By David Hunter
Voorburg 9km ITT
Strap yourself in for a close TT. Just 9km long, this means the gaps will be small and plenty of riders will think they have a chance of taking the win. With only a few corners, the riders won’t be using their brakes very often. The final 3km is almost dead straight, that is perfect for those with the most power.
This is where it gets tricky! We have a prediction of thunderstorms, with showers throughout the afternoon. Not only that, but the wind is due to change direction during the stage. It starts from the south-east, but eventually ends up coming from the north-west. Riders will just be praying that they get lucky.
Tom Dumoulin – starts as the big favourite for the stage. The Giro winner has a good record in TTs in his home country, taking wins in the Eneco Tour and the Giro. His performances in TTs have been slightly worse this year, mainly due to his focus on climbing mountains. It’s only natural that when a rider loses weight, it has a negative impact on their TT power. However, he now has his sights on the world championships and taking a first TT crown, that means he’s back in TT mode!
Stefan Kung – a rising star of this discipline. He was 2nd in the Tour de Suisse prologue and finished in the same position in the opening TT in the Tour de France. This has been a massive progression in 2017 and he firmly sits in the “specialist” category now. He is the current Swiss TT champion but that is his only TT win in his pro career.
Jos Van Emden – the Dutchman is enjoying a fine season, taking 2nd place in the Tirreno TT and winning the Giro TT. He recently finished 5th in the Euro TT, but was leading through the first check point. I have a slight worry about the weather, the tyres that the team used in the Tour didn’t cope well with the slippery conditions. Van Emden will be hoping for a dry day.
Peter Sagan – the TT is a good length for Sagan, as he looks to try and stay as close as he can to Tom Dumoulin. A hugely powerful athlete, he’ll have enough speed on the long straights. The technical section is great news for Sagan, he is one of the best bike handlers in the modern day peloton. He was 8th last year in the Breda TT and he’ll hope for another top 10 performance.
Michael Hepburn – it wasn’t that long ago Hepburn was considered as a potential world TT champion, but he had to endure a couple of bad seasons. 2017 has been much better for the Aussie, he was 3rd in the Tirreno TT back in March. In the Giro, he managed two top 15 performances and he certainly seems to have his confidence back. On his day, he could certainly challenge for the top 10.
Alex Dowsett – his recent crash in the Tour of Poland is a concern for me. His TT performances have been consistently good this season, 2nd in the Romandie prologue and 1st in Pays de la Loire were high points. If he has recovered from his crash, he will be challenging for the podium.
Wout Van Aert – the cyclocross star has already taken some impressive results in this discipline. In 2016 he won the Belgium Tour prologue(6km) and was 9th in Ster(6.4km), this season he was 3rd in the Belgium Tour(13.4km), finishing on the same time as Tony Martin. He is such an impressive cyclist, I would not be surprised to see him finish in the top 5, a huge result for him in a world tour race.
Mathias Brandle – the TT rider that doesn’t win many TTs! He managed a huge performance, taking the win in the Belgium Tour TT, but he does struggle to perform well in world tour TTs. His 4th position in the recent Euros was another example of Brandle disappointing when he was one of the favourites. If he wins, I’ll eat my hat!
Jasha Sutterlin – another youngster who has a growing reputation in this discipline. Riding for Movistar helps, I’m a big fan of the Canyon TT bike. His 6th place in the Dauphine TT was a massive step forward, but he was massively disappointed to have crashed when doing a recon of the opening stage of the Tour. I expect a top 10 result.
Maciej Bodnar – seems to have refound his TT mojo! His win in the Tour was a big surprise, his biggest TT win before that was in De Panne. He followed that up with 2nd in the Euros, losing out on gold by just 2 seconds. The Polish rider has a huge engine and will love the straight sections, but I think he would like a longer route.
Tony Martin – the German is one of the best TT riders in the world, but this distance is not his speciality. I think he will find it difficult to challenge for the win.
It looks like the outcome of the TT will be determined by the weather, making prediction incredibly difficult. The forecast seems to suggest that riders starting early will have an advantage. The riders knew this today and some deliberately finished at the back of the bunch, ensuring an early start time. Going out very early are Bodnar, Dowsett, Wellens, Dumoulin, Van Emden, Kung and Brandle. I think we’ll see another win for Tom Dumoulin.
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