By David Hunter
Doncaster – Selby 169km
We start with a sprint.
Nothing much to say about this stage, it’s all about the quick men.
A relatively easy sprint finish, but rain will make it harder. The battle will be on for the turn with 4km remaining, but that road is already a little narrow; wise teams will hit the front from 6km out. Once the turn is made, and the level crossings dealt with, there won’t be a lot of space to move up the bunch, as the road is tight. It’s a stage where sprinters need to get in position earlier than usual.
It looks like this could be a wet one, with rain predicted for the afternoon. The bunch might be lucky and just miss the worst of it.
Mark Cavendish – got a confidence boost over in Turkey, finishing one of the stages on the podium. It’s been a long battle back after glandular fever for the Manx Missile, one that has severely tested his mental strength. He always likes riding in Yorkshire, the birthplace of his mother, and he comes with Eisel and Renshaw to guide him in the closing kilometres. Against the sprinters in this field, Cav will be very disappointed if he doesn’t challenge for the win.
Chris Lawless – riding for Team INEOS, you don’t get many opportunities as a sprinter. Lawless seized one of those chances in Scheldeprijs, taking a fine 3rd place. He is a rider with a fast turn of speed, but his results don’t really show it. INEOS will want some early results and this is a good opportunity. Many teams don’t have a proper sprint train, but Lawless will be confident his team can put him into a good position, it will then be over to him to deliver a big result.
Gabs Cullaigh – up and coming sprinter, riding for Wiggins Le Col. He’s already achieved some impressive results, but he prefers a sprint after a tough day in the saddle. I don’t think he’ll have the speed required to beat the main sprinters here.
Dan McLay – the EF rider is here with the GB team. Despite having a fine turn of speed, McLay is a hugely inconsistent sprinter. Looking at the rest of the sprinters at the race, he should be confident of challenging for wins, but does he believe in himself after a tough period? This is contract year, he’ll need some impressive performances if he wants to remain with a world tour team.
Jacob Hennessy – a fast youngster, who rides for Canyon. This team have been lightening up the UK scene and they’ll be hoping for a big result from one of their sprinters. It looks like Hennessy and McCarthy will have freedom in the sprints, but I think Hennessy has a better opportunity. Just 22, he still has a lot to learn, but he has the speed to challenge for a podium spot.
First race on home soil for Team INEOS and a first win. With questions still surrounding Cavendish and co., I’ll go with Chris Lawless. He is quick, he just doesn’t get to show it very often.
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