By David Hunter
Glenelg – Victor Harbor 120km
Another day for the sprinters.
With the next couple of stages for the GC riders, the sprinters will be eager to test their legs. The rolling finish increases the difficulty level, but we should still have a bunch kick. Stage 1 showed that some of the sprint trains are looking better than others, but some of the quick men seem a little rusty, it is January after all.
The lap circuit isn’t the easiest. It features two short, but punchy climbs, and a very fast descent. Just outside the final kilometre, we have to tackle a narrow roundabout and inside the final kilometre we have a double turn. There are plenty of places for riders to lose positions and gaps could be possible, this will make the GC riders nervous.
The double turn inside the final kilometre is a crucial point for the sprinters. It is vital you are in the first ten positions, if you want any chance of sprinting for glory. That means teams who have a longer sprint train have a better chance of success. You need your men in positions 3 and 4 to be faster than the rest. That is good news for Bora and Quickstep.
The temperature continues to rise, with highs of 41 degrees. The wind could play a part in the stage, but speeds of 18km/h aren’t really strong enough for echelons. Due to the heat, the organisers have decided to shorten the stage by 26km. It means one lap of the closing circuit, instead of three.
Caleb Ewan – after a brilliant win in Stirling, the little Aussie is wearing the Ochre jersey. After two sprints that left him analysing his mistakes, he will have a lot more confidence for this sprint. I am a little worried about his sprint train, especially with this technical finish. They haven’t filled me with confidence, but they do know the finish and what it takes to win here.
Peter Sagan – was on lead out duties in Stirling and he might do more of it here. The technical finish is perfect for the world champion, but he is meant to be here to help teammates and get some racing in his legs. If he sprints, he’ll be challenging for the win.
Sam Bennett – the Irishman is yet to test himself in the sprints, thanks to starting the race recovering from a cold. After a few stages, he should be ready to compete for the win. Bennett enjoyed a wonderful 2017, but just couldn’t quite take that elusive Giro stage win. The Bora train is very impressive, especially if Sagan slots into the last man position. It would be good to see Bennett sprinting for the first time this week.
Andre Greipel – the German has enjoyed a terrific start to the season. He was close in the People’s Choice Classic and took an impressive win in the opening stage. The technical finish is not well suited to him, but his lead out train are experts at blocking corners and not allowing riders to get in front of them. His train is strong, but they lack some speed in positions 3 and 4, something that will hurt them in this finish.
Elia Viviani – QuickStep nailed the lead out in the opening stage, but Viviani just lacked a little speed. It was the opposite of the People’s Choice Classic, where they made a mess of the lead out, but Viviani finished like a train. If they deliver another great lead out, I have faith that Viviani will be faster than on Tuesday. With Morkov at number 3, they have a rider capable of putting them at the front of the race, just in time for the double corner.
Ewan will now have confidence, Sagan is looking good and Greipel already has a win. Despite all of this, I’m going with Viviani. I think QuickStep will put him not the best position and he’ll take his first win for the boys in blue.
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