By David Hunter
Breda 9.6km ITT
We have been here before. The Eneco Tour had the same TT back in 2014, with Tom Dumoulin winning the stage. That day he beat Cancellara by 2 seconds, with Thomas a further 8 seconds back. Can the Dutchman do it again?
Tom Dumoulin – on home soil and in good form. He will have been disappointed to only finish 3rd in the Tour of Britain ITT, but back in Breda, he’ll be full of confidence. He needs a big performance if he wants to challenge for the GC, as Giant will lose time in the TTT. Last time riding a TT in Holland, it was in the Giro. He won that day, by under 1 second.
Rohan Dennis – beat Dumoulin in Britain, but lost to Tony Martin. He hasn’t been as strong in this discipline as I would have expected, in 2016. He won the Aussie title, back in January, and the TT in California, but no other wins. He was 5th in the Tour and in Rio, where bad luck cost him a medal. The defeat to Martin would have hurt in Britain and I get the feeling the pressure is building on him. We’ll have to wait and see how he reacts.
Tony Martin – fresh from his first win in 2016, the German will be full of confidence. He really did need that result, after some poor TT performances. A TT under 10km is not usually his speciality, but he did win in Britain over 15km. Will back himself to win the stage.
Taylor Phinney – after a terrible TT in Rio, he was flying in London, but crashed. We will never know if he would have been capable of beating Tony Martin. It was a welcome return to form for him and he’ll be looking forward to this one.
Michal Kwiatkowski – won E3 on 25th March, but his season went down the tubes from that point. He was a DNF in the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphine. He did finish the Tour of Poland, but was way down in 34th place. He then only lasted 6 stages in the Vuelta. What a terrible season he’s had. On paper, this is a great race for him, but you cannot trust him anymore. Hopefully he is injury free.
Geraint Thomas – 3rd here in 2014, a very good sign. The former pursuit star, is very strong in short TTs. Expect a solid top 10 finish.
Michael Matthews – his first race of the year was the prologue in Paris-Nice. He pulled out a huge surprise, by winning the stage. That was over 6.1km and he beat Dumoulin by 1 second. The Aussie is capable of winning this stage, and his recent form has been good, without getting a win. Will hope to go top 5.
Dries Devenyns – what a season he’s having! Always capable of pulling out a good TT, he certainly left the Vuelta with good legs. He will be looking for a solid time, to put him into a good overall position.
Ion Izagirre – won the Romandie prologue and the 16.8km ITT in the Tour de Suisse. The Spaniard is having another brilliant season and Movistar always seem to get a rider on the podium in TTs.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – started the season with a terrific win in Qatar. He took the 11km ITT by 25 seconds, a quite stunning victory. Things have gone a little quiet since the Tour, but he’ll be looking to try and pick up a few wins before the end of the year. Benefits from a late start.
Bob Jungels – normally a terrific TT rider, but had a disaster in the Euro Championships. It will be interesting to see how he performs so soon after a bad result.
Marcel Kittel – 5th in the Dutch Giro TT, over 9.8km. The big German is also a good choice for a short TT like this. He has the power and acceleration required to challenge the big TT stars.
Primoz Roglic – was very unlucky in the Giro, losing by the narrowest of margins to Dumoulin. To be honest, he’s struggled to match that result. Will be hoping for a top 5 performance.
Peter Sagan – given his recent form, the world champion cannot be discounted. He also has the advantage of going out long after everyone else. Put simply, Sagan will know the time he has to beat. We shall have to see if he can. He won the TT in California in 2015, over a very similar distance.
Alex Dowsett – won the recent TT in the Tour of Poland, so is on good form. He starts after all the other big favourites, so he’ll have the times he needs to beat.
Jos Van Emden – not quite lived up to his 2015 performances, but on home soil, he’s a danger. Won the 6.4km TT in Ster and was 2nd in Qatar, but he would have hoped for more in 2016. Won the TT here in 2015, can he do it again?
Wilco Kelderman – teammate of Van Eden and Roglic, giving Jumbo three options here. He’s been close on a few occasions the season, 2nd in Andalucia and Poitou Charentes. Like the other Dutch riders, has a little bit more motivation than the others.
Sun, with a little cloud. It will stay dry and we have a constant wind throughout the day. Looks like being a level playing field. That is a relief, after so many TTs dominated by weather.
The big riders go out at varying times. Dennis is the first of the big guns, he’s out very early. Roglic and Dumoulin are next, both will know the time Dennis has posted.
Under normal circumstances, this would be a battle between Dennis and Dumoulin. As Dumoulin is on home soil and will know the time of Dennis, I’ll go with him for the stage win. It will be a long day in the hot seat for Tom, he should really bring a book!
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