By David Hunter
Magenta – Torino 200.8km
Standard route for this little beauty, with nothing to see until two ascents of the Superga climb.
No point wasting time discussing the route, it’s all about the climb.
4.9km at 9.1% is a tough test at any time of the year, but almost cruel in October. With many tired riders, it’s a lottery to see what legs you have. First time up, the riders don’t climb to the top and it’s almost a waste of time attacking as there are still too many domestiques left to chase. The race all comes down to the final 5km.
It’s not easy to judge the right time to attack. Some riders have won with an early attack, others have waited until near the final kilometre. As I have mentioned, a lot of riders will already have poor legs, that’s why an early move can succeed. If you can manage to gain around 20 seconds, it can be enough to last until the finish. Who has the legs? Who has the motivation?
This season we have one extra day between this race and Il Lombardia, will that allow some of the big guns to go full gas?
A wet edition is guaranteed, with rain due in the afternoon.
Domenico Pozzovivo – the pocket rocket is enjoying a good end to 2018. As usual, Vincenzo Nibali has decided to skip this race, so Pozzovivo will get his chance to lead Bahrain. 9th place in Emila was okay, but I thought he would have done better, that really sums his career up. The Italian is a rider who regularly challenges, but rarely wins.
Rafa Majka – the Bora rider has a good record in this race, finishing 2nd in 2013 and 2016. He’s the type of explosive climber who can perform well on a climb of this length and gradient. Fatigue is a worry for me, as he looked off the pace in the World Championships.
David Gaudu – the talented Frenchman was close here in 2017, eventually finishing 5th. He was active in today’s race, something that makes me thinks he’ll have a big say in this race. With Pinot focused on Saturday, the youngster will be given freedom to chase his own result. In 2017, he tried to follow Uran, but blew in the closing kilometres. He’ll have learned from this experience and should be stronger after another year in the pro peloton.
Alejandro Valverde – will he be tempted into going deep? He seemed to float through today’s race, which will have acted as little warm up for his legs. His main focus is Saturday, but this type of climb is perfect for him.
Dylan Teuns – looked in brilliant form in Emilia. The Belgian was able to easily cover the moves of the climbers and allow De Marchi to take the win. Teuns is one of the best in the world on steep gradients, but my worry is the length of this climb. I have a feeling it might just be a kilometre too long for him, but I look forward to being proved wrong.
Egan Bernal – he be just back from a horrible crash, but I really liked what he was able to produce in Emilia and Beghelli. . The Colombian would normally start as the huge favourite for this type of race, but his lack of recent racing does raise some questions, but it also leaves him feeling fresher than everyone else.
Hugh Carthy – after climbing well in America and the Tour of Britain, it’s great to see him getting some freedom in this race. EF will go with him and Martinez as protected riders and they should be able to challenge for the win. Carthy has committed himself to another two years with the team and a win would be a great way to celebrate.
Tiesj Benoot – it’s been a frustrating spell for the Belgian star, but he was back looking strong in Paris-Tours. Tiesj is a rider who does like competing in Italy and I sense he’s still got a good result in his legs. Some still think he isn’t a good climber, but he can easily cope with this type of climb. Hopefully his legs are still good.
Forget his lack of recent races, Egan Bernal will be too good for everyone else.
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