Tour of Britain 2018 – Stage 1 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Britain 2018 – Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Pembrey Country Park – Newport 176km

The race begins with a tricky looking stage in Wales.

The main issue for the riders to worry about is the final climb, which is 800m at 9.3%. This crests with just 8km remaining and is bound to see some attacks.

Sprinter Stage?

All depends on the speed the bunch take the climb. 800m isn’t very long, which will give the sprinters some hope. Positioning going into the climb will be very important, as the roads are incredibly narrow. If a sprinter starts the climb at the front, they should have enough sliding room to remain in the bunch.

Weather

Early rain should drift away before the peloton starts the day. It will be cloudy with  temperatures around 20 degrees.

Breakaway Hopes

When the opening stage of a race isn’t a nailed on sprint, it increases the chances for the attackers. The final sprint comes with 21km to go, which adds to the uncertainty for the bunch. They’ll be reluctant to bring the break back and gift bonus seconds to a GC man. The climb comes just 13km after the sprint, meaning timing the catch will be tough.

Finale

The end of the stage is on wide roads, which is good news for the sprinters. The only issue is the roundabout with around 800m to go. The map suggests only the right hand side will be open, which is actually the longer side. This is a big pinch point, as riders can’t take it at full speed. If you are too far back, you won’t win the sprint.

Contenders

Caleb Ewan – riding in his final race for Mitchelton-Scott, the Aussie will be keen to end on a high. Ewan is decent on short hills, I think he’ll be quietly confident of making it over with the front group. He was close to success in the Binck Bank Tour and he starts the stage as one of the big favourites.

Jürgen Roelandts – not a pure sprinter, but does survive the climbs well. If the GC riders decide to make the climb difficult, it will be good news for the Belgian. Only a crash stopped him from taking a stage in the recent Deutschland Tour.

Fernando Gaviria – current form isn’t very good. He pulled out of the break in the Great War Remembrance Race and that abandoned Plouay thanks to a sore knee. If he’s managed to recovery, he’ll like the look of this stage. The Colombian is fast, but he can also climb well.

Edward Theuns – about time he had a chance to sprint. The talented Belgian likes tough sprint stages and this should be a good day for him. He won’t be scared of the climb, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him crest at the very front of the group. We might even see a bold attack from the Sunweb man.

Andre Greipel – not been very well recently, this finish is probably going to be too tough for him.

Dion Smith – after going well in the Tour de France, the Kiwi rider performed well in the Binck Bank Tour. Going into this stage, Wanty have him and Andrea Pasqualon as sprint options. The Italian is faster, but Smith is the one with the form.

Julian Alaphilippe – if we get attacks on the climb and a reduced bunch sprint, Alaphilippe will be the big favourite. He’s not competed since winning San Sebastian, so it’s hard to tell what his form will be like.

Connor Swift – breakaway pick number 1.

Mark McNally – breakaway pick number 2.

Prediction Time

It will be interesting to see if any of the GC riders attack on the final climb, that would make things very interesting. Looking at the climb, it’s just a little bit on the short side to make the sprinters really struggle and I think we’ll see Caleb Ewan take the win.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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