By David Hunter
254.8km, yes, you heard me, 254.8km! This isn’t a little ride around the park, this is brutal. The length of the race, means, we will see an elimination race. Lap after lap, riders was abandon as the pace gets faster and faster.
No, the climbs aren’t hard but after 14 laps, they will make the legs hurt. The Mirador is where we’ll see the action, but when will we see it? Today, 4 women escaped, but refused to work together. This gives an indication of what could happen in this race.
I spoke with an Australian rider(no I’m not telling you who it was) today and they gave me some surprising information. First of all, they won’t ride on the front, all day. They will set tempo, at the start of the race, but don’t expect a repeat of the under 23 race.
Simon Gerrans is their plan A, but Matthews is plan D! They don’t want to ride for a sprint and Gerrans will attack. If he doesn’t get away, plan B is Simon Clarke and Cadel Evans is plan C. If all else fails, then Matthews gets his chance.
Both Spain and Italy don’t want a sprint, either. They will ride very fast and attack constantly. This will greatly reduce the size of the peloton, and eliminate the sprinters. It looks like a sprinter friendly course, but it isn’t. I don’t see any of them making the finish, apart from Sagan.
A poor season for Sagan, he only won the Green jersey and E3! This is his time to shine. Yes, he has few teammates but he should be able to tag onto another team and ride a good race. His ability to explode on a hill and descend like a stone, will see him go very well.
In the same boat is Cancellara. If anyone deserves to be World Champion, it’s him. The best of his generation, I would be delighted to see Fabain, finally pull on the rainbow jersey.
Add in Gilbert, Boonen, Valverde, GVA, Martin, Nibali, Kwiatkowski, Rui Costa and Chavanel and you see the quality of the field.
Unlike the other races, I expect the attacks to start early. The big countries will make the early part of the race very difficult. The want to get after the sprinters and won’t wait till later. The reduced peloton will make it easier for a break to succeed. I think we’ll see a crucial selection, with 40km to go. This, small group, will gradually dwindle until the final climb. We will then, get the decisive move.
Remember, the Spanish had their national championships on this course. Valverde, allowed Izagirre to win, he knows this course well. This is his last chance to win the rainbow jersey and he wants it! He can attack on the climb, or on the descent. Valverde is a massive danger.
Most riders have compared the course to LBL, so who goes well there? Gerrans, Valverde, Kwiatkowski, Martin, Caruso, Slagter, Gilbert, Moreno, Bardet, Vanendert, Rodriguez, Costa, Nibali, Mollema and Evans. All of these guys have a chance. That’s the beauty of this race.
The races have been a bit boring, so far. I expect, the men to save the day! Attacks from the start, a gruelling battle of strength, before a gladiator takes the title. Don’t miss this race!
I have a big concern about the corner before the dam. We could get rain tomorrow, I really hope we don’t. That corner is very, very dangerous. Hopefully, it doesn’t feature.
Sprinters go home! This is one for the GC boys, and Sagan! An elite group will establish themselves with 40km to go. This will include the big riders, from the big countries. On the final climb, it will be Sagan to put in the killer move and get clear. Once away, they won’t catch him on the descent. He might even get a little bit of help from the Danish team(all Tinkoff riders!).
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