By David Hunter
Sion – Sion 15.1km
It’s TT time in Romandie!
Like all stages in this race, it’s not flat.
The climb isn’t the hardest in the world, 4.4km at 5%, but it certainly gives the GC riders a chance of beating the TT specialists, although it will still be hard. The big problem is the presence of two of the best in the world:-
Tom Dumoulin – simply an amazing rider. His position on the bike is beautifully aero and he achieved big success in 2015. The Dutchman won the TT in Pais Vasco, Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta. An injury prevented him from being competitive in the Worlds, although he did finish 5th. It was a great year for him and he is fully focused on claiming the Olympic TT title, later on this year. The route is perfect for him, although it could be a little longer. Unfortunately, Dumoulin suffered from an upset stomach today. He only finished 57 seconds down, but it’s unsure how he’ll react tomorrow.
Jerome Coppel – he improved throughout 2015, taking the bronze medal in the World Championship. That was a huge result for him and gave him real hope of what might be to come. He’s done four TTs in 2016, winning one and finishing 2nd in the other three. The IAM rider really should be full of confidence and decided to take the descent easy in the prologue, so that he didn’t crash ahead of this stage.
Bob Jungels will eventually become one of the best in the world, but he’s still developing. I see him challenging for the top 10, but nothing more from the Etixx man.
Froome, Thomas, Quintana, Pinot, Zakarin, Spilak and Van Garderen are no strangers to winning TTs. What they lack in pure power, they make up with climbing ability. All of these riders have been successful before and they will hope to challenge here. As the race is only 15km long, it does give them a chance.
Froome did have a puncture, but should have been able to rejoin the group today, but he didn’t. Van Garderen crashed and suffered in the finale. Thomas was off the pace.
Of the GC riders, expect to see some big TT results from Quintana, Zakarin and Pinot. Nairo did a brilliant TT in Pais Vasco, but that was thanks to a very difficult climb. This climb is nowhere near as hard.
Pinot continues to impress. He won the 7km TT in the Criterium International, beating Copppel by 2 seconds. The climb should help him as he strives to land a big TT result in a World Tour event.
Zakarin is the man they should fear. His TT here in 2015 was nothing short of exceptional. If he can produce a similar performance, he will put himself in a great position to win the GC.
Looking at the others who finished high today, Spilak, Izagirre and Costa have what it takes to do well. Izagirre clearly still has good legs, despite a demanding week in the Ardennes. His time in the prologue was outstanding and he really should be considered one of the favourites for this stage. His TT results have been okay this season, 4th in Algarve is his best result. He was looking fast in Valenciana, but crashed and ruined his chances. He usually threatens the leaderboard but rarely wins, Tuesday broke that pattern! With Zakarin looking strong, it will be very important for Movistar to have Quintana and Izagirre high on GC.
Bad news for the late starters, it looks like rain for them, plus a strengthening wind. If it rains, they have no chance of winning the stage. Thankfully there aren’t too many corners, but GC riders will not want to take excessive risks.
1429 Peter Velits
1432 Lieuwe Westra
1435 Patrick Gretsch
1438 Michael Hepburn
1439 Jack Bobridge
The climb makes it hard for a rider like Hepburn, but I do like the look of Bobridge. The Aussie road champion really is good against the clock, although he can be inconsistent. If he gets out on dry roads, he could set a time difficult for anyone to beat.
I need two picks! If everyone gets equal conditions, I think that Coppel will win. If the rain comes down at 3pm, it could well be a day for Bobridge.
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