By David Hunter
San Benedetto Del Tronto 10.05km ITT
We end with a battle against the clock.
This is a time trial the riders know very well; it’s been the exact same since 2015. It’s one of those horrible full gas efforts, brakes are only required on a couple of occasions. Since 2015, only two men have won here: Fabian Cancellara and Rohan Dennis. The Swiss legend won in 2015 and 2016, Dennis has taken the glory in 2017 and 2018. Winning times have varied over those years, Cancellara posted 11:23 and 11:08, whereas Dennis won with 11:18 and 11:14.
In terms of the GC battle, we can use the 2018 times as a reference point. Roglič posted a time of 11:32, Adam Yates was 36 seconds behind him. This year Yates starts with a lead of 25 seconds to Roglič, is that going to be enough? Yates would rather look back at the 31km ITT at the end of the 2018 Tour de France, where he only dropped 14 seconds to the Slovenian. The GC is all to play for, that will only add to the excitement of the stage.
It should stay dry for everyone, but the wind will be an issue. Coming from the north, it’s going to be quite strong. That means a tailwind going out, but a horrible headwind on the way back. It will strengthen a touch as the day goes on, but only marginally.
Rohan Dennis – can he win for the third consecutive year? The Aussie will be keen on getting his first TT win on his Merida bike, it would help his confidence. Merida have never been renowned for making a quick TT bike, it certainly is a step down from his old BMC bike. Having the best equipment is huge in this sport, after losing his Aussie ITT title, I wonder how much work has gone on behind the scenes? He still starts as the favourite, but there are questions to be answered.
Jonathan Castroviejo – my gut feeling is that he prefers longer TTs, but his record in shorter ones is actually pretty good. The Spaniard enjoyed a good 2018 on his TT bike, finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi, 3rd in Tirreno, 4th in Itzulia and winning his national title. He’ll be confident of challenging for the podium, but he doesn’t win enough.
Filippo Ganna – the young Italian started his Sky career with a bang, winning the TT in Provence in his very first race with the team. He is a rider who’ll be loving working with the best equipment, what a difference from his UAE bike. The length of the TT is good for him, he’ll be hoping to impress on home soil. He has to start as one of the outside favourites for the win.
Stefan Küng – he won the TT in the Algarve, a result his new team would have been very pleased with. I was going to say that he’s better in longer TTs, but then again he blew everyone away in the Binck Bank ITT and that was only 12.7km. When he gets it right, he’s a hard man to beat.
Primož Roglič – his TT here in 2018 was actually quite poor by his standards. He was 3 seconds faster in 2017, which was good enough for 5th place. He has a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders, as he chases GC glory, I think he needs to post his best ever time on this course. If he does, he’ll be in with a shout of winning.
Jos Van Emden – 2nd in 2017, just 4 seconds behind Rohan Dennis. This is a feeling he’s used to; he was 2nd to Dennis in 2016, losing by just 3 seconds. Is it finally his time to take the win? He will hope that Dennis changing bikes will give him an edge compared to previous years.
Tom Dumoulin – the former world champion usually saves his best TT performances for the Grand Tours and World Championships. I don’t see him winning this one.
Søren Kragh Andersen – teammate of Dumoulin and a better option in this stage. The Dane lost the Algarve TT by just 2 seconds, which meant his wait for an ITT win continues. He’s a rider I do like, he seems to have a lot of potential and I think Sunweb will get the best out of him. He’ll be challenging for the top 5.
Mads Pedersen – 4th here last year, the Dane can produce big watts on his TT bike. However, he can also be a bit hit or miss. After going very deep on Sunday’s stage, he’s burned a few too many matches for me.
Victor Campenaerts – 16th here last year was a massively disappointing result for the Belgian, but that seemed to spur him on, and he produced some fine results in 2018. He’s been training in Namibia since the beginning of January, focusing on his upcoming attempt to break Bradley Wiggins’ hour record. I wonder if all that preparation for a longer distance will be a disadvantage in this TT?
This is going to be close. I’ll go for Jos Van Emden to eventually nail this one, he certainly deserves it! In the GC battle, Roglič will be too strong for Adam Yates, shame he can’t get his brother over to ride in his place! The headwind will kill off Yates.
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