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

World Road Race Championship 2017 (Qatar)

World Championships 2016 – Men’s Individual Time Trial Preview

Course:

Traditionally a race against the clock, this year’s individual time trial shall have the added protagonist of the desert sun added into the equation, ensuring life become even more gruelling as the riders aim to leave nothing left in the tank as they cross the line in pursuit of the career changing rainbow bands. A relatively simple affair which stretches for 40km over smooth tarmac, this year’s contest is near enough a drag race from start to finish, with only a few roundabouts to break up the rhythm of the riders as they travel from Lusail to The Pearl. As already demonstrated by the women’s time trial yesterday, the heat’s ability to accelerate fatigue can be mismanaged and ultimately tip a rider to the point of heat exhaustion in only a few kilometres of being in the red. Although plenty of riders today shall have already gained a glimpse of the roads during the team time trial a few days ago, the true attritional nature of riding this discipline alone will have been somewhat disguised during the team event. With no opportunities to balance efforts on ascents and descents, once each rider is up to speed, there is little pause in cadence or effort until they cross the finish line. This unusual course and location is sure to last as an impressive conquest for whoever leaves Qatar with a scorched set of rainbow bands upon their shoulders.

World Time Trial Championship 2017 (Qatar)

Contenders:

Tony Martin appears to be in great form heading into the contest today and finally suggests the kind of condition which has previously secured him a trio of world championship titles. However, his season has not always been encouraging leading into this major target and there have been blips as Martin tinkered between his ideal position on the bike. Looking at his year as a whole, it is not the broad array of victories normally seen in a favourite for a world title, but his class is timeless and there is a strong possibility he will seize upon a peak in form to take victory in Qatar.

Tom Dumoulin‘s rise to the top table of time trialists has been impressive, though has stalled somewhat as a result of his growing ambition to challenge for the general classification at major stage races. The Dutchman has endured a tough season and may now already find his body anticipating winter’s rest before he rolls off the start ramp. There is a clear lack of recent results to mark him out as the favourite, yet his innate talent ensures that a medal is certainly within his grasp still. The course is too simplistic for him in regards to topography, but he might be able to make some minor gains during the more technically demanding turns and roundabouts.

Rohan Dennis left the Olympics clearly disappointed by his performance in the time trial and has since chosen to refocus in an attempt to remedy that by going for gold here. His preparation has been the most consistent of all the main contenders, recording great performances at both the Tour of Britain and Eneco Tour, arriving here with confidence to spare. The nature of the course should allow him to lay down the power from end to end, but it is his lack of convincing performances over similar distances which raises doubts as to his hopes of burying his opposition for certain.

Jonathan Castroviejo has returned to his best when it comes to racing against the clock in 2016 and shall now be seriously pushing for a medal at this year’s world championship. He has played down his chances due to the incredibly flat nature of the course, though this has not always prevented him from matching the best in such contests, while both distance or temperature has the potential to level the playing field yet further still. Throughout the season he has matched the very best at some of the biggest races and it would not be a great surprise to see him breakthrough to take the win here today.

Victor Campenaerts looks to be well-suited to the task at hand and will hope to end his season with a performance which demonstrates just how brilliantly he has been riding in the time trials as of late. He finished second to Jonathan Castroviejo at the European Games and demonstrated his ability to perform well on long flat courses such as this on several occasions this year. Certainly worth watching throughout the day, Campenaerts definitely has a chance of sneaking into the medal places at the expense of a bigger name.

Others deserving of a mention are Vasil KiryienkaTaylor PhinneyAlex Dowsett and Jos Van Emden.

Outcome:

1st Jonathan Castroviejo 2nd Tony Martin 3rd Rohan Dennis

Rio Olympics Individual Time Trial 2016 Preview

Olympic Games Rio 2016 – Men’s Individual Time Trial Preview

Course:

A reduced schedule of riders will contest 2016’s Olympic Individual Time Trial after a crash strewn road race last weekend left several nursing road rash and broken bones. The 54.6km course which is set to decide 2016’s gold medal winner mostly comprises two laps of the Grumari Grota Funda ascents, bookended by two relatively simple flat sections at the start and finish. Riders will face the Grumari first, a 1.3km climb which averages 9.4% and features a leg-breaking ramp of double-digits which strikes a dizzying 24% before the top. The Grota Funda is longer at 2.1km, but its average gradient of 6.8% is a much more consistent affair which only briefly touches 10% towards the summit. These two ascents are then repeated, before a final ride down to the coastline will allow many to lay down the final watts ahead of the finish line.

Rio Olympics Road Race 2016 Preview

Contenders:

Chris Froome crushed his opposition against the clock at this year’s Tour de France at each time of asking and arrives here as the favourite for many to perform best on a course which leans in favour of those comfortable with climbing. It is unlikely that he shall be at his absolute best for this race, but that is likely to still be enough to earmark Froome as a potential medalist in Rio.

Tom Dumoulin seemed destined to walk away with gold today from the start of the season, but a seemingly innocuous crash late in this year’s Tour de France inflicted a broken wrist and thus raised huge doubts as to whether the Dutchman would even compete. This mixed course of power flats and steep climbs is ideal terrain for Dumoulin and it is difficult to see anyone as well suited to this as the peloton’s leading time trial specialist. The greatest concern is obviously his recovery from the broken wrist, a factor which could become more problematic as the strain of this 54.6km race takes its toll on the demanding aerodynamic position required here.

Vasil Kiryienka is the reigning World Champion of this discipline and has a well documented history of peaking perfectly for major occasions. The Belarusian rider may not have impressed a great deal this year, but his commitment to the orders of Team Sky and his race leaders often limits his efforts when it comes to these contests. Today however is a totally different story, Kiryienka provided the freedom in Rio to demonstrate why he is the current World Champion.

Rohan Dennis has long focused upon performing well at Rio and appears to have enjoyed a relatively neat lead up to this race. Dennis performs well on this type of contrasting profile, giving him the opportunity to lay down the power at each end, while showcasing his climbing prowess during the larger mid-sections. He may be viewed as somewhat of an outsider, but given his incredible intentions to peak for today, it would be foolish to think he cannot cause an upset.

Fabian Cancellara‘s farewell season has done little to shine the kind of glory upon the Swiss legend we have grown accustomed to before he hangs up his wheels for life. He is another rider who specialises in reaching peak condition for a single day in the calendar, with this being one of the few remaining chances of major honours in his career, there is no doubt that he will have invested the utmost in challenging for a medal in Rio. The climbs are tough in places, though their short length will encourage him to pace the ascents and focus upon gaining the maximum amount of time during the downhill segues into the flat sections.

Tony Martin is well deserving of a mention here, even though there has been little evidence to suggest backing him to victory at the expense of all highlighted above. The German time trial specialist is no longer the dominant force he once was, yet he has maintained that Olympic gold is still a great ambition of his in 2016. Martin has improved his climbing ability year on year, without having to concede a great deal of engine power to do so, equipping him with a perfect set of skills to perform well today.

Other names who could all cause a stir at the top of the classification by the end of the race include; Taylor PhinneyIon Izagirre, Jonathan CastroviejoGeraint Thomas and Nelson Oliveira.

Outcome:

1st Vasil Kiryienka 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Tom Dumoulin

Le Tour de France 2016 Preview

LE TOUR DE FRANCE – STAGE 18

Course:

The stifling heat of yesterday’s trek through the mountains ultimately extinguished the hopes of many fans who had been expecting the top general classification riders to duke it out amongst themselves for stage honours. There is no doubt that the prospect of today’s uphill individual time trial was weighing many ambitions down on Stage 17, riders preferring instead to conserve energy in the hope of putting in a good performance today. Beginning in Sallanches, the route opens with several kilometres of relatively flat terrain, before kicking upwards to 10% as it signals the start of the day’s real challenge; eventually finishing in Megève after 17km of racing later. Fatigue will play a large role in the outcome here, many of those suffering badly yesterday will be anxious of losing yet more time in this race against the clock. This course will allow the pure climbers to gain considerable time on the rest of the peloton, but it is those who can combine this with the required power to dominate a time trial that are most likely to benefit by the finish.

Tour de France Stage 18 Preview 2016

Contenders:

Richie Porte has an encouraging record in these short uphill time trials and will be confident of recording a time likely to challenge many of his rivals. He has appeared incredibly strong as the race approached its final week, looking like the only rider able to match Chris Froome right now, a factor somewhat obscured by his misfortune with punctures and crashes. Porte knows that this is a golden opportunity to climb the general classification, but a stage win here will surely be the greater motivation for 2016’s Tour de France.

Chris Froome will struggle to find many likely to bet against him today, the Sky leader is indomitable these days and has already proven at this year’s tour that few can match him in a time trial. The steepness of this affair will diminish the chances of the thoroughbred time trial riders contesting the win, opening this up for another stage victory for the race’s most dominant rider as it stands. He appears fresher than anyone, even after 17 stages, and many expect Froome to hammer a nail into the coffins of all around him with a potent performance today.

Tom Dumoulin is the most likely rider outside of the general classification battle to challenge for the win here, the Dutchman continually cementing his place as one of the finest time trial riders currently racing. He has demonstrated his climbing prowess already at the race, taking a stage win as a result of it, making it plausible that he shall blend power and climbing ability to great effect on Stage 18 to take the win.

Fabio Aru shall be an outsider worth watching here, the young Italian rider has emerged as one of the stronger competitors in the final week and has previously impressed on mountain time trials despite normally lacking a great ability against the clock. Once he enters onto the steepest sections of today’s stage, Aru will be able to strut his stuff on his favoured gradients, terrain he often uses as a foundation to victory with great success.

Nairo Quintana has fallen far from expectations and now seems to be openly admitting that his form is nowhere near good enough to challenge for the yellow jersey. This uphill time trial would normally see Quintana marked as one of the expected favourites, but his performances at this year’s race up to now show little sign of encouragement to back him here. Natural talent can compensate for a lack of form to a certain degree, though it seems too great a task to make it all up in one attempt and become contender today.

Other riders worth monitoring during today’s time trial are; Ilnur ZakarinAlejandro ValverdeRomain BardetAdam YatesRui CostaTony Martin and Ion Izagirre.

Outcome:

1st Richie Porte 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Tom Dumoulin

Le Tour de France 2016 Preview

LE TOUR DE FRANCE – STAGE 13 PREVIEW

Course:

Yesterday’s baffling finale will still have people scratching their heads while Stage 13’s crucial time trial kicks off, this race against the clock poised as ever to have a say in who will walk away with 2016’s yellow jersey in Paris. Starting in Bourg-Saint-Andéol and finishing at La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc, the 37.5km individual time trial takes in an uphill start and finish, while a large plateau and sharp downhill section forms the rest of this course which appears to be an open affair. There are no sustained climbs of serious gradients, so the general classification frontrunners shall not be able to utilise such climbing skills, whereas those who are comfortable grinding away big gears will fancy this. However, this is not drag race from one end to the other, much of the course requires changes of cadence and gearing; a testing demand that many struggle with.

Tour de France Stage 13 Preview 2016

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin has grown immeasurably in the last couple of years to become one of the best time trial riders in the world, a fact made even more amazing by his parallel rise as a competitive name in the mountains too. The Dutchman has already picked up a stage victory at 2016’s Le Tour de France against the odds, but it is today’s offering which will truly catch his eye and it is Dumoulin who might prove to be toughest time of all to beat on Stage 13.

Fabian Cancellara is sailing ever closer to his retirement and is yet to really grab the marquee win which would seal his career satisfyingly. The Swiss legend has proven to be quite anonymous up until now, though the expectation is that he shall break cover on Stage 13 in an attempt to add one further Tour de France stage victory to his tally. The course suits him well enough, likely to offer him the terrain to gain sufficient time during the mid-point, before then rising to the finish with enough in hand so as to avoid burying himself.

Chris Froome will be pleased to return to his saddle after yesterday culminated with him sprinting up Mont Ventoux as the result of a moto stopping unexpectedly, sending him crashing into the back of former teammate Richie Porte. The profile is not ideal territory for Froome to truly dominate, but there is no doubt that he will be fired up to compensate for such a farcical display and will give it everything as a result.

Tony Martin continually progresses in the mountains, but many worry that such gains uphill have resulted in losses of his prowess against the clock. Admittedly, Martin has changed his career goals since being a World Champion time trialist, though you can never truly discard a rider who has achieved such a plethora of successes in this discipline.

Thibaut Pinot was long marked as being unable to realistically challenge for a grand tour due to his inability to compete in these time trials. This notion is no longer relevant though, as the Frenchman has not simply just improved his riding in this respect, but has now even won time trials. The course suits him reasonably well, if not perfectly and his goals at Le Tour now lean strongly towards stage wins. Given how much time he has now lost on the general classification, a good showing here will do little in regards to the yellow jersey, so he may decide to save his efforts and pursue a mountaintop stage win instead.

Richie Porte will be extremely frustrated after yesterday’s unexpected turn of events and will seek to deliver justice in a discipline which he normally excels at. Despite his amazing form right now, two bouts of misfortune have disguised this fact and he enters Stage 13 surprisingly underestimated. The rolling terrain plays into his hands nicely, while an uphill finish should really allow the BMC captain to make gains ahead of the finish line.

Tejay Van Garderen has continued to climb up the general classification with little fuss, now finding himself within a couple of minutes of the yellow jersey without having produced any flashy displays of riding. The American has fallen short of expectation in the recent years at the major grand tours, but 2016 sees a more assured Van Garderen, one who will fancy the odds of producing a convincing time trial on Stage 13 to climb yet further up the general classification.

Vasil Kiryienka is the reigning World Champion in this discipline and would no doubt like to secure a stage win at the world’s biggest race while wearing the rainbow stripes. However, Sky are ruthless in their meticulous planning of how to win a three week grand tour and it is hard to have seen them scheduling in a stage win for Kiryienka; a huge effort they are unwilling to allow of a man crucial to Froome’s success in the mountains.

Stephen Cummings has already demonstrated his immense form at this year’s Tour de France by taking a stage win and often placing himself in the battle for the day’s breakaway. These displays do make it easy to forget though that the British rider is somewhat of a time trial specialist and deserves a credible mention as a rider who could certainly find his way onto the podium. The downside of course, is that the consequence of his earlier efforts may have drained him and thus makes putting in a fully committed performance tougher than expected.

Outcome:

1st Tom Dumoulin 2nd Richie Porte 3rd Chris Froome

Rapido Guide – Tirreno Adriatico Stage 7 Preview

Course:

With several names still in contention for the overall win at Tirreno Adriatico the outcome will be decided by the final day’s individual time trial. The 10km blast around the streets of San Benedetto Del Tronto is poised to determine 2016’s edition of the race, but our attention instead turns to the likely contenders for stage victory on the concluding day.

T07_SanBenedetto_alt

Contenders:

Fabian Cancellara is in fantastic form so far this season and it is easy to see him taking the victory here with a barnstorming run which sets him up nicely for the classics season. Tony Martin is renowned for his abilities against the clock and this flat course should suit him well, though the short distance might make it difficult for the German to really put the power down effectively. Taylor Phinney is still on the road to recovery, but today is a fantastic opportunity to notch another won during his recuperation, the shorter course offering Phinney a realistic chance of causing an upset. Other riders likely to pepper the day’s final top ten are Alex DowsettStephen CummingsMaciej Bodnar and Bob Jungels.

It is also worth mentioning, that in the battle for the overall classification at Tirreno Adriatico, we expect World Champion Peter Sagan to overturn the deficit and walk away with his first stage race win in the rainbow bands; despite having not won an individual stage.

Outcome:

1st Fabian Cancellara 2nd Taylor Phinney 3rd Tony Martin