Tour of the Basque Country 2021 – Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Bilbao > Bilbao 13.8km ITT

We start with a TT.

13.8km isn’t that long, and we do have two climbs to deal with too, which means the climbers shouldn’t lose too much time to the specialists.

The riders climb from the start ramp, 2.4km at 7.2%. We then have close to 10km of downhill, on a wide road, which is where the powerhouses will make their mark, but there is a sting in the tail.

The final 300m averages 12.3%, I love the organisers!

Weather

The wind is coming from the north-west, and it’s to strengthen a little throughout the day. A lot of the route is sheltered by trees, but the majority of the run will be headwind, so starting early is best, but not by much.

Contenders

Primož Roglič – 3rd in the Paris-Nice TT, but this route should be better for him. The hill at the start should allow Roglič to put time into most of his rivals, this is a big chance to win the stage, but it won’t be easy. Much will depend on his current shape, but I do expect him to be challenging for the win.

Tadej Pogačar – he’ll want to beat Roglič, that will secure a psychological advantage for the races ahead. The Slovenian has already impressed on his TT bike this season, he was 4th in both the UAE Tour and Tirreno TTs. Just like Roglič, this is a good route for him and an important moment in the GC battle.

Ion Izagirre – he starts the defence of his title with a discipline he’s good at. I don’t think he’ll win, but he should be challenging for the podium.

Max Schachmann – he won the TT back in 2019, it contained a hard climb too. The German is very strong on his TT bike and he’ll love the look of this course. After performing well in Paris-Nice, this is a big chance to take a win.

Mattia Cattaneo – the Italian is a solid rider; he should be challenging for the top 10.

Hugh Carthy – he’ll be wanting a good performance to set him up for the rest of the week. He was 25th in the Catalunya TT, but I think he’ll do much better here.

Josef Černy – the climbs make it very hard for him to win.

Thomas De Gendt – his stage win in Catalunya was brilliant, I think we’ll now see him much more competitive in this discipline. He’s not been at his best yet on his TT bike this season, but the confidence he’ll take from his win will be worth a few watts.

Andreas Leknessund – the youngster flies on his TT bike. This is a chance to show everyone just how strong he is, the climbs are also good for him.

Adam Yates – do not write him off. He showed in Catalunya that his TT has massively improved, he finished 35 seconds behind Rohan Dennis on a relatively flat route. He will be desperate to not lose time to the Slovenians, so he needs a big ride. This route is much better for him compared to Catalunya; it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the top 5.

Brandon McNulty – 4th in both the Paris-Nice and Catalunya TTs, the young American is going very well on his TT bike. Just like many of the other contenders, this route is very good for him and he should be challenging for the win.

Prediction Time

He’s out early and should get the best wind conditions, it’s a win for Primož Roglič.

David Hunter

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