By David Hunter
La Tour du Pin – Bourgeon Jallieu 23.5km ITT
It’s TT day.
The route begins with 3km at around 4%, then we have a section of flat before taking the long descent to Saint Savin. Next up is a 2km climb at 5%, before the 6km of mainly descending towards the finishing line. This is a course that will suit the TT specialists and some of those GC/TT riders.
Should be a dry day, with a constant wind coming from the south-west. That will make the last section towards home, a challenge, but the weather should remain equal for all riders.
Tony Martin – the German is the only true TT specialist in the field. 2016 was looking like a poor year for him, but he hit some serious form near the end, winning his 4th world title. 2017 has been a bit of a slow burner too, it seems everything is being built around the Tour. It’s not everyday you get to try and win the yellow jersey in Germany. His defeat in the recent Tour of Belgium TT was a little surprising, but this stage is a real measure of his current form. Given the competition, anything but a win will look like failure.
Chris Froome – this day will have a big impact on the GC, Froome will be looking for a big ride. These days, he normally saves his best TT rides for the grand tours, but I would expect a very fast time from him. His last ITT win was in the 2016 Vuelta, it was a day where he destroyed everyone else. He was well beaten by Porte in Romandie, Froome needs to come out fighting!
Alberto Contador – after a spell of poor TT performances, Contador has returned to a high level. So far in 2017, he has completed three ITTs and finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The ITTs in the Tour de France will have a large impact on the outcome of the race, rumour is that Contador has been working hard on his TT bike! How he measures up to Froome and Porte will be very important, with the Tour only weeks away.
Ramunas Navardauskas – not a massive TT specialist, but he did win the TT in Vuelta San Juan, back in January. Due to a lack of TT riders in this race, he has a good chance of finishing in the top 5, or maybe even challenging for the podium.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – the Norwegian has always been a talented rider against the clock, but never quite fulfilled his potential. This season has hinted at some progression, with 8th in Algarve and 7th in Tirreno. Given his current form, he has a good chance of causing an upset in this stage. A podium spot would be a realistic goal.
Richie Porte – the Aussie is having some season. His TT in Romandie was very impressive, even if he did lose out to Roglic. Porte is capable of huge performances in this discipline, but he finds it difficult to win flat TTs in world tour races. His previous big TT wins were on Col d’Eze, in Paris-Nice. After beating Froome in Romandie, he will hope for something similar here.
Alejandro Valverde – not always a fan of his TT bike, Valverde has taken some big steps forward this year. He did the TT in Andalucía and the Basque Country, finishing 2nd on both occasions. It will be fascinating to see if he can continue to do well in France, a country where his last top 10 in an ITT was back in 2013. Just like Contador, it is important he matches up well to Porte and Froome.
Should be a relatively easy win for Tony Martin. Expect to see Froome and Porte complete the podium.
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