain fresh enough to turn in a good sprint if it comes down to a drag race.

Tosh van der Sande offers a great option for Lotto-Soudal, he is evidently in great condition on the basis of his performances so far at La Vuelta a España and will be a danger man on Stage 10. He has all the skills required to survive life in a breakaway and his potent sprinting ability make him a favourite to dominate a reduced sprint finish.

Stephen Cummings is known for possessing a huge engine to push breakaways along or to establish a gap over the peloton after a late solo move. He has already displayed his strengths for such a tactic this year during Stage 14 of Le Tour de France and will look to repeat such a success once again today. Cummings joined the break on Stage 6 in this opening half of the race and appeared to be climbing brilliantly once again for a man known for his time trialing and track exploits. Though joining such a move once again could prove successful, he could be better off biding his time and making a move on the descent from the Alto del Desierto de la Palmas, utilising his power and strength to churn out the watts on the flat roads into Castellón.

Gianluca Brambilla is riding well currently, but has found stage success rather elusive so far at this race. The Italian is performing extremely strongly at the moment and even managed a top twenty placing on yesterdays gruelling finale which saw Tom Dumoulin take a surprise victory over Chris Froome. Brambilla is likely to seek a reduced bunch sprint given his turn of pace and will be a major threat amongst any group which comes to the line together to contest the win.

Daniel Navarro could prove to be a dark horse for the win on Stage 10, the Spanish Cofidis man having a great ability to slip off the nose of the peloton late on and solo or sprint to victory successfully. His performances so far have not been particularly noteworthy, but today could act as a great opportunity to change precisely that.

Adam Hansen is renowned for his brutish breakaway antics and could place himself within a move today with the hope of surging to the line on his own to take another grand tour stage win. It is possible to suggest that today is not long or tough enough for the Australian to truly flourish, but he remains a name to keep an eye on as the break forms, but especially so if everything is back together after the Alto del Desierto de la Palmas.

Julien Simon is a strong breakaway candidate to win Stage 10 given his blend of climbing and sprinting ability. So far at La Vuelta he has placed in the top ten on two occasions and is likely to step up to the challenge as a result of Cofidis losing their sprinting hopes as a consequence of Nacer Bouhanni abandoning. Simon may be swamped if a larger group comes to the line, but he is sure to be aware of this and could easily steal a march by making a solo move instead.

Sylvain Chavanel is a breakaway specialist and has been surprisingly quiet at La Vuelta so far, but today should appeal to him in order to remind people of his presence here. Though his climbing is not the strongest compared to others highlighted above, the Frenchman has a great gift for executing tactics to perfection in order to compensate for the gap in ability to his rivals and will lean upon his descending skills to haul himself back to the front of the race after the Alto del Desierto de la Palmas.

Jurgen Van Den Broeck has experienced an acutely anonymous season so far this year and it would be interesting to see him join the breakaway here on Stage 10. The Belgian rider needs to bring some successes to his Lotto-Soudal team and at least putting his name in the mix for stage honours would be an achievement based on this year’s performances so far.

Thomas De Gendt has a gift for sniffing out successful breakaway moves and it is surely a certainty to see his name in the composition of a group which is allowed to go free by the peloton. De Gendt is a strong climber and will be likely to attack his fellow escapees on the final climb with the hope of taking it all the way to the line on his own.

Alessandro De Marchi is yet another rider with a talent for joining the breakaways and he will be seeking to do precisely this once again today. This possibility of attacking today is compounded by his BMC team now being leaderless in the wake of Tejay Van Garderen’s abandonment last week after the horrendous crash which sent Kris Boeckmans to hospital in a medically induced coma.

Niki Terpstra has been a surprisingly prominent figure towards the front of the peloton as the intermediate climbing stages reach their finales and it seems certain that sooner or later the Dutchman will make a move for victory. He is another rider who, if he survives the final climb, will look to burst out of the pack once they have returned to the flat and time trial his way to the line alone.

Vicente Reynes has been tasked with picking up the leadership mantle since teammate Matteo Pelucchi had to leave the race extremely early on. He is a competent climber and will have enough support to protect him ahead of the last climb, after which IAM Cycling will look to place him in a competitive position in order to execute a race winning sprint.

Outcome:

1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd Tosh van der Sande 3rd Vicente Reynes

Le-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-10-Preview-

Le Tour de France – Stage 10 Preview

The first stage after a rest day is always treated with a great level of trepidation by the riders, many hoping that their body does not go into full recovery mode and begin to seize up before the halfway point as even been reached. There is little doubt that their return to the bike today shall include a variety of fireworks for two standout reasons; 1) It is the first mountains stage & true summit finish of Le Tour 2) July 14th is Bastille Day for the French, an occasion for any native rider to become a legend by becoming a French stage winner at Le Tour on the countries most celebrated anniversary.

Course:

This year’s passage through the Pyrenees is opened by the 167km Stage 10, stretching from Tarbes to the inaugural inclusion and summit finish of La Pierre Saint-Martin. A day which should be reasonably easy for the most part, allowing the breakaway to establish themselves and for the peloton’s favourites to keep life ticking over calmly before the climatic finale atop the HC La Pierre Saint-Martin.

Côte de Bougarber will be the first climb to be completed, a Category 4 ascent which averages a noteworthy 6.2% during its 1.4km entirety. Followed a little under 30km later by another Category 4 climb, this time the Côte de Viellesegure, a similar challenge to the preceding ascent at 1.7km in length and an average gradient of 5.9%. The final appetiser of the day is the third Category 4 ascent present on Stage 10, the Côte de Montory is a similar task yet again for the riders; 1.8km and a sapping increase to an average gradient of 6.3% for the meantime. Around 30km of the race will remain by this point, but the day’s true challenge is only just beginning as the slopes of La Pierre Saint-Martin start creeping upwards beneath the riders’ pedals.

The climb itself is 15.3km in total and sets a demanding average gradient of 7.4% from almost the first pedal revolution. In fact, many riders might appreciate it if this really was the case, because in reality the initial 10km of this ascent are in fact some of the toughest sections of the entire climb. Failing to drop below 7.7% at all in this period, the true damage shall be inflicted during five kilometres which each average in excess of 9%. Towards the top, the slopes soften somewhat to as low as 3.5%, but the last kilometre will be contested at 7.1% until 300m from the line where it begins to lessen once again.

 

Le-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-10-Preview-

 

Contenders:

The big story which many journalists will be seeking out to occur on Stage 10 is for a Frenchman to take an inspired victory during Bastille Day upon the first mountainous summit finish of 2015’s Tour de France. Both Pierre Rolland and Thibaut Pinot have conceded too much time already to battle it out for a worthwhile general classification placing, instead likely to now set their eyes upon stage victories and the Polka Dot Jersey. The former is riding well, though is hard to follow due to his aversion of battling for position amongst the peloton, yet should have the legs required to come to the fore here. Rolland might well fancy the longer climbs present in the Alps this year, but this still plays into his talents as a strong climber. Pinot’s loss of time in the opening week has been terrible, scuttling his race before he had even caught sight of the mountains on the horizon. There are mixed views emanating from his team FDJ.fr currently as to what his new ambitions shall be, some stating that he is still motivated by general classification hopes and will fuel them by challenging for stages in order to claw time back. On the  other hand, Pinot could instead decide to focus upon the sort of summit finishes which should allow him to rack up the points in pursuit of the Polka Dot Jersey. His recent showing at Tour de Suisse was a potent reminder of how gifted Pinot is in the mountains, winning the testing Queen Stage’s ascent of the mighty Rettenbachgletscher after attacking a host of big names and soloing to victory. With Bastille Day on the mind and a peloton unlikely to chase hard given the general classification losses of Rolland and Pinot, both of these talented French climbers have to be watched on a day soaked with national pride.

Warren Barguil possibly once highlighted this as a stage to strut his stuff like he did at the Vuelta a España, but now finds greater plans occupying his mind. The French rider is only 23 years old and is still a developing talent, though it is clear to see just how well he flourishes on such testing terrain already. It would be reckless to jeopardise an impressive top ten placing by attacking manically here for the win, so his chances of featuring are reduced somewhat. However, he is an aggressive rider and will be all to aware of much a win here on Bastille Day would impact upon his career.

Few expected Chris Froome to already bolster such a strong lead over the majority of his rivals before the mountains had even started to feature in this race. He is under no pressure to attack in the meantime and can revet to the usual Sky train of sustained pressure which should prevent any dangerous riders from attacking. That said, he will be aware of just how desperate some pre-race favourites might be to gain time now and could be forced to chase such moves solo if necessary. The last season has shown a developing aggression within the Team Sky leader and he cannot be discounted from stamping his authority and hammering home his advantage at the first time of asking.

Realistically speaking, Tejay Van Garderen is the only other general classification contender who will be happy with his current placing, sitting a total of 12 seconds down on Froome as it stands. The American has been dangerously underestimated by pundits and rivals alike, despite heading into this tour on the back of a very impressive Dauphiné. Perhaps some are still viewing him solely through his previous performances at this race, but at still only 25 years old, Van Garderen is growing as a rider and truly looks to be stepping up as general classification team leader in 2015. He has little need to attack here, but could be forced to pursue Froome depending on how events unfold during the final ascent.

Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana have both conceded much more time than they would have wanted to during the opening week and now face a battle to begin clawing it back from Chris Froome. Contador has not appeared to be in his usual pomp and it is likely that the fatigue of this year’s Giro d’Italia is still affecting him quite acutely. Regardless, the Spaniard usually comes strong in the final week of a grand tour, so there is still hope for us to see him perfuming at his best. It is unlikely he will choose to attack on this first opportunity and will rather aim to follow the wheel of Froome instead. The Colombian Quintana is a combative rider when it comes to the mountains and is likely to focus upon the Alpine stages to inflict the most damage. His love of the real steep gradients and sustain climbing means he is more likely to ride defensively on Stage 10, saving his energy for a day which does not soften towards the top.

Unless he is sandbagging right now, Vincenzo Nibali looks to be far from his best at this year’s Tour de France, though it is more a case of inconsistency than poor condition. The Italian has lost sufficient time already to be allowed a certain level of freedom by the likes of Sky and BMC, making it a possibility to see him finishing strongly here. His opening week has been a mixed bag across the time trial, cobbles, Mur de Huy and Mur de Bretagne; ensuring that he will be a very difficult man to predict for the peloton. If he chooses to make a move on Stage 10, he will only do so if on top form, in which case he shall be a tough man to catch.

Rigoberto Uran is a darkhorse bet for the podium currently, the Colombian is unexpectedly close to Chris Froome on the general classification approaching the mountains and his brief interactions with the media suggests he is attempting to keep a low profile. Though he is not likely to feature in the shake up for today’s stage, Uran should be watched intently in order to gauge his current condition and how genuine his chances of a podium charge really are.

Dutch supporters will look upon Bauke MollemaLaurens Ten DamRobert Gesink and Steven Kruijswijk to begin animating these opening day’s in the mountains. Mollema has ridden well in the two hilltop finishes so far and Gesink looks well placed to build a strong case for a final top ten placing come the podium in Paris. The same cannot be said for teammates Ten Dam and Kruiswijk who have already conceded an hour and half an hour respectively, a factor which would allow them great freedom to attack either solo or as part of a breakaway to contest this stage; assuming they are not required to help Robert Gesink later on.

Romain Bardet is already close to five minutes down on current leader Chris Froome and will be aware how unlikely any real general classification hopes are now. He is a very talented climber and does not shy away from attacking on such terrain; especially when it might seem the odds are so greatly stacked against him. Factoring in Bastille Day and its added motivation for the French riders means that he could prove worthwhile watching on Stage 10 for the win.

Two very interesting possibilities for the day come in the shape of Rafael Valls and Louis Meintjes, both have had tremendous seasons in 2015 so far and appear to have the current form to feature in a dangerous move on Stage 10. Valls did well in the early part of the season, winning the Tour of Oman and comes here as one of Lampre-Merida’s best chances of success in the mountains. Meintjes on the other hand has proven to be a rider capable of sticking with the best climbers of the peloton this year on some incredibly testing terrain. If given the freedom and allowed to make his way into the break, he has the natural talent to take such a move right the way to the line.

Ryder Hesjedal deserves a mention for his abilities to go solo or as part of a break over such terrain as today, though could prefer to wait for a harder day before coming to the fore. He was particularly animated at the Giro d’Italia this year, and if in the same form at Le Tour, could certainly be worth keeping an eye on if making it into the breaks for a stage victory.

Outcome:

Stage 10 is an incredibly awkward day to predict, the majority of those aiming for a tilt at the general classification should not have to ride aggressively with so many tougher stages ahead of them. Froome, Van Garderen, Contador and Quintana would all likely be happy to let this stage slip into the hands of the outsiders, but Nibali could well make a move which provokes the others to follow. Perhaps the biggest factor to bear in mind is the significance of Bastille Day for the French riders so skilled at climbing, stirring their national pride and inspiring them to make moves they would perhaps otherwise consider foolish. Of those in good enough form to do just that are Thibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland, two of the nation’s finest climbers who now find their general classification hopes wrecked after only nine days in the saddle. Pinot could attack late and see little interest from the peloton behind to chance, though might concede any gains quite rapidly on the final easing kilometre or so. Rolland offers a contrast in the sense that his best chance of a stage win is more likely to come from a breakaway which gives the peloton the slip and ends up staying clear all day to contest the stage. If fireworks do indeed emerge from the top names, Chris Froome is clearly the most fancied rider to dominate here and if forced to do so, is likely to put his rivals in their places once again.

1st Thibaut Pinot 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Vincenzo Nibali

Outsider: Pierre Rolland

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-10-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Giro d’Italia – Stage 10 Preview

After a hard fought opening week of this year’s Giro d’Italia, the riders earned themselves a valuable rest day after Stage 9, but they shall be back in action once again on Tuesday for another 200km ride. The stage itself should allow the majority to slip easily back into a smooth rhythm, riding along the coast with no anxieties as to mountain passes or time cuts. Regardless, there is always action to be seen at a Grand Tour and Stage 10 should do just that with an exciting finale for the sprinters to take the limelight upon.

Course:

Survival was the name of the game for the fast men during the first week’s stages, but having held their own up to now, they should return to the fore once again in order to contest the outcome of Stage 10. Draped lazily along the Adriatic coast is the 200km route for the day; linking Civitanova Marche to Forlì. Lacking any real troublesome terrain and only possessing one recognised climb, the day will feel pancake flat to riders who have spent the last few days clinging on to survival between the broom wagon and peloton. The Category 4 Monte di Gabicce is 4.8km long and will be the only climb of the day which needs summiting, averaging a gradient of 3.5% with a (surprising) maximum of 9% and is succeeded by a brief passage of gently rolling road. Once completed, it is flat all the way to the finish line in Forlì, where a rather technical finale awaits those hoping to emerge victorious in the sprint.

The deciding kilometres feature road furniture which is far from appreciated in these hectic battles for position; roundabouts, traffic islands and even a 1.5km cobbled section are all present. Within the final kilometre the sprinters’ team will have to navigate a safe passage through a narrowing road and late turn with 500m left before they hit the finishing straight itself. Possessing no uphill gradient upon a wide surface would normally set this up as a drag race for the sprinters, but with the preceding kilometres likely to cause chaos, those more apt at following wheels are likely to benefit most here.

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-10-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Contenders:

As ever, André Greipel will be the favourite for many on a day culminating in a sprint, especially as he has already proven his form at the Giro with a dominant performance to win Stage 6. The German’s biggest challenge will be the tricky final passage which leads to the 500m finishing straight; technical courses not being something the big sprinter is known for succeeding upon. However, he shall remain confident of a great lead out from his Lotto-Soudal team who are now focused on delivering stage wins rather than a general classification performance. They will aim to deliver him safely onto the final straight, where as the fastest man in this race, he can succeed by simply outgunning his rivals from the front.

The stage is seen as a big target for Lampre-Merida, a team who have arrived here with a roster capable of supporting Sacha Modolo extremely well in these technical sprints. With Roberto Ferrari and Maximiliano Richeze as his two key men in the finale, the Italian stands a great chance of securing his first grand tour stage win at the Giro. Given his potent acceleration, Modolo has the ability to emerge from this late corner and open a big enough gap which a poorly placed Greipel simply cannot claw back in such a short period of time.

IAM Cycling were very happy with the performance of Matteo Pelucchi on Stage 2, taking an impressive second place behind the barnstorming sprint of André Greipel. The testing finish will require protection and good positioning from his team, something which Pelucchi will not be too troubled by with a lead out bolstering riders well versed in such finishes. If he exits the final bend high in the order, Pelucchi is a real danger to the hopes of Lotto-Soudal and the Italian sprinters present here.

As has been mentioned several teams already during this opening week, Trek Factory Racing have assembled the most clear cut lead out team in the support of their sprinter Giacomo NizzoloCompared to the trains on offer here for the likes of Lotto-Soudal, Lampre-Merida and IAM Cycling, Nizzolo’s team is an incredibly quick outfit which can cause damage when utilised correctly. Thus far, this has not been the case, but if Nizzolo finally gets life to click in these sprints, he could sneak a win in a technical finish which plays into his hands.

Team Sky took the win on the second stage after Elia Viviani fended off André Greipel and a fast finishing Moreno Hofland in the finish to win him the maglia rosso. Stage 10 could see a successful return to the fray for the Italian rider, though he is perhaps the least supported of the obvious favourites on this stage. Whereas some here such as Modolo or Nizzolo are not afraid of surfing the wheels, Viviani has a mixed record with such finishes and though this method delivered him the win on Stage 2, a greater contributing factor was Greipel starting his sprint earlier than expected. Like the German, Viviani is blessed with pace, but he will need a lucky last kilometre to place him in a position where he can execute this to great success.

Those who are likely to challenge for the remaining places in the final top ten include Southeast’s Manuel Belletti (who has been riding exceptionally well thus far), Luka MezgecMoreno Hofland and Davide Appollonio.

Outcome:

It seems that the outcome really does hinge upon which rider is found to have the best position exiting the final turn with 500m remaining. All favourites will still need to navigate the preceding hectic kilometres with no errors, but the broad spectrum of teams targeting this stage are bound to jostle for position late on. Should he be placed perfectly once again by his Lotto-Soudal teammates, André Greipel will be the fastest man over 500m, but cannot afford to be tasked with closing a gap to a leading sprinter after the last corner. A greater confidence is likely to be placed in Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo by many, both having proved canny riders in finishes which agitate the type of maelstrom exacerbated by these technical finishes. Modolo has the better jump of acceleration and it would come as little surprise to see him attack soon after the final turn in pole position. Matteo Pelucchi has a threatening blend of pace and skill which could leave the more fancied names here licking their wounds by the finish line. His form this year has been good against sprinters who are considered faster than him, and with that in mind, an upset would not be that shocking in the eyes of Spokenforks.

1st André Greipel 2nd Sacha Modolo 3rd Matteo Pelucchi

Tick Tock – La Vuelta a España Stage 10 Preview

Despite Monday being a day of rest for the peloton, the majority will have been fretting over the next task which confronts them on Stage 10. Riders may feel that they have already suffered at their limits’ in the opening 9 days, yet come the end of Tuesday’s 36.7km Individual Time Trial, some will have discovered new realms of hurt. Starting in Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela and progressing uphill from the start ramp, this is a typical Vuelta time trial in the sense that little flat tarmac is offered, but you would be wrong to envision mountain passes throughout.

A Grand Tour time trial will never be an easy day out.

A Grand Tour time trial will never be an easy day out.

 

Course:

Mountain men will not be overly favoured here compared to recent Vuelta time trials, this means the traditional specialists against-the-clock will have a chance of a stage win. Despite the day being less relevant than most TTs in terms of the general classification, the big names will be eager to not ship too much time to neither stage winner, nor fellow Red Jersey contenders. Chris Froome and Alberto Contender could put in impressive performances on the day despite the terrain only having one categorised climb beyond the generally rolling roads; though the Cat 3 Alto del Moncayo should leave an impact on most pairs of legs after its 5.5% average gradient is completed at the end of 2.2km. Once over the top of the stage’s sole climb, it is a gradual downhill roll into the finishing town of Borja where concentration must remain high as they navigate five tricky turns once pushing beyond the flamme rouge.

Contenders:

Despite the occasional appearance off the front of the peloton, Tony Martin has remained relatively anonymous at the Vuelta thus far and tomorrow’s profile shows why. The distance and terrain suit power more than than the seemingly hollow boned climbers, who float to the top with great ease, so Tony Martin will have this as a huge goal. Opening with 11km of uphill roads will not deter the ‘Panzerwagen’, as the resulting downhill trip to Borja will guarantee Martin the chance of pushing every last watt from his 58″ big ring – as long as fitness allows him too. Fabian Cancellara can have similar words said of him, but a flatter route would possibly have pulled the stage more into his favour than Martin’s, nevertheless he will use this as a litmus test of the pair’s form ahead of the World Championship TT in a few weeks. From the ranks of the Red Jersey hopefuls will be Chris Froome, seeing the day as the perfect chance to recoup some time as well as entertaining the idea of a stage win. The issue with Froome is his conditions, it has been no secret that the Sky rider has struggled to stay on his bike recently and it is possible that recent injury fatigue will have an effect. However, should he find himself in good shape ahead of Stage 10, Froome could be the biggest threat to Martin’s chance of a win. Alberto Contador’s chances of performing well are almost a mystery, he had recently recovered his pre-suspension form in time trials, but surely time away from the bike will have blunted this somewhat. Regardless, he is likely to perform well inside the top ten, as he looks to build a solid base from which to attack upon in the mountainous conclusion of this year’s Vuelta. Others who are likely to populate the upper reaches of the finishing table are Rohan Dennis, Adriano Malori and Bob Jungels – all of which have shown great results against the big names earlier in the season.

We will be seeing this grin again soon.

We will be seeing this grin again soon.

Outcome:

The win tomorrow is likely to be fought for amongst Tony Martin, Chris Froome and Fabian Cancellara. Despite the strength and depth of this trio, Tony Martin should have enough to take this stage win after limiting his efforts in the opening week of the Vuelta. Should Froome be on form, he could push the German close, but so far in this tour he seems to be struggling to find his best condition.

1st Martin 2nd Froome 3rd Contador