La Vuelta a España 2017 - Stage Preview

La Vuelta a España 2017 – Stage 16 Preview

Course:

After two weeks of racing and a couple of tough summit finishes before the last rest day, this 40.2km individual time trial has the potential to drive a wedge between the slightest of cracks of those riders beginning to weaken. Starting in Circuito de Navarra, there is not a great deal to be said about this rather simple course, finishing sometime later at Logroño. The immediate riding out from the start and into the final kilometre are reasonably technical, though the course itself will suit those who are capable of sustain a high amount of power throughout. There are no recognised climbs and only a few slight drags along the way, with much of the second half actually raced slightly downhill. Such a course has the ability to expose weaknesses amongst those chasing for a good general classification place, as there are no opportunities for the lithe limbed climbers to make up time if having a bad day.

La Vuelta a España 2017 - Stage 16 Preview

Contenders:

Nelson Oliveira still lacks a major win against the clock, though has already won a stage of La Vuelta a España despite this fact, and would certainly like to secure another victory with his specialist talent for time trials today. He has looked strong during the race thus far and should be extremely interested in performing well on Stage 16, especially in the absence of the usual clutch of time trial riders who dominate such days. With nothing else to really worry about, he can go into this challenge, knowing that he can end the day having put everything into a shot at glory.

Chris Froome is potentially the strongest time trial rider at the race, as the likes of Tom Dumoulin and Tony Martin are not here to argue otherwise. The Sky captain is in a dominant position as ever, though does not need to hammer home an advantage today, as it looks like the mountains are where he is hoping to deliver the greatest damage to his rivals. However, he wants to ride this race aggressively after such a defensively ridden Tour de France and will be aware that he may not even need to give it everything to win by a considerable margin today.

Bob Jungels certainly has the talent for a contest against the clock, though would no doubt have preferred a course which played to his strengths more so. Despite this, his development during the last year has been considerable and now makes the chances of winning a time trial in the final week of a grand tour more realistic. Though he will certainly perform convincingly enough, it might actually prove to be the fatigue of his rivals which delivers him a great win.

Yves Lampaert might not be an immediately obvious choice, but with a more open field and the accumulative tiring nature of a grand tour, he is well worth mentioning on Stage 16. He has worked hard for his team up to this point, so could prove to be more fatigued than previously thought, but his strong performances suggest that might not be too great a concern. He fits the bill for a rider likely to suit the course, but he shall need a bit of luck to steal the win from one of the bigger names here.

Tobias Ludvigsson has the potential to threaten the podium, but his form is rather unknown at this point of the race and he does possess an erratic record against the clock during longer races. However, he finished within 90″ of Chris Froome on the final time trial at La Vuelta last year, collecting third place on a similar course and distance; thus cannot be disregarded as a result.

Others deserving of a mention are Luis Leon Sanchez, Wilco Kelderman, Stefan Clement, Alberto Contador and Niki Terpstra

Outcome:

1st Nelson Oliveira 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Bob Jungels

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Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 21 Preview

Course:

In recent years, individual time trials have done little to excite fans at grand tours, but the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia is poised to finish with a race against the clock which could potentially hand the maglia rosa over to one of four riders on the last day. Starting on the famous motor racing circuit of Monza, the stage comprises 29.3km of predominantly downhill racing, concluding at the capital’s extraordinary Duomo di Milano. There is no great amount of technical demands to be negotiated, nor does the topography offer anything in the way of climbs to separate the general classification big names on the last day. Of course, that is not to say it is simply a case of climbing upon the bike and finishing some 29.3.km later with immense ease. A handful of tight turns are present later in the course, which given how hard the frontrunners are expected to be pushing, are always capable of punishing the slightest lapse in concentration when cornering. A total of 75 seconds separates current maglia rosa owner Nairo Quintana, from the chasing pack of Vincenzo Nibali, Thibaut Pinot, Tom Dumoulin and Ilnur Zakarin; these five riders capable of finishing in almost any order after the time trial. Regardless of who does succeed in securing 2017’s centenary edition of the Giro d’Italia, the script for Stage 21 is far from certain.

Giro d'Italia 2017 Stage 21 Preview

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin has had to dig extremely deep in order to limit his losses in this final week of racing, yet has successfully placed himself within touching distance of his first overall grand tour stage victory. Just how much energy he has had to invest is the greatest question mark hanging above him, potentially hampering his efforts here and leaving him just short of the maglia rosa. The Dutchman’s prowess against the clock has been almost unmatchable in recent years, though this course does not provide the rolling terrain and technical nature which has often seen Dumoulin bury his opposition. Regardless, his talent for this discipline is indomitable, and the motivation of winning the pink jersey can only serve has added fuel en route to victory.

Thibaut Pinot produced another aggressive display during yesterday’s stage, culminating in his first Giro d’Italia stage win, as predicted by Spokenforks beforehand. Of those currently challenging for the overall win, Pinot appears to be in the strongest condition in this decisive week of racing and seems the one most likely to overachieve on Stage 21. Despite having previously been seen as a weak time trialist, the French rider has worked hard on this skill, now finding himself as reigning national time trial champion and winner of Stage 3’s individual time trial at 2016’s Tour de Romandie. Though he would favour a route with at least a few hills, being a larger rider could prove beneficial on this flat power based course, a second place finish overall is certainly achievable; perhaps even more.

Vincenzo Nibali did not produce the sort of ruthlessly cunning display which has often seen him snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at major races like these. Now sitting a total of 39 seconds back on race leader Nairo Quintana, he will be looking over his shoulder at Thibaut Pinot and Tom Dumoulin, both of whom could perform strongly enough to push the defending champion off the podium. He has ridden his concluding stages with a cagey mentality, making it difficult to gauge what Nibali might be able to muster with the pink jersey at stake. This course is not well suited to his attributes, yet there should be enough to just about keep his toes upon the Milanese podium.

Nairo Quintana seems the rider most likely to lose out on Stage 21, the Movistar captain far from being enamoured with the rigours of flat individual time trials. The Colombian has not succeeded in using the final mountain stages to build enough of a buffer to his rivals heading into this time trial, now finding himself with Tom Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot placed within the margin of loss which Quintana is expected to suffer during the final stage. It will be extremely difficult to defend a modest 43″ and 53″ lead to the Frenchman and Dutchman respectively, especially on this mid-distance route, lacking anything resembling favourable terrain for Quintana; slipping off the podium lurks ominously in Milano.

Ilnur Zakarin was a major protagonist yesterday, igniting the fuse upon the final climb of the Giro d’Italia, author of the attack which culminated in Thibaut Pinot winning the stage and Tom Dumoulin losing time to all major rivals. The Russian was a competent rider in time trials earlier in his career, but has now chosen to hone his talents in the mountains instead. Despite this factor, he now looks to be one of the sharpest riders in this final week and will be confident of turning in a performance which harks back to his previous prowess against the clock. It will be difficult to progress further up the general classification on Stage 21, his greatest chance of doing so being a plummeting Nairo Quintana falling down to fifth.

Vasil Kiryienka could prove to be the man to beat on the last stage of the 100th Giro d’ItaliaTeam Sky having undoubtedly looked after their Belarusian powerhouse with the intention of adding another stage win to their collection. The stoney faced rider will not have to worry about any climbs or particularly technical segments here, focusing instead on generating huge amounts of watts and sustaining them throughout the 29.3km course. He crashed in the final corner of the first individual time trial, yet still held the fastest time for a while and will now likely view that error as motivation to take the win in Milano.

Bob Jungels will be expected to recover the maglia bianca from Adam Yates on the final stage off the Giro d’Italia, the young rider being renowned for his ability against the clock since his early days. Many anticipated that he would begin to diminish in the concluding stages, yet the Luxembourg time trial champion has managed to match the majority of big names when required and may even push for the win here. Though not truly playing to his strengths, he appears comparatively fresh to others, which may prove enough to deliver the victory.

Those who may challenge for the last stage honours on offer at 2017’s Giro d’Italia are Luis Leon Sanchez, Manuel QuinziatoJos van Emden and Tobias Ludvigsson.

Outcome:

1st Vasil Kiryienka 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Thibaut Pinot

Final General Classification:

1st Tom Dumoulin 2nd Thibaut Pinot 3rd Vincenzo Nibali

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Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

The first of this year’s two decisive individual time trials at the Giro d’Italia is to be tackled on Stage 10, taking the shape of a rather long 39.8km course, covering a range of technically demanding roads from Foligno to Montefalco. The opening 12km – 13km of the time trial will benefit those who specialise in the purest form of racing against the clock, seeking to churn huge amounts of power as they sail through relatively simple roads. However, it is from this point onwards that the thoroughbred time trialists may see their ambitions clipped by those able to take advantage of the hills and technical sections, producing a varied mixture of contenders for Stage 10 honours.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 10 Preview

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin continues to impress when having to compete with the far more talented climbers at this race, demonstrating his abilities when finishing behind mountain goat Nairo Quintana by only 24″ on Stage 9, after producing another well judged ride up a climb which broke many contenders. The Dutchman has become one of the leading lights in time trialing during recent years, though has now admittedly switched focus to grand tours, yet has managed to avoid diminishing his form against the clock in pursuit of better showings uphill. He may not be as powerful upon the shorter and more simple TT courses, but for Stage 10’s mixture of power and precision, Dumoulin will be expected to turn in a dominant performance which will secure the maglia rosa; for what may prove a longer time than many expect.

Bob Jungels is another rider who will view the day’s course with eager eyes, no doubt seeing the combination of opening power section and following tricky run to home as ideal territory from which to secure a stage victory. The opening week demonstrated how strong Jungels is at Giro d’Italia so far and he will have sought to conserve energy ascending Blockhaus compared to his major rival for today Tom Dumoulin. A slightly fresher Bob Jungels could prove a serious challenger for the talented Tom Dumoulin, pushing the latter’s skills all the way to line if he wishes to win both stage and maglia rosa in Montefalco.

Vasil Kiryienka could prove Team Sky’s best chance of immediately salvaging something from 2017’s Giro d’Italia, after team leader Geraint Thomas saw his general classification chances scythed down when hemorrhaging time after being brought down by a parked motorbike. The Belarusian rider is extremely talented when it comes to this distance and choice of terrain, but is unlikely to have entered the race with much freedom to consider winning on Stage 10. Regardless, if given permission to totally commit himself to winning this stage, Kiryienka is capable of turning in a storming ride without a great deal of preparation.

Geraint Thomas will be the other option for Team Sky to ease their wounds after the disaster of Stage 9, the Welshman potentially encouraged to channel his frustrations into a stage winning performance here. It is easy to forget how gifted Thomas has previously proven to be against the clock, mostly as a result of playing lieutenant to both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome for so long now, yet that does not mean he cannot still rise to the challenge. The course does in fact suit him relatively strongly and there is no doubt that he will not wish to ride the rest of the Giro d’Italia simply for the sake of finishing, especially as he has never looked stronger on a bike as of right now.

Victor Campenaerts has enjoyed some impressive results during individual time trials recently, rising rapidly beyond people’s previous expectations and outperforming some highly regarded specialists along the way. Another rider who is expected to enjoy the nature of the course, a strong showing here is well within his abilities, though his responsibilities to captain Steven Kruijswijk could stand in the way today.

Others likely to challenge the top ten are Ilnur ZakarinAndrey AmadorTobias LudvigssonTanel Kangert and Vincenzo Nibali.

Outcome:

1st Vasil Kiryienka 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Geraint Thomas

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La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

After almost three weeks of racing, the specialists against the clock shall step into the limelight at last and look to take their sole opportunity of glory in Stage 19’s individual time trial. A relatively simple route from Xàbia to Calp will last 37km and looks the ideal terrain to establish a high speed battle amongst the contenders for stage honours here. However, with many twists and turns on the cards for the riders, there is also a large technical element to the day which will need negotiating en route to victory.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 19 Preview

Contenders:

Jonathan Castroviejo shall view today as his to lose, with few thoroughbred time trialists at La Vuelta, there shall not be many likely to push the Spanish rider to his limits for the win. The Movistar rider has long been closing the gap to the likes of Tony MartinTom Dumoulin and Bradley Wiggins, now finding himself without such a rival to truly test him as the peloton reaches Stage 19. Barring any technical errors or bad weather, Castroviejo is the clear favourite to secure a home win for Spanish fans.

Chris Froome may not be at his imperious best, but there is no doubt that he has been saving energy in anticipation of putting in a monstrous performance today. The gap to leader Nairo Quintana has grown considerably and it is hard to imagine Sky were expecting to chase such a deficit by the time they reached this point. Regardless, Froome’s goal now is to reduce the lead of Quintana as soon as possible, potentially setting himself up for a spectacular final few days at La Vuelta a España.

Luis León Sánchez Gil has previously performed very well during individual time trials which come late in a grand tour, marking himself out as a definite contender, especially given his strength during the last couple of weeks. He might not be the fastest against the clock, but once an attritional race takes its toll on his rivals, there is no reason he cannot better the time of any rider.

Victor Campenaerts is reigning Belgian time trial champion, contesting his first career grand tour in the shape of La Vuelta and clearly has an eye on performing well here after finishing last yesterday in hope of conserving energy. Had this come during the first week of racing, Campenaerts would have been high on the list of contenders, but the effects of a draining debut grand tour may now limit his chances on Stage 19.

Vegard Stake Laengen took a surprising third place during this year’s Giro d’Italia on Stage 9, reminding people of his decent ability in an individual time trial as a result. Given the distance and terrain on offer, the Norwegian has a great chance of featuring in the mix once again and should be worth watching.

Others deserving of consideration are Tobias LudvigssonFabio FellineAlberto ContadorSilvan Dillier and Thomas De Gendt.

Outcome:

1st Jonathan Castroviejo 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Luis León Sánchez Gil

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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