By David Hunter
Roanne 26.1km ITT
This day will have a huge impact on the fight for the yellow jersey. A 26km ITT means we could see some GC riders lose almost 2 minutes and kiss goodbye to any hope of winning the race. The good news for the little climbers is that much of the opening 11.5km goes uphill, which they’ll be pleased about.
The day begins with 5km of flat, then the riders hit this hill. 3.9km at 2.7% isn’t hard, but going up any hill is tough on a TT bike. Once over the top, the riders only have 600m of flat before the next hill.
2.3km at 7.8%, this is a much harder effort. Some riders will be pleased it’s only 2.3km, but it will be a crucial part of the stage. A fast descent follows, before a flat run for home.
Should be dry, but the problem is the wind. Much of the opening 10km will be a strong headwind, which will make pacing your effort quite difficult. Most forecasts suggest the wind strength will be consistent for all riders, but a strong headwind is awful news for the little climbers.
Tom Dumoulin – jumped away in Monday’s break, looking to test his legs and condition. Remember that Dumoulin crashed on 14th May, having to quit the Giro due to a nasty looking knee injury. A period off the bike followed, before he returned to training. If he was 100%, the Dutch rider would start as the huge favourite, but there are questions surrounding his current form and fitness. It’s one of those days where we’ll just have to wait and see what sort of time he can post.
Chris Froome – this is a wonderful looking route for the Ineos man. The climbing section will allow him to settle into his aero position and put down the hammer. He’ll also enjoy the descending, an area that he has massively improved over the past couple of years. Froome knows this is a big test ahead of the Tour de France, and he’ll want to send a message out to his rivals. If he can put one minute into his rivals, he’ll also end the day with a firm grip of the race lead. Weirdly, this is his first ITT of 2019.
Michal Kwiatkowski – a lot will depend on team tactics. With a big weekend full of climbing, Froome will need his domestiques to save as much energy as possible, which could see the Pole going for a tourist ride. If allowed to ride for himself, he has a good chance of taking the win, especially as he’ll still be a little annoyed at missing out in Paris-Nice.
Jakob Fuglsang – he’s made some big improvements in this discipline over the last year, this is a chance to compare himself to Froome, and see how much further he’s still got to go. The Dane has enjoyed a brilliant season and has impressed in the opening two stages, he could be an outside contender for the podium, but only if he has a very good day.
Tejay Van Garderen – the American was 4th in the Paris-Nice TT, his only race against the clock for EF. A solid rider, he should be able to challenge for the top 5, but winning would be a huge surprise.
Nils Politt – a rider I’ve underestimated in the past, I’ll try and not do that again. His current form is very strong, but I would think that this route is just a little on the hilly side for him.
Alex Dowsett – when he’s good, he’s really good. Dowsett has been a solid contender over the years, but hasn’t threatened as much in recent seasons. Like his Katusha teammate, this route just looks a little hilly for him.
Jan Tratnik – was the surprise winner of the Romandie prologue, but his confidence must have taken a bashing in his recent national championships, where he was beaten by both Pogačar and Mohorič. Another who is likely to find the route too hard.
Joey Rosskopf – the American TT champion is capable of some big results, but he’s a little on the inconsistent side. Since his move to CCC, he’s been unable to threaten in TTs, I wonder if he’s missing his old BMC bike?
Should be Dumoulin v Froome. There are too many questions surrounding Dumoulin, I think this is a day for Chris Froome to send out a big message to his Tour rivals, especially a certain Welshman.
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