By David Hunter
Bolsward – Bolsward 183.5km
The race begins with a circuit around the Dutch coastline. Any type of wind is dangerous, but the forecast looks like being kind. There is a small wind, coming from the south, not really enough to cause any damage. This should be a big, bunch sprint. With plenty of sprinters here, it should be very interesting.
The organisers have been kind to the riders, by creating a very safe circuit. The last corner comes with 4.5km to go and there are only 2 corners, inside the final 10km. This is as easy as you’ll get!
Sprint trains will have plenty of time to get organised and simply put, the fastest team will control the race. Time to talk sprinters and lead-out trains:)
Lotto Soudal – Sieberg, Roelandts, Debusschere, Greipel.
Etixx – Maes, Sabatini, Boonen.
BMC – No real sprinter.
Tinkoff – No real sprinter, even though Breschel did well in Denmark.
Trek – Stuyven, Felline, Alafaci, Boy Van Poppel, Nizzolo.
Sky – Fenn, Sutton, Viviani.
Astana – Gruzdev, De Vreese, Tleubayev, Guardini.
Lotto Jumbo – Wagner, Van Emden, Tjallingii, Hofland.
Katusha – Kochetkov, Selig, Kuznetsov, Guarnieri, Porsev.
Lampre – Ferrari, Richeze, Modolo.
Orica – Blythe, Howard, Cort.
Cannondale – No real sprinter.
IAM – Brandle, Aregger, Tanner, Van Genechten.
Giant – Curvers, Timmer, Waeytens, Arndt.
FDJ – Geslin, Delage, Demare.
Movistar – Lobato and Rojas to fend for themselves.
AG2R – Turgot to look after himself.
Topsport – Naesen, Vanspeybrouck, Theuns.
Roompot – De Vries, Groenewegen.
Wanty – Backaert, Marcato, Jans.
In terms of sprinters, they can be categorised fairly easily.
1st tier – Greipel.
2nd tier – Nizzolo, Viviani, Modolo, Guardini, Hofland, Demare.
3rd tier – Boonen(sorry Tom!), Porsev, Cort, Ardnt, Van Genechten, Lobato, Rojas, Theuns.
4th tier – Groenewegen, Turgot, Jans.
If Greipel has maintained his form and motivation, he should win with ease. However, sprinting is not just about being the fastest rider. Teammates are crucial to your success and we have some of the best lead-out trains, in the world.
Lotto will not have Greg Henderson, leading out Greipel. He is still recovering from his rib injury, instead, he will be working on the front of the peloton. It looks likely that Debusschere will be retained as lead-out man, with Roelandts coming in at 3 and Sieberg at 4(the best in the world). Lotto bring a formidable outfit. It’s going to take something special, to push these boys out of position. There is a little hope for the others. Roelandts has not been focused on sprints, in 2015. He might be a little rusty and does look a little vulnerable. Debusschere, hasn’t convinced at number 2. He disappointed in Paris, but Greipel’s power got him out of jail. Pressure can be applied to Lotto, once Sieberg has finished his pull.
Best placed to take advantage are Trek. They have a bizarre selection here, with 3 sprinters! Being a sprinter, doesn’t make you a great lead-out man. Alafaci is usually the number 2, but didn’t fulfil this job in Poland. He was still getting back to fitness after crashing earlier in the season. Marco Coledan was number 2 in Poland. He used to do this role for Bardiani, in support of a certain Sacha Modolo. Coledan did not look at ease back in this position, I think he’ll be back controlling the peloton, not involved in the sprints. In the Giro, Boy Van Poppel, was at number 3. I think they might push him up into 2 and swap roles with Alafaci. Both are very fast and will do a strong job. In the Giro, they were the only team looking to compete with Lotto. They will resume hostilities here.
Lampre will try their usual approach. Do nothing all day and then arrive with Ferrari, Richeze and Modolo, with 1.5km to go. After Greipel left the Giro, this approach worked very well. One problem is that Richeze is lacking races. He’ll need a few stages to get back up to racing speed, this will seriously hurt Modolo. When Richeze is not his lead-out man, he rarely wins.
Katusha have a serious sprint train here. This is the train that worked so well for Kristoff, earlier in the season. Selig might slot into the train but Kochetkov, Kuznetsov and Guarnieri, work very well together. In the Tour, the team perfected the late charge(as they lacked numbers), similar to Lampre. Due to the strength of Lotto, most teams will be patient and try to swamp them, inside the final 2km. I have already identified some potential weakness and this is when the others should attack. Katusha’s problem is that Porsev is not Kristoff. He will be given a great lead-out, but does he have the speed needed to win?
Guardini is lacking Bozic, his trusted lead-out man. This will make it hard for him to challenge Greipel. Viviani has almost no help and he needs all the help he can get, when it comes to positioning. Hofland and Demare could get it right, but it would take something special.
Due to the number of sprinters, the break doesn’t stand a chance. Watch out for the golden kilometre, where we have 3 different bonus sprints/seconds available. This was used in the Belgian Tour and added to the race. We’ll see some GC riders trying to gain vital seconds. This comes with 23km to go and we could well see some of the GC riders continuing their attack and trying to surprise the sprinters. However, Lotto have the strength to bring it back and will boss the sprint, for a Greipel win. I like the look of Nizzolo to make the podium.
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