By David Hunter
Gien > Gien 14km ITT
Time trial day.
We have a 14km blast around the streets of Gien. A lot of the route takes place on narrow roads, and despite a couple of little bumps this is a fast course and one for the specialists. The TT is long enough to see some of the climbers lose a substantial amount of time and it will end their bid for the yellow jersey, especially if Roglič posts a good time.
Perfect conditions with lots of sun and hardly any wind.
The first climb comes after 2km and is 460m at 8.7%, and it’s as challenging as the numbers suggest. The rest of the route contains four short little kickers, but nothing to write home about. The TT ends with another one, this time it’s 400m at 6%. Despite the little hills, this is a going to be a fast TT.
Primož Roglič – his first TT on his new bike, but the same is true for a quite a few riders thanks to many of the big teams swapping bike manufactures over the winter. Roglič is brilliant in this discipline, and as this stage happens early in the race he’ll be nice and fresh and ready to compete for the win. Some will look to his record in the Tirreno TT and point to the fact that he rarely challenges for the win, but that stage is at the end of a hard week, which does have a big impact on performance. He starts as one of the favourites.
Rohan Dennis – this type of distance used to be great for him, but that was a few years ago. His last TT win was the 2019 world championships, but last year can hardly be called poor, as he finished on the podium in 5 out of 7 events, and in most of them he was up against Ganna! After impressing in the mountains during the final week of the Giro, I do wonder if he’s focused more on climbing over the winter, this stage will let us now.
Rémi Cavagna – the French TT champion is yet to win a TT in a stage race, but you have to start somewhere. He is an incredibly strong rider, but I think he would prefer a longer effort.
Søren Kragh Andersen – a true specialist in short TTs. Last year he won over 8.1km in the BinckBank Tour and over 15km in Paris-Nice. The Dane seems to be incredibly strong over a period up to 20 minutes, he has to start this stage as one of the big favourites. He’s another on a new bike, we’ll have to see if that has an impact.
Yves Lampaert – another rider who goes well in short TTs. The Belgian will like the look of this route, as a classics specialist he won’t mind the two climbs. He did say that he won’t be in top form until after Paris-Nice, we’ll have to see if he can surprise himself.
Michael Matthews – he loves this race, and looked good on Sunday. I wouldn’t call him a specialist, but he’s been heading in the right direction for a good few years now. He’ll love the nature of this route, it’s one that suits him very well. I think he will back himself to be challenging for the podium, and hopefully stay in yellow.
Brandon McNulty – the American is another who’ll be expecting to challenge for the top 10. This is his first race of the season, so current form is unknown, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t already near his best. Top 10 is realistic, top 5 on a very good day.
Stefan Bissegger – a youngster with a big reputation. He was 2nd to Ganna in the UAE Tour, which came off the back of him finishing 3rd in the BinckBank TT at the end of 2020. The Swiss rider might only be 22, but he could well take his first world tour win in this stage, which would be huge.
Mads Pedersen – another challenger for the top 10, maybe the podium on a great day. He’s 4 seconds behind yellow, can he do it?
Victor Campenaerts – the nearly man. In 2020 he finished 6th, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 8th , 36th (crashed), 12th and 2ndin TTs. In 2019 his record was 1st, 2nd, 20th, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 11th. You can see that the Belgian is incredibly consistent, and very strong, but he doesn’t win enough. Can he start making the top step in 2021?
Max Schachmann – I get the impression he won’t be quite as strong as last year, but I could be wrong.
This is going to be very close. Given the narrow roads and the slightly rolling route, I’ll go for Søren Kragh Andersen to repeat his 2020 win.
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