By David Hunter
San Benedetto del Tronto 10.05km ITT
The race ends with the usual TT, a course that is all about power.
Fabian Cancellara has won here on four occasions, with Tony Martin and Adriano Malori, the other winners in the last 6 years. You need to be a proper TT rider to take this stage.
Sunny, with a constant wind coming from the north. The weather will not have an impact on the race.
Rohan Dennis – the Aussie is currently sitting in 3rd place overall and has his sights on 2nd place. He sits just 16 seconds behind Pinot, a gap that the Frenchman will be worried about. Dennis is an outstanding TT rider and he started the season by retaining his Aussie title. He won the 2016 Eneco TT over a similar distance. Given his track record in this discipline, he starts as one of the big favourites.
Jonathan Castroviejo – the Spaniard has started the season in great form, winning the TT in the Algarve and currently sits 8th on GC. He took a big step forward in this discipline in 2016 and he isn’t far away from joining the very best in the world. He’ll like this course and has a good chance of taking the stage and moving into the top 6 overall.
Thibaut Pinot – the Frenchman has improved a huge amount, but must be a little worried about the specialists that sit behind him on GC. The gap to Quintana is too big, this is about holding onto the podium. Pinot leads Dennis by 16 seconds and Roglic by 25, he is under pressure!
Bob Jungels – his TT progression has certainly stalled a little, as he turned his attention to the mountains. Still capable of finishing in the top 10, but I don’t see him threatening the top 5.
Primoz Roglic – I cannot hide my admiration for this rider. After three years with Adria Mobil, it was Jumbo that decided to take a chance on him. 2016 was his first season in the world tour and he delivered a stage win in the Giro TT. Already in 2017 he seems to have made more progression, not only did he win in the Algarve, but he’s very close to finishing on the podium of this race. 25 seconds to Pinot is a big gap, but he certainly could do it.
Vasil Kiryienka – former world champion is usually only starting to warm up after 10km!
Geraint Thomas – magnificent form. The former pursuit star can TT very well and he will be hoping to move up on GC. The problem for the Welshman, is that the riders directly above him are TT specialists. I think we could see him finishing the stage in the top 5.
Michal Kwiatkowski – the Pole is back to his best. He was 4th in the Algarve TT, before taking the title in Strade Bianche. This length of TT is perfect for him, he can hold a huge amount of watts for a short period of time. The dark horse for the stage.
Tom Dumoulin – his TT position is a work of art! He’s in a good period of form and he loves this discipline. Last year was a good year on his TT bike, taking the win on home soil in the Giro TT. Saying that, he ended the season in disappointing fashion, missing out on gold in Rio and only finishing 11th in the worlds. Back on form, he has a great chance of taking the stage.
Mathias Brandle – the Austrian has recently been working hard for his new bosses at Trek, but this is his chance to impress. After working very hard for Contador in Andalucia, he has been taking this race very easy. That’s because he’s been saving his legs for this stage. Expect to see him give it everything he’s got, to try and take the win. Trek have a great record in this stage, thanks to the mighty Cancellara, can they pull of a surprise win?
This is close. We have Dumoulin, Dennis, Roglic, Castroviejo and I think Brandle will be close too. As a huge fan of the aero position of Tom Dumoulin, I will back him for the stage.
In the GC fight, only a mechanical will stop Quintana from taking the crown. The big fight is for the podium. No way I’m going to try and predict that!
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