By David Hunter
The racing continues in the US, with the 4th running of this race. In 2013, it was Tejay Van Garderen who continued the trend of the race being won by an American. He returns to defend his crown.
Stage 1 is a rerun of stage 1 from 2013, where Peter Sagan won. At only 98km it’s a very short start to the week.
In the sprint stages, Elia Viviani, is the standout rider. From the American teams, we should see Kiel Reijnen and Jure Kocjan go well, after their good performance in the Tour of Utah. Also capable of getting on the podium is Jonathan Cantwell of Drapac and Ryan Anderson of Optum. Viviani will be very motivated as Cannondale always like to put on a show in America. He is far quicker than the other sprints and crucially the other WT teams, don’t come with a sprinter. Tinkoff do have Michael Morkov. Technically, not a sprinter, he did take a sprint win in the 2013 Vuelta. It will be interesting to see how fast Morkov is, compared to the riders from the smaller teams. Only the first and last stage, look like being sprints. Viviani is a solid climber, so he’ll be at the finish on those days. Slovenian, Jure Kocjan, impressed in Utah. He took 3 second places and the points jersey. It will be difficult for him to get onto the top step of the podium.
The GC battle will be between Van Garderen, Danielson, Majka, Rogers, Zoidl, Schleck, Acevedo, Hermans and Konig.
Danielson, just won in Utah, and looked in brilliant form.
Majka, just won in Poland, but he must be getting tired.
Ziodl was solid in Utah, without being great. He should go better here.
Konig, Rogers and Van Garderen were good in the Tour, but haven’t raced since, apart from San Sebastian for Rogers and Tejay.
Hermans and Acevedo will be expected to ride for their team leader but will be ready to pounce, if they falter.
We have some talented riders, appearing for some of the smaller teams. They will hope to spring a surprise or too. They are:-
Euser, Bolivar, Norris, Rosskopf, Carpenter, Carthy, Jones, Jaramillo, Routley and Oram.
Both Rosskopf and Carpenter impressed in Utah, with their breakaway skills. Rosskopf went on to claim the KOM jersey and was a close second to Cadel Evans on stage 6. This performance caught the eye of a number of larger teams, expect him to be riding with a bigger team in 2015.
Will Routley took a brilliant stage win in California. He’s got a very fast kick and is another aggressive rider. The breaks should be fun to watch!
Hugh Carthy is only 20 years old and rides for Rapha Condor JLT. He won the Tour of Korea, in June. He was 6th in the Mzansi Tour, where MTN dominated the GC and was also 6th in the Tour of Japan. He is a massive talent for the future and I hope to see him go well here.
Clement Chevrier, who did a great job on debut for Trek, in Utah, will be riding for Bissell Development. He has signed for Trek, but they have allowed him to ride this race for his old team.
Riding his first race for NetApp is Patrick Konrad. The Austrian is a sensational talent and I can’t wait to see how he performs in this race.
The crucial stages for the GC are stages 3, 5 and 6. The mountaintop finish, stage 3, is a long climb. It rises for 30km at 3.5%, with the final 10km at 5.4%, and the last 5km at 6%. Altitude will play a part, as the climb crests at 3291 metres. A lot of the main riders were in Utah, so they will be accustomed to the altitude by now, but Konig wasn’t and he might suffer.
The climbs on stage 5 are short and very steep. Last year it was Peter Sagan who destroyed the peloton and only Van Garderen could follow.
The TT is fairly short but we usually see some big gaps between the GC riders. Most of the GC riders here can TT well.
I see the GC fight coming down to Van Garderen, Danielson and Zoidl. I think Tejay will make it two in a row.
Follow us in facebook https://www.facebook.com/CiclismoInternacionalLatinoamerica?fref=ts … or Twitter @CiclismoInter