By David Hunter
Al Maryah Island 12.7km ITT
Time for the GC battle to commence.
This is one for the power men of the peloton. We have few corners and long straights, expect 12.7km of pure hell for most.
Sunny, but there will be some wind. This is coming from the south and getting stronger during the day, but weirdly changes to a northerly wind at 1600. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before! Wind from the south means a headwind for riders after they make the turn at 7.1km. That section could become very difficult.
Rohan Dennis – starts as the huge favourite. 2017 certainly was a great year on his TT bike, taking wins in the Aussie nats, Tirreno and Tour de Suisse x2. He also helped BMC to win three TTTs, but he missed out on a medal at the Worlds, thanks to some bad luck. Dennis is a monster on the TT bike, but he just seems to struggle in the Olympics and Worlds. Put him in a stage race and he’s almost unstoppable. He knows that a big win will set him up nicely for the mountain stage on Sunday.
Tom Dumoulin – seems to save his best TT performances for grand tours and the worlds. A phenomenal TT rider, he was always going to lose some edge as he transitioned into a grand tour winner. Still capable of huge power, he will hope for a strong showing in this stage. He’d be disappointed if he didn’t make the podium.
Ion Izagirre – too flat for him.
Julian Alaphilippe – the French superstar is more than capable of smashing a short TT. He won the mountain TT in Paris-Nice, that was one hell of a performance. With one eye on the GC, he’ll want to stay as close as he can to the winning time. On his day, he could challenge for the podium.
Alexandre Geniez – won the recent prologue in Tour La Provence, but this is a step up. He will hope for a good result, finishing in the top 10 would be a solid ride for him.
Stephen Cummings – the British TT champion is a dark horse for this stage. The former track star is capable of big performances on his TT bike, the problem is predicting them!
Alex Dowsett – went close to a win in the Romandie prologue, but the rest of 2017 was disappointing for him. This is a new year, can he start with a bang?
Jos Van Emden – the man that Dennis will be worried about. 2017 was another great year for the Dutchman, winning the Giro TT and finishing 2nd in Tirreno. He probably would have won in the BinckBank Tour, but went the wrong way in the closing metres. The distance is very good for him and he’ll be hoping to put Dennis under pressure.
Jonathan Castroviejo – too short for him.
Matthias Brändle – solid top 10 rider.
I’ll go for a surprise, the winner will be Jos Van Emden. I just have one of those feelings.
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