By David Hunter
Beverley – Doncaster 180.5km
We open with a boring looking sprint stage.
Just the one categorised climb, to give the KOM jersey away, before we get a big sprint.
Dry, cold and a little wind from the west.
A very easy run for home, except for the roundabout inside the final kilometre! The map suggests that only the left side will be open, that means a full sprint for position. If you are not in the first ten wheels, your day is over. Lead out trains will be crucial, especially if you can dominate from the 3km mark.
Mark Cavendish – Abu Dhabi, crashed into a car. Tirreno, crashed in the TTT and was HD. Milan-Sanremo, crashed into a bollard. The Manx Missile is more like the Manx Mortar. Lots of time has passed since his last crash, allowing him plenty of time to train hard, which should mean he is competitive in this race. Being a home race, his mum is from Yorkshire, he will be very keen to win the opening stage and lead the race. Despite all the crashes, he starts as the favourite.
Adam Blythe – another rider who hasn’t had the best 2018. The Yorkshire man has only managed to finish three of his last ten races, not a statistic you’d be bragging about. He’s had to endure crashes, illness and a loss of form, not great preparation for your home race. It will be hard to reverse this recent trend.
Chris Lawless – I hope Sky allow the young Englishman the chance to sprint and not Halvorsen. He took his first Sky win over in Coppi Bartali and followed that up with 3rd place in Scheldeprijs. Racing on home soil, it would be good to see him being the protected rider, as he could challenge for the win.
Magnus Cort Nielsen – had a little break after the classics, we’ll have to wait and see what his legs are like.
Bryan Coquard – despite a win in Oman, it’s not been a vintage year for Coquard. Signing for Vital Concept was a massive mistake and one he’ll regret. Sad times for the little French sprinter.
Chris Opie – experienced British sprinter. Opie popped up with 3rd place in the opening stage back in 2017, something he is capable of doing again. A result like that would be enormous for Canyon Eisberg, an English continental team.
Max Walscheid – the German has found chances hard to come by, but Sunweb do have a lot of sprinters on their books. They arrive at this race, looking to see if he can take his first win of the season. With Bauhaus and Teunissen to help, he has a great chance of beating Cavendish and being rather unpopular with the locals.
Gabriel Cullaigh – the Team Wiggins fast man is one of the rising stars of British cycling and will ride for Team GB in this race. 2018 has already been a good year for him, taking two wins in Volta ao Alentejo and winning the title in the Cicle Classic. He is exactly the type of rider who could surprise the big names.
No surprises, Mark Cavendish to take the win.
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