By David Hunter
The last World Tour race of 2014 and the last Tour of Beijing.
We have a more interesting route than 2013, with the introduction of a demanding and hilly day, on stage 3.
We should get sprints on stages 1, 2 and 5, with the GC getting decided on stages 3 and 4. This race comes with bonus seconds, these could decide the GC. The top riders will be eyeing up both stages 3 and 4, despite stage 3 looking great for a breakaway.
As it’s the last race of the season, each team has a mix of riders eager to prove themselves and those with 1 eye on the holiday season. One thing is for sure, steak will be off the menu!
All the teams are a good mix of sprinters, breakaway riders and GC specialists.
The big sprinters are: Appollonio, Hofland, Modolo, Boeckmans, Ewan, Mezgec, Swift and Danny Van Poppel. I personally can’t wait to see Caleb Ewan’s, long awaited, debut for Orica. I rate him very highly and he’ll be looking to win at least 1 stage. It’ll be hard as Modolo, Hofland and Mezgec are all fast!
We also have quite a few breakaway specialists: Lastras, Visconti, Cherel, Wurf, Roy, Haas, Hansen, Weening, Thurau, Vorobyev, Deignan and Boaro.
Challenging for the GC, should be: Nocentini, Sanchez, Van Garderen, Geniez, Dan Martin, Rui Costa, Intxausti, Uran, Chaves, Barguil, Chernetsky, Deignan, Lopez, Arredondo and Kiserlovski.
Being a fast sprinter is certainly an advantage with stage 3 and bonus seconds on the other stages, that means Rui Costa has a great chance. He was very strong in Lombardia, in fact, Sanchez or Gilbert would have won, if it hadn’t been for him. Free from the curse of the rainbow jersey, it was great to see him in the Lampre kit. The route looks perfect for him and he brings a strong team. He’ll have Polanc, Valls, Pozzato and Oliveira as help.
The defending champion is Benat Intxausti. Movistar had Rui Costa, Visconti and him, last year. They got their tactics spot on and it allowed Intxausti to win. He’ll find it much harder this year.
Dan Martin is another in good form. Fresh from a wonderful Il Lombardia, the Irishman is much better in 1 week races, compared to Grand Tours. He would prefer the climbing to be harder. The other issue is the massive effort required to win a monument. It takes it out of you, mentally and physically, so we’ll have to see what level he’s at.
Of the others, Chernetsky interests me. I’m a big fan of his and he’s in great form. He rode very well in Milano-Torino and could benefit from a little freedom as the bigger riders play games. He’s not a great sprinter, so will need to win on the Queen stage. Whether he’s quite ready for this, is debatable, but he should make the top 5.
Uran is still recovering injury. If he’s fit, he’ll have a massive part to play in the outcome of the race.
Nocentini is in good form and the final climb is within his capabilities. At 37 years old, this will be his last chance to win a race of this stature.
Having multiple options worked for Movistar, last year. BMC arrive with Sanchez and Van Garderen. This could be a big help, on the Queen stage. Sanchez is another in good form and will try to seize a rare opportunity, in the BMC jersey.
Rui Costa for me. Form looks great and he has a good chance of taking some crucial bonus seconds, in the opening stages.
Follow us in facebook https://www.facebook.com/CiclismoInternacionalLatinoamerica?fref=ts … or Twitter @CiclismoInter