Liége - Bastogne - Liége Race Preview 2017

Liège–Bastogne–Liège – Race Preview 2017

Course:

The week of classics racing in the Ardennes reaches its crescendo with the year’s fourth monument of the season, Liége – Bastogne – Liége; the penultimate chance to win a monument until the Giro di Lombardia in late September. Known as La Doyenne or ‘The Old Lady’, the race’s 103rd edition since its founding in 1892 totals 258km from Liege and back again to the suburb of Ans. A predominantly tame opening half will do little to worry the bunch, allowing the day’s futile breakaway to obtain their time on TV for the sponsors, before being drawn back in by the peloton during the much harder second half of the race. Once the riders begin to turn back towards the fringes of Liége, where the finish line in Ans awaits them, they shall hit a gruelling sequence of nine climbs intended to send plenty of riders out the back door. The introduction of a short cobbled section towards last year’s finish has been removed, which should mean that the familiar triumvirate of Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas shall be the officially recognised battleground as they bear down upon Ans. However, as we have seen previously, it is the unclassified rising road into the finishing straight which has become a key springboard for remaining riders to make their move for the win. The rise lasts for almost 1.5km and hits a gradient of 10%, a challenge which will feel more like a mountain after more than 250km worth of racing.

There are many critics of The Old Lady, labelling it as a race where nothing much really happens for the most part, but in an era of teams throttling the life out of stage racing and several monuments, La Doyenne remains a contest few would wish to stake their savings on predicting.

Liége - Bastogne - Liége Race Preview 2017

Contenders:

Alejandro Valverde has once again entered the week of the Ardennes classics in the type of form which surely leaves some rivals pondering if it is even worth them showing up to contest these races. The Spaniard is in imperious form so far in 2017, the peloton all too aware of this fact when reaching the Mur de Huy during Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne, left to simply watch Valverde sail uphill to yet another victory. His Movistar team will seek to control the bulk of the day’s racing once again, confident that their team-leader will be able to follow the most important moves late on solo, finally putting his rivals to the sword with his customary burst of pace.

Dan Martin is still smarting from his crash in the final corner of 2014’s edition, appearing on course to defend his 2013 title and no doubt believes there to be a great deal of unfinished business with Liége – Bastogne – Liége. He was once again unable to beat Valverde at La Flèche Wallonne, though did suffer from undesirable positioning when his longterm classics rival finally attacked for the line. Martin will want to make the final kilometres as hard as possible, hoping to blunt the speed of faster finishing rivals, most likely doing so by attacking on the final rise into Ans as he did in 2014 before crashing. His buildup to 2017 has been one of his most impressive in his career, but unfortunately for the Irishman, Valverde’s has been equally eye catching.

Sergio Henao‘s progress at the Ardennes classics has been hampered over the years by unfortunate injury and all the hassle surrounding his native blood values, but the Colombian rider finally looks en route to success in 2017. The Sky rider worked hard for teammate Michal Kwiatkowski during Amstel Gold and followed it up with a convincing fourth place atop the Mur de Huy at La Flèche Wallonne. He looks strong enough to follow all the right moves and possesses a faster sprint at the end of a race like this than many would expect.

Michal Kwiatkowski is the other option for Team Sky and forms a seriously strong two man attack alongside Henao for the British outfit at Liége – Bastogne – Liége. The former World Champion has one of the fastest sprint finishes for a race like this after Alejandro Valverde, however, it seems that his growing penchant for late attacks is the method which the Polish rider is most likely to utilise in order to secure his second monument victory of 2017.

Greg Van Avermaet will be eager to eke out every last watt of his incredible Spring form, lining up at La Doyenne with serious ambitions of challenging for the win. His consistency during the cobbled classics has been extremely impressive, but this contest is an entirely different affair altogether for the Belgian and it seems unlikely that this year’s Paris – Roubaix winner will also be champion of Liége – Bastogne – Liége. With nothing to lose and no real pressure upon his shoulders, Avermaet is a very dangerous rider in relation to the hopes of day’s bigger favourites and will demand the respect of typical Liége contenders; as the Belgian will punish anyone who gifts him too much freedom.

Michael Albasini has always performed well at one day races, yet at the age of 36, still lacks the palmarés to demonstrate his talents for these gruelling events. The Swiss rider was one of the few to benefit from the introduction of the short cobbled sector of Côte de la Rue Naniot during last year’s race, utilising it effectively to really put his rivals under the hammer and thus making Albasini one of the few riders to truly miss the sector this year. His strength this year should assure him of being in the mix once again, but it often feels a struggle to back Albasini over more successful riders when it matters most in a major race.

Warren Barguil continues to improve at the Ardennes and secured himself sixth place during Wednesday’s edition of La Flèche Wallonne despite a far from ideal run into the Mur de Huy. The combative Frenchman may be more synonymous with grand tour mountain stages, yet he also finished sixth at last year’s running of Liége – Bastogne – Liége, suggesting he does favour these longs days in the saddle with plenty of climbing. He appears to be the best bet for Team Sunweb, as Michael Matthews has not really displayed enough convincing form to suggest he can take the win in Ans.

Romain Bardet spoke recently of his love for this race and its importance to lithe limbed climbing specialists like himself; La Doyenne being their best hope of a monument victory. Bardet is an aggressive rider who appears to relish the intensity of these single day races, finishing second in 2011’s U23 edition of Liége and now possessing four top 15 finishes as a senior rider; two of which being top ten placings. Bardet’s best hopes of victory will come from attacking either on the final uphill section into Ans or going much earlier during the sequence of Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas. 

Other riders deserving of attention during the year’s fourth monument are Rui Costa, Alex HowesDylan TeunsTosh Van Der SandeSamuel SanchezJakob FuglsangEnrico GasparottoDiego UlissiRigoberto Uran and Tom Jelte-Slagter.

Outcome:

1st Romain Bardet 2nd Sergio Henao 3rd Dan Martin

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La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 16 Preview

Course:

The unexpected alliance on Stage 15 between Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana delivered more drama in a day than some recent grand tours have experienced in their entire three weeks. There is little chance of replicating such drama once again, but today’s 156.4km stage from Alcañiz to Peñiscola should provide an exciting finale as the sprinters attempt to seize upon a rare opportunity to take a win at this year’s Vuelta a España. Ascending gradually from the start, the road builds continually as it approaches the Category 3 Alto Castillo de Morella, a 3.4km ascent which averages a gradient of 5.2%. After this comes a long descent down to within less than 20km of the finish line, the riders required to navigate a series of roundabouts as they approach Peñiscola, followed by the final 1.3km long stretch along the coast which forms the day’s finishing straight.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 16 Preview

Contenders:

Fabio Felline was active once again yesterday and appears to be coping well with the high amount fatigue which the La Vuelta dishes out to all of the riders. He is now the best hope of a stage win for his team Trek-Segafredo and could rise to the top of the pile thanks to his freshness, despite not being one of the fastest men in contention for today’s win.

Gianni Meersman has been somewhat of a surprise at 2016’s race, already taking a couple of wins and still looking capable of adding to his haul in the final week or so of racing. Etixx-QuickStep are able to support him with a great deal of talent and shall be the strongest team in with a shout of victory by the time they reach Peñiscola. Meersman is the clear favourite for the win and it looks like many of his rivals here shall struggle to match the level of both him and his team.

Nikias Arndt usually emerges as one of the best sprinters towards the tail-end of stage races and is a great threat if his leadout is executed neatly at last. Having tried to conserve some of his energy as of late, Arndt is targeting this for more than simply featuring in the mix and GiantAlpecin are still confident he can win.

Kristian Sbaragli continues to grow in strength as the race’s attritional effect builds day by day, bringing the Dimension-Data rider further into contention on Stage 16. The latter half of today might not be the ideal terrain for Sbaragli to truly compete for victory, but freshness is crucial by this point of the race and he still possesses a good chance.

Magnus CortJonas Van Genechten and Tosh Van Der Sande are all names likely to fill the top ten placings in a bunch kick, though winning may just be beyond their grasp.

Outcome:

1st Fabio Felline 2nd Nikias Arndt 3rd Gianni Meersman

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 7 Preview

Course:

The task on Stage 7 of this year’s La Vuelta a España is a 158.5km trek from Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria, a tough day to control which offers very little in the way of flat terrain from start to finish. This short affair should prove to be another aggressive day in the saddle which sees many team’s eager to get a rider in the breakaway. A triumvirate of Category 3 ascents shall await the peloton en route to Stage 7’s finish, softening the legs ahead of a manic final 20km which appear poised to crown the winner of today. Once again at La Vuelta a España, it shall be difficult to choose whether to back the chances of the breakaway or an elite bunch kick, but a handful of names do stand clear of the rest.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 7 Preview

Contenders:

Fabio Felline was able to place on the podium once again at this year’s race and will be wondering what exactly he needs to do in order to walk away with a stage win from this opening week. The Trek-Segafredo rider appears to be in fantastic condition right now and there should be a good chance of him matching the strongest in today’s final 20km, before then outsprinting them at the finish.

Alejandro Valverde once again appears to be the most well-suited rider in the peloton in order to contest the finish of Stage 7. The Spanish veteran has support in the way of José Joaquín Rojas and Daniel Moreno and shall subsequently feel confident of possessing a strong leadout in the decisive finale of today’s stage. The attritional nature of Stage 7 should play into his hands and there is a strong chance that Movistar will be looking to set him up for the stage finish once they crest the final summit.

Samuel Sanchez will surely be eager to seize upon what appears to be some fantastic form in the twilight of his career. BMC worked hard on Stage 6 and are clearly interested in picking up a stage win while defending the red jersey of team leader Darwin Atapuma. Normally this would be a golden opportunity for Sanchez to make the day’s move and then push onwards to a stage victory via a reduced bunch kick. However, his recent performances have now forced him further up the general classification and could subsequently find himself closely tethered to the peloton.

Philippe Gilbert could prove the ideal alternative for BMC in the case of Sanchez finding his efforts stifled on Stage 7. The former world champion and Belgian hero has a strong chance of featuring here on paper, but his performances so far at La Vuelta a España have done little to suggest he will really threaten those already in good form.

Tosh van der Sande is riding himself into some good form and could well challenge for the win here, though a slight uphill drag to the line may make it difficult to outperform the likes of those mentioned above who are bound to find the terrain more preferable.

Others well worth keeping an eye upon during the day are; Simon Clarke, Kristian Sbaragli and Nikias Arndt.

Outcome:

1st Fabio Felline 2nd Alejandro Valverde 3rd Philippe Gilbert

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La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 2 Preview

Course:

Though this year’s edition lacks the top ranking sprinters of other grand tours, the 160.8km trip from Ourense Capital Termal to Baiona should bring the small pack of fast finishers to the fore on day two. The majority of the day is flat, but the Category 3 Alto de Fontefria shall look to break up the day’s riding somewhat; even though the gradient struggles to exceed 5% for the majority. The decisive kilometres to the line are populated by roundabouts and other tricky road furniture, after which the sprinters shall have more than a kilometre to the line to truly put the power down and contest the win.  La Vuelta a España - Stage 1 PreviewContenders:

Niccolo Bonifazio is a stand out contender for stage honours on the second day, as the Italian seeks to increase his tally of major career wins in 2016. As ever, his team Trek-Segafredo have assembled a team which shall not struggle to meet the demands of leading Bonifazio out and shall be confident of securing at least a podium spot on Stage 2.

Kristian Sbaragli is an extremely talented finisher, one who could challenge for the win today and subsequently begin his campaign upon the points jersey. An attritional race would improve his hopes of winning here, but it remains a big test as to whether or not he can beat rivals typically faster than him so early on in the race.

Nikias Arndt should be poised to capitalise on this type of opportunity and demonstrate the level he can perform at when given the chance to lead the team’s sprinting hopes. He appears to be fresh heading into the race and has a strong support team for the leadout who will be encouraged to ride aggressively during the final kilometres into the finish,

Beyond those mentioned above, there are an array of teams who shall all seek to secure a victory early on at this year’s edition of La Vuelta a España. Tosh van der SandeGianni Meersman and Jose Joaquin Rojas all have the potential to steal the win here, making them dangerous riders who will need watching by the bigger name sprinters’ teams.

 Outcome:

1st Niccolo Bonifazio 2nd Tosh van der Sande 3rd Nikias Arndt

La Vuelta a España – Stage 21 Preview

Course:

As ever, the remedy to three weeks of unpredictable racing at La Vuelta a España is the expected final hosted in Spain’s capital city of Madrid. Considering the longest stage of this year’s race clocked in at 215km, today’s 97.8km charge to and around the city will surely seem like a blink of the eye for many 0f the riders here. Having rolled out from the start in the Madrid suburbs of Alcala de Henares, the usual steady parade of processioning teams and riders will gently approach the capital and cross the finish for the first time after 39.8km.

From here they will begin the first of 10 laps which comprise the day’s finale, each pass taking them along the 5.9km pan flat route as the speed and intensity ratchets up lap upon lap. Little has changed about these finishing circuits in recent years and the riders should be well aware of the technical challenges on each lap which includes a pair of tight 90-degree bends and a trio of complete U-turns. Having exited the last lap’s final turn, the bunch will stream immediately under the flamme rouge and have an unobstructed (slightly uphill) run to Plaza Cibeles’s finish line.

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-21

Contenders:

John Degenkolb has experienced somewhat of a nightmare in the sprints during this year’s La Vuelta a España, but he will return as the favourite to win on the final day regardless. The German is likely to be the freshest of many of the sprinters who are also targeting a victory today, but it is his team which really inflates his chances of wining here. Luka Mezgec and Koen De Kort are both crucial to the success of his sprint today and each man has looked in great condition throughout this final week of the tour. Ultimately, the biggest doubt against Giant-Alpecin and Degenkolb is the possibility that the team may already have cooked themselves heading into today as a consequence of doing their utmost trying to defend Tom Dumoulin’s lead.

Danny Van Poppel produced a fantastic sprint on Stage 12 and could once again emerge as the biggest threat to John Degenkolb’s hopes of winning here. The Dutchman has a fantastic turn of speed and will have a full team at his disposal who have not had to dig a great deal during the final ten days of this grand tour. Of his support still present at the race, he might lack a certain level of brute strength to keep him at the front of the bunch heading into the final kilometres. This might not prove crucial however, as he was already lacking both Fabian Cancellara and Jasper Stuyven when he took his victory on Stage 12 and Van Poppel still looks fresh enough to challenge here.

Alejandro Valverde knows that a good placing in the sprint today will likely win him the points jersey from Joaquim Rodriguez. The Movistar rider’s turn of pace is well documented and there is little doubt to suggest that himself and the team will shy away from this opportunity to leave this year’s Vuelta with a jersey in the bag.

Tosh Van Der Sande has been a surprisingly consistent rider in the sprints at this year’s race, an unexpected factor for a man who usually only flourishes on the real tough days and stage finishes. On paper he should not be able to challenge for the win today, but given the attritional nature of a grand tour, he could find himself being brought into contention greater than expected.

Jempy Drucker is another rider who has performed incredibly consistently throughout the race and has demonstrated a strong enough turn of speed to push the bigger name sprinters right to the line. He is unlikely to have invested much in the way of effort during this final week of the race and he has a strong chance of getting onto the podium today; if not more.

Tom Van Asbroeck will have a great deal of power offered to him on the final stage in an attempt to win the stage for himself and LottoNL-Jumbo, a team who have not experienced a great deal of success at the race this year. Though like several of the sprinters here, he has lost a few men who would have contributed to his leadout today, but if they pick up the chase later than usual, Asbroeck will still have a great chance of winning Stage 21. The subtle drag to the finish line is perhaps the most favourable factor of today’s finish and this could be the reason why we see a shock result in Madrid.

 

Outcome:

1st John Degenkolb 2nd Tom Van Asbroeck 3rd Danny Van Poppel

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-19

La Vuelta a España – Stage 19 Preview

Course:

This year’s La Vuelta a España is running out of opportunities for the teams and their riders to strike it lucky with a win and Stage 19 will no doubt instigate a frantic start as most of the peloton attempt to make their way into the day’s breakaway. Around 90km of ever so slightly rising roads will make it difficult for a move to establish itself once the bunch are on the road, but expect the size of the eventual group to be large, perhaps between 15 – 25 riders as team’s attempt to make their presence here worthwhile.

Medina del Campo will host the riders’ departure point for Stage 19 and set them on their way to the 186.8km journey to the day’s finish in Ávila. Building steadily from the off, it will not be until the 92km marker where the bunch will finally face a significant feature of the day’s profile; the Category 3 Alto de Valdelavía. A simple enough ascent which lasts 13km and averages out with a gradient of 2.7%, it will fail to impact upon the day’s outcome. From the summit, the bunch will drop down into the valley via a gradual descent, before beginning to climb yet again 35km from the finish in Ávila. 

Once the intermediate sprint is tackled by 158km, the day’s concluding descent begins immediately, maxing out just shy of 20km from home. The climb of Alto de la Paramera is a total of 8.7km and averages a manageable gradient of 4.5%, an ascent which could act as a springboard for those in the breakaway who will reach this climb first. Though there is still everything to play for in regards to the Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru dynamic, it seems more likely both shall keep their powder dry ahead of what is bound to be the more pivotal Stage 20. This means the escapees should be allowed to maintain their advantage into Ávila, where an uphill finish and cobble roads are set to make this conclusion just a little tougher still.

 

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-19

Contenders:

Alejandro Valverde will be the favourite to win if the breakaway capitulates late on in the day, the Spanish rider suiting this finale well and will certainly jump on the chance to add to his stage haul at this year’s La Vuelta a España. A man who performs well at the Ardennes and possesses a potent turn of pace, it is easy to see him dominating on the cobbled climb which precedes the finish.

Giovanni Visconti was a well backed rider to find success in yesterday’s breakaway, but sadly he struggled to identity the right move and consequently spent the day back in the bunch. Movistar will lean upon him once again today and request he does his utmost to make the cut on this occasion. With a limited amount of climbing and a finish which should favour those with a fair sprint capability, Visconti suits the requirements of Stage 19 well.

Stephen Cummings is still riding strong at the tail-end of this grand tour and he should be watched in the formative moments of the race as the breakaway attempts to establish its composition. Though absent from the previous day’s moves, Cummings will be the best card to play for MTN-Qhubeka and should be considered a danger man on a day which favours the breakaway’s chances of staying away to the line.

Alessandro De Marchi is another such breakaway specialist who has ridden impressively throughout La Vuelta, securing himself a stage win along the way. Today is perhaps not as tough as the terrain which usually draws the Italian out into a successful move, but at this point in the race it comes down more to condition than simply relevant talents; making him an ideal confederate to have amongst the break’s ranks.

Simon Gerrans was highlighted to make himself known on yesterday’s stage as a way of testing his condition ahead of this year’s World Championship Road Race, but this failed to materialise. Stage 19 is the last opportunity he will have to attempt such an exercise and the finale does suit the Australian quite well. The amount of climbing is unlikely to prove problematic for Gerrans, and with the cobbled hill coming a little way before the line, he could definitely challenge for the win.

Geraint Thomas might be tasked with getting into the day’s move, Sky no doubt eager to capitalise once again in the breakaway and avoid having to commit anything to the chase beyond protecting Mikel Nieve’s general classification position. Given their success yesterday however, they might be content with calling it quits at this year’s Vuelta and enter Madrid feeling a little fresher. The Welshman enjoyed an impressive Spring campaign this season and it is easy to see today’s late mixture of ‘hellingen’ and cobbles catching his eye.

José Joaquín Rojas could well feel a bit cooked after his exploits in the previous day’s breakaway, but he has ridden very strongly throughout the race and it is hard to see him call it a day with Stage 19 being such a good fit for him. Rojas will be a tough adversary amongst any group which contests the finale, and with the added drag to the line, it all adds up to a very enticing stage for the Spaniard.

Adam Hansen will be a man fancied to feature today, his reputation for a long breakaway preceding him, while the Australian is also known for utilising his brute strength to power through these final days of a grand tour. Of course, like Rojas, he did work hard on the previous stage and could decide that his hopes of another stage win at La Vuelta a España will have to wait until next year’s edition.

Julien Simon might choose to have one last attempt at picking up a stage win for his team Cofidis at 2015’s La Vuelta during today. The Frenchman has already taken three top ten placings, including a runner up spot on Stage 13 behind Nelson Oliveira and may emerge once again at the final time of asking. The uphill sections into the finish should not discourage him either, factoring in his sprinting ability, Simon actually suits today well if he can join the right move.

Rinaldo NocentiniNelson OliveiraTosh Van Der Sande and Moreno Moser all warrant a passing mention as those who could bolster the ranks of a decisive breakaway.

The ongoing Tom Dumoulin versus Fabio Aru battle also deserves a few words here, as it is possible that we may witness more activity than we expect between the two on Stage 19. The climbs do not really suit Aru, and given their nature, Dumoulin should not struggle to pace his way up them with the Italian safely in sight. However, the finale which includes a cobbled climb and rising roads in the last 2km, could prove advantageous for Dumoulin to actually take more time from Aru. The Dutchman performs strongly on these short, sharp climbs and could certainly put down the power in order to add a couple of seconds to his current lead.

Outcome:

1st Giovanni Visconti 2nd Adam Hansen 3rd Geraint Thomas

Outsider: Alejandro Valverde

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-13

La Vuelta a España – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

As the peloton closes in on the two week mark of this year’s Vuelta a España, the impetus to chase down moves on a day such as this (which lacks general classification importance and enough committed sprinters’ team), should leave Stage 13 perfect for the breakaway to take it all the way to the line. The day’s 177km journey from Calatayud to Tarazona offering up considerably rolling terrain which will favour a well drilled breakaway group, rather than the more cumbersome peloton and its sprinters. The riders begin climbing a short ascent immediately from the start, but really the opening 30km are predominately downhill or gently rolling. From here they begin heading upwards to and begin the first of two consecutive categorised climbs, the Category 3 Alto Collado de Oseja (8.2km avg 3.7%) which drags upwards to the following task.

The Category 1 Alto de Beraton (10.9km avg 4.7%) will be another slog, who’s beginning was only momentarily interrupted by several kilometres of downhill respite. After the summit, life becomes a lot easier as a long and steady descent takes them to the start of the day’s final climb with 135km having been completed. Only the Category 3 Alto del Moncayo (8.5km, avg 4.5%) will now separate the frontrunners from the finish line, a simple enough challenge which should be tackled at a steady pace considering its modest gradient. It is nearly downhill all the way to the line from the summit of this last climb, though the road does kick upwards with around 5km left to ride, but the finish is ultimately flat and free of obstacles.

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-13

La-Vuelta-A-España-2015-Stage-13

Contenders:

Jens Keukeleire has the required skill set to perform convincingly here on Stage 13, the Belgian rider looking comfortable at La Vuelta when he has decided to go on the attack. Assuming he paces life in the breakaway well, he is bound to be the fastest man in a group which comes to the line together.

Gianluca Brambilla is eager to convert his efforts at the race so far into a stage victory, with today possibly offering him such an opportunity. Brambilla’s climbing has been very strong up to this point and he will no doubt survive the course if he targets the day, relying on his fantastic turn of speed to dominant the sprint from a large breakaway or to establish solo move late on.

Sylvain Chavanel is a habitual breakaway rider and there is a strong chance that he will feature in any move which tries to establish itself today. The Frenchman may be in his twilight years, but his racing nous and ability to calculate his efforts on the fly always mark the IAM Cycling rider out as a contender.

Alessandro De Marchi is another similarly breakaway obsessed rider and has already been quite active in that respect during the first half of this race. BMC are on the hunt for stage victories since their hopes of a general classification battle faded in the wake of Tejay Van Garderen and Stage 13 is an ideal springboard to allow De Marchi to attempt such a move.

Ruben Plaza is once again in a similar mould as to the previous couple of riders mentioned above and has demonstrated his strength in the break on several occasions during La Vuelta already. Victory has slipped from his fingers on these previous attempts, but there is no reason to rule him out of contention here because of these failings.

José Joaquín Rojas possesses a great blend of sprinting ability and climbing strength, a deadly combination on a day such as this which is so suited to the breakaway. Should he choose to join a move, it will be difficult to drop him and subsequently earmark him as the favourite to win a reduced sprint. Even if he decides he is better off hiding in the peloton all day in an attempt to conserve his energy, Rojas remains one of the biggest threats to a rider such as John Degenkolb in a bigger bunch kick.

Tosh Van Der Sande has been riding extremely impressively so far and warrants inclusion here as a possible breakaway or sprint contender. His strength will catch many by surprise right now and underestimating him here could prove a costly error.

Stephen Cummings has demonstrated his affinity for breakaways throughout two grand tours this year and Stage 13 will certainly catch his eye as an opportunity to take another win. The power which he provides such a move with is always welcomed by other riders, but he will have to go it alone at the perfect moment to stand a chance of winning upon today’s finish.

Outcome:

1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd José Joaquín Rojas 3rd Alessandro De Marchi