By David Hunter
Welcome to my home race, The Tour of Britain. The race starts in the south-west of England and ends in the north-east of Scotland, the riders can expect to spend a lot of time on the team bus! The route is usual mix of sprints, punchy finishes and a TTT.
The opening stage is harder than it looks, I doubt it ends in a big sprint.
Another tough day in the saddle, this stage contains the most climbing of any stage throughout the week. Again, it’s not really one for the pure sprinters, but it does suit the puncheurs, and we have quite a few at the race.
An 18km TTT, which is much better than the 28km route the organisers had initially planned. The gaps will likely not be too big between the big teams, or at least I hope not as it would ruin the GC battle.
The big stage. The final climb is a monster, it is 1.8km at 10%, but the opening 900m averages 14%. Make no mistake, this climb is a leg breaker.
This should be the first real sprint stage.
A classic breakaway stage.
Another sprint stage, it finishes in Edinburgh, and I’ll be there!
We have a huge climb close to the start of the stage, we’ll have to see how the GC riders want to tackle this one. This stage could be a GC day, one for the break or a sprint. The GC situation will dictate the type of stage we get.
To win this race you need to ride for a team who’ll do well in the TTT, be able to cope with the wall climb on stage 4 and it also helps if you can sprint to collect bonus seconds.
Deceuninck – Quick Step – the Belgians have Alaphilippe and Honoré as their two GC options. Both riders were strong in Plouay, but they lost out to Cosnefroy. The team will expect to do well in the TTT, and the wall climb suits both of their protected riders. I would expect both to be challenging for the win and having two options puts them in a strong position.
Jumbo-Visma – they arrive with Wout Van Aert, not a bad option to have! 2021 has already been a brilliant year for Van Aert, just look at his results. He won two stages in Tirreno and was 2nd on GC, he won Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold, then it was three stage wins in the Tour de France, before silver in Tokyo. Without doubt he’s the best all round rider in the world, and he’s only going to get better. Jumbo-Visma will do well in the TTT, and he can basically win every other stage in the race. Wout starts as the man to beat.
Ineos – another team with two options, I would expect Hayter and Kwiatkowski to be their main men. The wall climb might be a little on the hard side for Hayter, but he has climbed well this season. The squad look capable of doing very well in the TTT, and Hayter can pick up bonus seconds in most stages. His chances of winning the GC will all depend on the wall climb, can he follow the big moves?
Matteo Jorgenson – he looked strong in the recent German Tour, and I expect him to be even better here. Movistar will lose time in the TTT, so I doubt Matteo will be challenging for the win, but he should be in the mix for a couple of stage wins.
Connor Swift – in the form of his life, do not discount him. Okay, he’ll lose time in the TT, but I think he should be fighting for a top 10 on GC and a stage win.
James Shaw – what a season he’s had, and it’s landed him a contact back in the big time. His performances in the Tour of Slovenia and Tour of Norway were brilliant, he’ll approach his home race full of confidence. As he riders for a continental team you would normally expect him to lose lots of time in the TTT, but Ribble Weldtite will do well against the clock as they have some big engines. Shaw won’t be winning the race, but he can finish in the top 5, which would be a brilliant result.
It’s got to be Wout Van Aert.
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