By David Hunter
Den Haag 8km ITT
Time for a battle against the clock.
The route is a classic out and back circuit, and only 8km in length. The short distance ensures the gaps will be small and the GC battle will be decided on Sunday. It also means that the TT specialists will have to battle against the strong men of the peloton.
There is a chance of early rain, which could mean wet roads for some. The wind is very strong and comes from the south-west, which means a block headwind as the riders head back to the finish. It should remain strong throughout the day, but there is a small chance the late starters get the best of conditions.
Stefan Küng – the Swiss star still looks to be struggling with the switch away from his trusted BMC bike. This year he hasn’t managed to achieve anything like the results he has grown used to, which must have had an impact on his confidence. Last year’s win here was astonishing, he was 14 seconds ahead of 2nd place, and the TT was only 12.7km long. A repeat performance seems highly unlikely, but 4th at the Euros was a sign of some returning form.
Jos Van Emden – the Dutch TT champion will be bursting with pride riding in front of his home fans. He recently won the prologue in the ZLM Tour, a good indication of form. This week he’s been seen working hard in preparation for sprints, I hope he’s managed to save some energy back for this effort.
Søren Kragh Andersen – after a frustrating season, the Dane is eventually starting to find some form. He is a fine rider on his TT bike, he was 3rd and 4th in the recent Tour de Suisse ITTs. He’s never won an ITT as a professional, can this be his first?
Mads Pedersen – 2018 was brilliant, 2019 has been a challenge, but he now seems to be hitting form. He’s already delivered some brilliant lead outs, almost helping Theuns to the win in the opening stage. This stage will be a huge target for him, can he continue his good form?
Filippo Ganna – the Italian won his first ever race with Sky, back in the Tour de la Provence at the beginning of the year. He followed that up with a strong 3rd place in Romandie and won the Italian TT championship. On the track, he’s the current individual pursuit world champion, which means this is a good distance for him.
Tim Wellens – he knows a good TT could all but win the GC, and he’s fully capable of producing a big ride. Wellens started the year by winning the TT in Andalucía, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him challenging for his second stage win.
Bob Jungels – looks off the pace.
Edoardo Affini – 3rd in the recent Euro Champs ITT, which is a good indicator of form. The Italian has already won his first race for Mitchelton Scott, back in the Tour of Norway, so the pressure is off. I wonder if he can surprise some of the bigger names here.
Jack Bauer – arrived here saying he was looking forward to this stage, after spending a considerable amount of time training on his TT bike. He has some decent TT results, 7th in Tirreno in 2018 stands out. Winning would be a surprise, but he should be gunning for the top 10.
Tom Bohli – when he’s good he’s very good. He’s gone very close to winning his first world tour TT, finishing 2nd in the 2018 Tour de Romandie prologue and 3rd this year. The short distance seems to suit him well, he’ll sense an opportunity to claim his first “big” win.
Mike Teunissen – on his best form, Teunissen would be one of the men to challenge for win. Given how much energy he used up in the Tour de France, I don’t think he’ll win, but he could get very close.
If the late starters do get an advantage (remember, weather forecasters always seem to get things wrong!), it should be a battle between Pedersen, SKA, Küng, Teunissen and Wellens. Given the way he’s been riding this week, I sense a win for Mads Pedersen.
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