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

Giro d'Italia Stage 20 Preview

GIRO D’ITALIA 2016 – STAGE 9 PREVIEW

Course:

Today’s 40.5km time trial from Radda to Greve shall provide our first true battle of the general classification contenders, taking the riders through Chianti’s rolling terrain and offering a technical challenge ahead of the Giro’s first rest day of 2016’s edition.

Giro d'Italia Stage 9 Preview

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin may have lost the maglia rosa after Stage 8, but it is easy to imagine that he was instead saving his efforts in anticipation of winning the stage here and in the process take back the leader’s jersey. However, there has been much talk after the disappointment of Friday that he has actually been suffering from fatigue and may now instead struggle to turn in the type of performance we had anticipated from the Dutchman. Regardless, Dumoulin is still the most talented in-form time trialist on Stage 9 and is certain to be leading the pack once again.

Bob Jungels has already showcased his strength at this year’s Giro and will be confident of seizing upon Dumoulin’s potential weakness to secure his first grand tour victory. The terrain is to his liking and it will lean favourably to his technical abilities; he is very much a man to watch here.

Ilnur Zakarin is no stranger to time trials and certainly has the climbing talents to challenge for the win on a stage such as this, but his recent performances have raised some doubts. The Katusha rider will need to negotiate some technical and high power segments on Stage 9, but his recent focus on climbing performances are certain to have diminished his maximum output somewhat. This opening week has shown that Zakarin has the talent to aim for a podium place at the Giro d’Italia and could rather be focusing upon performing in the mountains and limiting his losses here instead.

Alejandro Valverde is an interesting pick for stage honours, the Spaniard is by no means a specialist time trialist, yet this type of rolling terrain could really help him produce a powerful performance. His showings during the opening week have wobbled somewhat, but it now looks as if he is finding his rhythm once again, potentially laying the foundations for a win on Stage 9.

Vincenzo Nibali‘s performance on Stage 8 looks to have quelled his critics concerns for the moment and appears to be a convincing stepping stone to securing him at least a podium place by the end of this tour. The Italian champion has had to invest the time and effort into his time trialling abilities in the last few years, now finding himself more competent than ever, so should definitely be considered for the win on terrain which allows him to call upon his climbing prowess.

Stefan Küng is a real wildcard today, the young Swiss rider is more than proficient in time trials and is extremely unlucky to find himself without a win having looked on course for Stage 1 victory before a crash derailed his chances. There are no question marks over his talent, but the real concern is whether or not he can perform upon this type of lumpy terrain.

Fabian Cancellara is of course Switzerland’s most legendary cyclist and has found his greatest glories when battling against the clock. The Swiss rider was ill ahead of the Giro’s start, but has since recovered, though to what extent exactly is not understood. Though this course does suit him convincingly, it is tough to imagine him winning after a poor build up to this challenge; a challenge where any weakness is exposed and magnified.

Other capable of finding themselves amongst the top ten by the end of the day include Esteban ChavesTobias Ludvigsson and Rigoberto Uran.

Outcome:

1st Bob Jungels 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Vincenzo Nibali