By David Hunter
Stage 2 Recap
What a stage! It should have been a day for the sprinters, but Belkin had other ideas. They ripped the peloton apart, until a small group was left at the front. This group were to go on and fight out the stage victory. Behind this, Tom Dumoulin, had a mechanical and was over 1 minute behind the peloton. His team, with the help of a few cars, managed to get him back to the peloton, just in the nick of time. How he didn’t get a time penalty, I don’t know! Boom launched an attack with 2 km to go, but was marked by Stybar and Quinziato. Mollema then tried to lead out Boom, but it was Stybar who got onto his wheel and he sprinted home for the win, and 10 bonus seconds. Boom was second, with Vanmarcke third. A fantastic day of racing.
Stage 3 Breda – Breda 9.6km
At just 9.6km, this is a short TT. It won’t decide the winner of the race, but a bad day will end the hopes of some. It’s a fairly technical course, with 9 corners. The opening 2.6km allows the riders to get to top speed and hold it, before they hit the bottom section of the course. The bottom section of the course is nearly 5km and contains most of the corners. Good bike handling skills is important but being able to drive out of the corners is vital. The final 2.5km, again allows the riders to grind the big gear.
The weather forecast suggests a 10% chance of rain for the early starters, but 30% for later starters. If the GC riders get rain, it will really slow them down, considering the number of corners. The wind remains fairly constant throughout the day, but could change direction a little.
I love a TT stat and here’s one…. Fabian Cancellara hasn’t won an ITT this season! Surprised? I will take the bold move of discounting the great man, due to this and the fact he hasn’t won an ITT under 10km, since 2012.
The favourite for the stage has to be Tom Dumoulin. His TT form has been brilliant this year, both long and short. He has 1 win and 5 2nd places to his name this year. He was 2nd to Chavanel, in 2013, and most think this is his time. He did have to work hard today to return to the peloton, so there is an element of doubt.
Apart from him, we have some powerful riders: Dennis, Sergent, Hepburn, Terpstra, Thomas, Quinziato, Mouris, Dowsett, Cummings, Boom, Grivko, Navardauskas and Gilbert.
Some of these riders have already been active in the race and clearly on form. They are Thomas, Quinziato, Dowsett, Gilbert and Boom. Both Thomas and Dowsett are classical TT riders and obviously have a great chance of victory. Out of the two riders, Dowsett is the one with the better form, in short TTs.
Other riders that have appeared in my research are Gretsch, Grivko and Nizzolo. If I’m right and the course favours a sprinter, Nizzolo has a great chance. He was 4th in the Romandie prologue and should be able to post a fast time. He goes out early, so might take advantage of no rain.
I want to focus on Lars Boom. He is clearly in good form and highly motivated. In 2013, he had a bad day an finished in 10th place, 20 seconds behind Chavanel. It was enough to move him into yellow, but not good enough. I think this was a blip as his TT form is usually good. This year, he was 2nd in Qatar(10.9km), 1 second behind Hepburn. He was 6th in the Dauphine(10.4km), 12 seconds behind Froome. The Bianchi TT bike is not the best, but shouldn’t have such an impact over this distance. The constant acceleration, in the course, should also suit his style.
Hepburn started the season incredibly well but has really fallen away. I don’t see him contending for the stage.
Rohan Dennis is also interesting me. He’s out early, but the course doesn’t really suit him. He will, however, be highly motivated, since moving to his new team.
Dumoulin to win, Boom to go close and take yellow. But, if it rains and it favours the early starters, watch for Dennis, Gretsch and Nizzolo.
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