By David Hunter
Ollon – Villars 10km ITT
Time trial day.
This is a climb which the organisers love. Instead of coming at the end of the stage, they have decided to make it a mountain time trial. Such a stage we rarely see outside of a grand tour and it will make for fascinating viewing.
There is a small chance of rain, but it should stay dry. The wind is relatively light and is coming from the west, meaning a tailwind for a lot of the climb. The wind will remain fairly constant throughout the day, meaning equal conditions for all.
Officially the climb is 9.5km at 8%. As you can see, the opening 4km averages 8.63%, which is very tough. It then gets slightly easier, before tackling the hardest kilometre of the climb, which is at 9.1%. This will be a challenging stage for all.
Primoz Roglic – TT specialist and climbs with the best. That makes Roglic one of the men to beat. He arrived in Switzerland in fine form, after a stunning win in Itzulia, confidence is high. He is one of the best TT riders in the world, but the fact they climb a mountain means that the climbers have a chance to beat him.
Geraint Thomas – given the way he climbed for the majority of 2017, Thomas has to start as one of the big favourites. As he moved away from the classics and focused on the mountains, he has claimed some impressive results. A crashed stopped him from competing in the Giro, but Thomas has seriously impressed me over the last two years. This is a big opportunity for him to show what he is capable of and stake a claim to lead Team Sky in July.
Richie Porte – where is his form at? If he had arrived here with serious racing in his legs, he would start this stage as the big favourite. Unfortunately, the Aussie has not enjoyed the European spring weather and has struggled with his health. Without recent racing, it will be tough for him to hit the level required to win this stage.
Ion Izagirre – I still think his energy levels are dangerously low. It’s been a very busy period for the Basque rider, but he might have enough left to challenge for the podium. He is a strong TT rider, but has failed to deliver a big win since joining Bahrain.
Steven Kruijswijk – cast your mind back to 2016 and his wonderful TT on Alpe di Siusi. The Jumbo man knows how to challenge in this type of TT and I expect a big ride from him. For me, he’s the dark horse for the win.
Simon Špilak – no form to speak of, but he does love this race. He finished 2nd on GC in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and this cannot be ignored. He is a fantastic climber, but only when on top form. In 2017, he only managed to find that form on one occasion, taking a brilliant win in the Tour de Suisse. He loves racing in this country, can he deliver a big result?
Egan Bernal – the TT champion of Colombia and a brilliant climber. Bernal has enjoyed a tremendous start to his Sky career, even though a crash robbed him of 2nd place in Catalunya. This is his first race since that crash, but he seems to already recovered and looks strong. Sky will hope that he can post a fast time, giving them two options for the Queen stage on Saturday.
Rui Costa – the former world champion looks in great form. He’s another that performs well in this country, it really seems to get the best out of him. Not the purist climber, he’ll hope for a solid time and try to stay in the fight for the podium.
Pierre Latour – the French TT champion is looking in good form. Latour is rider who is destined for the very top, but at this stage of his career, he’s looking to improve in one week stage races. After finishing 3rd in Catalunya, he has another chance of doing something in this race. Whilst his climbing style isn’t very pleasing on the eye, it is very effective. I think he’ll be challenging for the top 5.
Dan Martin – this is the only TT Dan Martin looks forward to. After an unlucky Ardennes campaign, he seems to still have good legs. Given his climbing ability, he has to be challenging for the stage win.
I’m finding this rather hard…
There is something beautiful about this stage, it is man v man and nothing to do with drafting or team support. So, who’s the best climber in this group?
I’ll ignore recent issues and take a win for Richie Porte.
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