By David Hunter
Back in the land of tea and Yorkshire puddings, readers in South America might need to google what a Yorkshire Pudding is, or better still, go and eat one!
With only three categorised climbs, this should really be a sprint. Robin Hood’s Bay is a very steep climb, but it crests with 28km remaining, so we should still have a group of around 50 riders for the sprint. Saying that, it might be more selective than I think.
The easiest of the three stages, should be a full sprint.
A brutal end to the last stage. Cast your mind back to 2014 and the Tour de France had a stage that finished in Sheffield. That day, a late attack from Vincenzo Nibali took the win. This stage is much harder than that, and that one was tough!
The peloton look like being lucky and catching a dry spell of weather. There won’t be much sun and the temperatures will not be high, but they will stay dry. The final stage will have the added complication of crosswind. As if it wasn’t hard enough!
Scott Thwaites – the local lad, riding with the African team. After an impressive spring campaign, Thwaites arrives at his home race with a little pressure on his shoulders. His team have not enjoyed enough success yet this season and this is a race they will hope he can do well in. Knowing the roads is a huge advantage, but he’ll need great legs too.
Soren Kragh Andersen – the Dane has the ability to do well in this race. His team aren’t overly strong, so he’ll find the final stage hard, but he should be able to finish in the top 8.
Maurits Lammertink – after a solid, but unspectacular Ardennes campaign, the Dutch rider arrives with a good chance of success. The final stage is very good for him and Katusha should be able to offer him some protection deep into the race. He has a great chance of finishing on the podium.
Steven Kruijswijk – the Jumbo man is just back from Teide and looking to get three solid days of racing in his legs before he heads to the Giro. He was 5th here last season and will look to test his legs in the final stage. Riding without pressure, I expect a good result from the Dutchman, but he’ll be taking no risks with the Giro just one week away.
Stephane Rossetto – the last man standing from the break in LBL. That was a very gutsy performance from the Frenchman. He was 4th here in 2015 and riders always like coming back to races where they have experienced success. I think he’d be delighted with another top 5 result.
Tommy Voeckler – the defending champion is back. It was quite a big surprise to see him winning in 2016 and I can’t see it happening again. His best days are behind him.
Brent Bookwalter – the American just finished 11th in the Tour of the Alps, so his form is good. BMC arrive with 6 riders, they could have brought 8, so they are a little weakened compared to some of the other squads. Bookwalter also packs a fast sprint, that is crucial in a race where bonus seconds are important.
Sky – for the first time since the race started, Sky don’t arrive with a big race favourite. British races are usually very important for the squad, but with lots of climbers required for the Giro and Romandie, they are lacking a bit here. Looking at their team, it seems that Tao Geoghegan Hart will get his first chance at race leadership. The 22 year old is in his neo-pro year with the team and will relish a chance in a British race. He is a talented climber and Sky possess a team capable of making the race very hard on stage 3. Saying that, it would still be an upset if he won.
Dimension Data are the strongest team here. They will be able to control the moves heading into Sheffield and I think Scott Thwaites will be a very popular winner.
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