By David Hunter
Ravnanger – Bergen 42.5km
Time for some pain.
This is what you call a demanding TTT. I would say it’s one of the hardest I’ve ever seen. We have a rolling profile, full of little bumps, plus a tough climb after 30km.
Any climb in a TTT is hard, this one is cruel. It comes after 29.6km, so riders will already be tired. Then they hit this wee bugger! 500m at 5%, 500m at 7.8% and 400m at 9.1%. It is going to be very hard to keep four riders together on this hill.
Once the climb has been crested, we have 11.5km remaining. This part of the course is quite easy and difficult to make any serious time. The team that leads at the top of the hill, should hold on to win at the end.
A Different TTT
Usually, you want six powerful riders, but not in Bergen. The climb means that your team has to be a mixture of power and climbing ability. Each team must have four riders at the finish, that really does put pressure on the non-climbers.
Team selection will have been very difficult. You are only allowed six riders, what mixture do you come with? Luckily for some teams, they possess riders who are great on the TT bike and can climb, that certainly puts them at an advantage.
The last 5km is not easy. We have a couple of little climbs, cobbles and some tight corners.
Luckily, it looks like even conditions for all teams. We should have some sunshine, a few clouds and little wind. Perfect for a TTT.
BMC – Dennis, Dillier, Kung, Oss, Scotson, Van Garderen.
After losing their crown in 2016, the BMC boys are back to try and regain gold. 2017 has been a stellar season in this discipline, taking wins in Tirreno, Catalunya and the Vuelta. I think they could have a problem with their squad selection, this is the same team they would have picked for a flat course. No doubt, Dennis and Kung, will be more than capable of coping with the climb, but some of the others will certainly struggle. They will need to destroy the opening 30km, giving themselves a big advantage for the climb.
QuickStep – Bauer, Gilbert, Jungels, Lampaert, Terpstra, Vermote.
The Belgians regained their crown in 2016, and they make two changes from that team. Tony Martin and Marcel Kittel are out, replaced by Bauer and Gilbert. Those replacements will certainly weaken the squad and I don’t think they’ll cope well with the climbing. I think it will be hard for them to defend their crown.
Orica – Durbridge, Edmondson, Hepburn, Howson, Impey, Tuft.
I don’t think the Aussies are genuine contenders for gold, but they will be fighting for the podium. Of their squad, only Tuft comes from the Vuelta, I’m not sure about this strategy. Impey and Howson will cope with the climbing, but who else will hold on?
Sky – Doull, Froome, Kiryienka, Kwiatkowski, Moscon, Thomas.
The Brits were 4th last year and come with a stronger squad. Out goes Roche, Danny Van Poppel and Ben Swift. They are replaced by Owain Doull, Chris Froome and Gianni Moscon. Unlike the other teams, they have climbing talent to spare and this is where Sky will have an advantage over the other teams. The presence of Froome is a clear indication of their intentions, they are going for gold.
Jumbo – Boom, Campenaerts, Clement, Roglic, Van Emden, Van Hoecke.
5th in 2016, just 1 second behind Sky. The Dutch boys bring their big hitters with them, with Leezer, Kelderman and Roosen being replaced by Boom, Clement and Van Hoecke. The squad looks balanced and strong, they have riders for the flat and the climb. Recent TT performances have been strong and they will be aiming for the podium. The team have been knocking on the door for a while now, can they deliver a huge result?
Sunweb – Andersen, Dumoulim, Kelderman, Kamna, Matthews, Oomen.
Finished down in 7th place in 2016, a really disappointing performance. Their most recent TT performance was 3rd place in the Vuelta. That was a hugely impressive performance, especially considering they had a few non-specialists in the squad. They bring a squad that oozes quality and have a great chance of upsetting the “bigger” names.
This is a tough one to call, as the climb will have an impact. I don’t think we’ll see Quickstep challenging of this one, they seem weaker than in previous years. This should be a battle between Sky and BMC, with Sky coming out on top. Their squad seems to have a better balance to the others.
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