Tour of Britain 2018 – Overall Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Britain 2018 – Overall Preview

By David Hunter

With the Vuelta keeping us happy, we can’t forget about this tough week of racing. The organisers often change how demanding this race is, to align with the World Championships. This year we have a tough looking route, perfect for those preparing for Innsbruck.

Route

Stage 1

The week opens with a sprint stage, but it does have a demanding kicker with just 8km remaining. This is cruel for the sprinters, as 800m at 9.3% is enough to drop most of them. If the GC boys want to, the finish could be very selective.

Stage 2

Another day that will be classified as a sprint stage, but it looks tough for some of the quicks. We have three categorised climbs, but many unclassified lumps along the way. The final climb of 1.9km at 8.8%, or 1.3km at 13%, crests with around 20km remaining, meaning we could get a reduced sprint.

Stage 3

The third stage finishes in Bristol and is a demanding finish. Not only do we have 1km at 8% with 7.5km remaining, but the unclassified kick with 4km to go is equally challenging.

Stage 4

The sprinters will be delighted to see this stage! This should be the first full sprint of the week.

Stage 5

This is filed in the weird section. We have a 14km TTT, which finishes with a lovely hill. Not quite sure what the organisers were thinking, but it’s sure to be entertaining.

Stage 6

The Queen stage, again finishing on Whinlatter Pass. The riders will have seen this the previous day, but now they climb it from the harder side.

Stage 7

With the GC settled, I sniff a chance for the breakaway riders with plenty of rolling terrain to put off the sprint teams.

Stage 8

The race ends with the usual circuit race through the streets of London.

View From The Bunch

I thought it would be nice to focus on two of the British riders, but at different points in their career. Here’s what Hugh Carthy of EF Drapac had to say about the forthcoming race.

5th in Utah and 3rd in Colorado. Did you achieve what you wanted to out of your American trip?

“I think the trip went well, yes. The heat and altitude make the racing tough so I was happy to be at the head of the race most days.”

Does returning to race on “home” roads give you extra motivation?

“A few years ago when I was a teenager, the Tour of Britain was my big objective all season long. I became obsessed with racing it. Although it’s not the biggest race on my calendar, it’s nice to go back to where I’m from and race with home riders that I grew up racing with. It will always have a big appeal.”

The TTT and next stage both finish on Whilatter Pass and will determine the shape of the GC. It’s not too far from Preston, is it a climb you know?

“It’s not a climb I know personally. I have looked online at the profiles and maps and spoken to people who have ridden it. It’s going to be a key point in the week so knowledge of the area will be important.”

Stages 1, 2 and 3 all have short/steep climbs near the finish. Positioning will be key, just how good is it to have riders like Breschel and Phinney in the team?

“I’ve raced with Matti and Taylor a few times this season and have been lucky enough at times for them to help me out. It’s eye opening to follow such experienced and calm riders. Their skills in the peloton that they probably take for granted are a massive benefit to skinny climbers like myself.”

Without piling too much pressure on yourself, what do you hope to achieve in the race?

“Who knows how the race will go. A lot of top riders are provisionally down to race. Ideally not lose any time in the first few stages then see how we do in the TTT and hill top finish.” 

Max Stedman is an up and coming climber, who rides for Canyon Eisberg. Max is just starting to find his way in the pro peloton, but he’s a rider you should take notice of.

This is your first Tour of Britain. What are you expecting?

“I’m really not sure, it’s probably gonna be pretty damn hard looking at the startlist, 3 of the top 4 for from the Tour and Roglic is easily the best bike rider over week long stage races this year! Every rider will have an ideology in their head about what they want from the race and I’m no different, Tim our team manager DS and myself are looking to go all in for a GC result.”

Do you know any of the finishes?

I’ve looked at 4 and quarter of the stages already (2,3,4,5,6) so you could say I’m prepared haha. Stage 2 in Devon has a nasty 13% K long climb about 16k to go, I could see a small group sprint that day as it’s a fast run in to the finish. Stage 3, around Bristol and Somerset, has a two 1K long climbs within the last 8k, with no downhill after the second as its straight onto the Clifton Downs, so I imagine it’ll be anaerobic to the eyeballs from the climb to the finish. So after stage 3 the strong GC riders will be coming to the fore. Stage 4 into Leamington Spa is pretty straight forward run in, I can see the first pure bunch sprint coming on this stage, unless a team decides to drop the hammer on a few of the steep climbs with 50 odd K to go. The finish of the TTT isn’t overly bad, there’s quite a steep bit in the middle part of the climb, but apart from that it’s pretty draggy up to Whinlatter. I only recce’d the last 30k of stage 6 with the team and there are some heavy roads on the run to the steeper side of Whinlatter, and I’ve heard from a team mate it’s pretty tough going throughout the stage. It says the climb is 3k at 7% but I reckon that’s a bit skewed, the bottom is pretty steep and it drags over the top.”

You enjoyed a day in the break in the Tour of Yorkshire, finishing 2nd in the KOM category. Will you look for the breaks or try and aim for a solid GC result?

“A GC result wise would be great for me, although, I do enjoy going for the breaks and I love getting involved in that sort of aggressive racing. But I’ve got the backing from my team mates and Tim to go for a GC result and it’s a good chance to test myself against some of the worlds best.”

What do you think about the TTT? The team can’t have done many.

“It’ll be very interesting, I don’t think we’ve done a TTT this season as a team, and this isn’t a very straightforward one to start with, haha. It’ll be good to see what tactics each team goes for as it’s almost two different TT courses within 14k. I don’t think there’s been an uphill TTT like this in a UCI race for a while?! I might be wrong.”

What would be a good week for you and the team?

“As a conti team we will be searching for those breakaways for the publicity it gives you, and with that it gives the team a chance to go for the sprints and KoM jerseys. Overall if we can get a good GC result say 10th – 20th, a couple of good stage results, and some good showings in the breakaways, maybe a jersey win or even a day or two in a jersey, then I think we could class the race as big success for Canyon Eisberg. But obviously it rarely goes perfectly in cycling, so we’ll see.”

Contenders

Team Sky – riding in their home race, you can bet that Team Sky want to win the GC. They arrive with Froome and Thomas, both of whom are looking to build up towards the World Championships. I don’t see either rider challenging for the overall, instead, the team will look towards Wout Poels. After doing the Giro and Tour, the Dutchman hasn’t raced since. His form is unknown, but as he rarely gets leadership opportunities, expect him to seize this opportunity.

Primož Roglič – after a brilliant Tour de France, he headed to San Sebastian with high hopes, but was involved in the horrible crash which ended the day for many riders. He’s been unable to train on his TT bike since that point, which could put you off backing him in this race, but it shouldn’t. The TTT will be on a road bike, something he has been able to ride. Roglič is mainly here to prepare for the Worlds, but he won’t pass up any opportunities.

Rubén Fernández – after a disappointing season, it was good to see the Spaniard return to form in the recent Deutschland Tour. Fernández is a sensational climber, but he’s had to endure a couple of lean years. I’m a big fan, hopefully he can enjoy a good week.

Hugh Carthy – 5th in Utah and 3rd in Colorado, it’s safe to say that he enjoyed his recent spell in America. Carthy lines up in his home race with a motivated squad, who will hopefully be able to help him in his GC push. The TTT is a concern for me, hopefully they can limit losses and keep Carthy in with a shout of challenging for the podium.

Stefan Küng – it will be interesting to see how BMC do in the TTT. If they smash it, it will give Küng a chance of holding on to claim the GC. He will come under huge pressure during the Queen stage, but the final climb is only 4km long, something that will give him hope.

Quick-Step – another team that arrive with a strong squad. They have Alaphilippe and Jungels, both of whom haven’t raced since San Sebastian, so I expect them to be looking to build their form. That should leave Max Schachmann as the team leader, especially after a strong showing in the Deutschland Tour. The 24 year old is developing into a fine rider and he’ll be looking to challenge for the overall win.

Prediction Time

The TTT will have a large impact on the race, but how much of a gap will there be between the big teams? With the opening three stages potentially becoming GC days, picking up bonus seconds will be hugely important, but most of the favourites lack a sprint. This makes life very difficult for me! Given current form, I think that Max Schachmann will take the win, but it will be close.

David HunterFollow us on @CiclismoInterJoin us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional

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