By David Hunter
With races in Oman and Spain the organisers have stuck to a traditional route to entice back many riders that love this race. They seem to have been successful and have the usual mix of climbers, sprinters and classics specialists. This race does have something for everyone.
The finish to the opening stage has a few roundabouts to deal with and has a little uphill section. It’s not as hard as the usual opening stage, but will still make it a little more difficult for the sprint trains.
The second stage sees the start of the GC battle with the climb, Alto da Foia.
After a steep beginning, it does settle down into a fairly steady climb. In 2016, LL Sanchez won the stage from Geraint Thomas and Primož Roglič. The top 20 riders should finish close to each other, keeping the GC battle alive.
Stage 3 is the opportunity for the TT riders to put big time into their rivals. At 18km it’s long enough for serious damage to be done.
The fourth stage is over 200km, perfect for those that are here to prepare for Omloop and KBK. Despite the attempts of the breakaway riders, it should end in another sprint.
The final stage ends with the usual finish to Alto do Malhao.
Despite being short, this climb usually sees some big time gaps, thanks to the steep gradient. In the last three editions, Contador has won twice and Richie Porte once. It shows the level of climber that can succeed here. The TT specialists will be hoping to hang on to claim the GC win.
Primož Roglič – no one is really sure what happened to him in the Valenciana TTT, looks like it was just a bad day. He certainly returned to form in the other stages, looking like the rider Lotto-Jumbo expected to see. He was 5th here in 2016, but he’ll certainly want more after a strong winter. The TT is good for him, as are the two punchy climbs. He’s a big contender for the podium.
Luis Leon Sanchez – was looking very strong here in 2016, winning the Foia stage, but he was a DNF in the TT. It’s a race he can do well in, he was 5th here in 2015. He’s a rider that already has decent racing in his legs, thanks to the Tour Down Under. His 16th place finish on GC was a solid start to the year. He will certainly be shooting for a podium spot.
José Gonçalves – I really hope he gets the nod from Katusha. After joining from Caja-Rural, he will do as told by the team. They arrive with Tony Martin and Simon Spilak, it’s unlikely that Jose will be team leader, but having multiple options will be good for the team. The Portuguese star would love to do well on home roads.
Tony Gallopin – he arrives fresh from winning the TT in Besseges, but just again failed to take the GC. A good TT would be a massive help in this race, but at 18km it’s hard to see Gallopin contesting for that stage. In theory, the climbing stages should suit him. He finished 6th here in 2016 and would hope to make the podium this year.
Michal Kwiatkowski – Team Sky have a proud record in this race, we shall see if the Pole can continue the good run. The TT and short climbs are ideal for him, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen him contend in stage races. On his day, the former world champion, is as good as any. It would be nice to see him start the season well.
The 18km TT eliminates riders like Dan Martin and Amaro Antunes, who will have to be happy challenging for stage glory.
Volta ao Algarve video preview with Tiesj Benoot
I liked the look of him in Valenciana, so I’ll go with Primož Roglič. He’ll cope with the climbs, so it all depends on his TT. Remember this is a rider that won and was 2nd in the two Giro TTs.
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2017 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved