By David Hunter
Alanya – Kemer 176.7km
The race begins with one for the sprinters. Get ready for some beautiful shots of the Mediterranean Sea, as the riders hug the coastline for much of the stage.
We have just one categorised climb, a small cat 4 effort to give the jersey away. This stage is a nailed on sprint.
A pinch point at 2km to go, but this is a very easy finish for the sprint trains.
The last kilometre does rise, but it’s more of a false flat. Again, this is nothing to worry about.
Beautiful sunshine, with a slight wind coming off the sea.
Views From The Bunch
After a successful debut for Giro dell’Emilia, this section is back! This time round, I called on Edward Theuns, of Trek-Segafredo, for a little preview help.
It’s been a long hard season, how much is left in the tank?
“Indeed it was a hard season, but I had a good break halfway through the year with my surgery. I came good out of the Vuelta and the form is still there. Mentally it is just hard to keep training, but I did some kermesses to cover that…”
This is your last race for Trek. Is signing off with a win helping to motivate you late in the season?
“I don’t need that as a motivation, I am always motivated to win. Late or early in the season, doesn’t make a big difference for me actually. But I’m a bit more relaxed, because my season doesnt stand or fall with this race.”
With less world tour teams, do you expect some crazy sprints?
“I don’t know. I hope the stronger teams can get some lines in the sprint, because I like it more that way… we’ll see but I’m here with a good leadout team, so I hope the strongest guys will go to the front.”
Sam Bennett – the Irishman looks like the man to beat, fresh from a hugely impressive win in Germany, beating Greipel, Kittel, Bauhaus, Groenewegen and Kristoff. He’s enjoyed a good season with Bora and is reaping the rewards of all his hard work. He took his first World Tour win in Paris-Nice and knows this is a brilliant chance to take a few more, before the season is over. His sprint train looks very strong, with Schwarzmann, Muhlberger, Archbold and Pelucchi.
Edward Theuns – fresh from winning a local kermesse, he is still full of motivation, despite being late in the season. The Belgian is very similar to Bennett, they both took their first WT wins in 2017. Trek have made a huge mistake in letting him sign for Sunweb, a decision I am sure they will regret in 2018. He arrives with a solid looking sprint train. The likes of Coledan, Alafaci and Van Poppel should be competing with Bora in the closing kilometres.
Marko Kump – I think a 2nd place in the BinckBank Tour and in the Brussels Cycling Classics has earned his right to sprint, but as he is joining CCC in 2018, UAE might be tempted to go with Consonni. Kump is hugely underrated sprinter and UAE have not used him properly. If he gets his chance, he certainly can finish on the podium.
Riccardo Minali – the neo-pro started his season off with a good performance back in February. Now in October, it remains to be seen what he has left. The Italian is a fast sprinter and can certainly challenge for the win. In Ruslan Tleuvayev, he has a very fast lead out man. Expect to see the Astana duo in the mix with 500m to go.
The Unusual Suspects!
Frantisek Sisr – the CCC sprinter. Not that fast, but should be capable of a top 10 finish.
Alexander Porsev – it’s not been a great year for Porsev, but he did win the Russian title. He will be wearing that jersey with pride, but I’ve not seen anything from him in 2017 that makes me think he’ll challenge for the podium.
Manuel Belletti – journeyman Italian sprinter. He will be backed up by Liam Bertazzo, the talented track rider. Could go top 5 on a very good day.
Justin Jules – he’s ending the season with serious form! The Veranclassic rider was 2nd in Vendee and 4th in Paris-Bourges, both were impressive performances. Despite riding for a “smaller” team, he’ll have his heart set on a World Tour win.
Vincenzo Albanese – young sprinter with Bardiani. We’ve not seen him mixing it up in many sprints, but remember he was 5th in the under 23 road race, in Bergen. I have been surprised that he hasn’t had more sprinting opportunities, Bardiani are not using him to his full potential. In a smaller field, he could be one of the big surprises this week.
Francesco Gavazzi – it’s been a consistent season for the Androni rider, but he hasn’t managed a win. With 3 World Tour wins to his name, he’s the most successful sprinter in the race. Problem is that he’s not as fast as he used to be, but a podium is still achievable.
Ahmet Orken – the Turkish hope! The 24 year old, usually rides for Torku Sekerspor, but he’ll be riding for the national team in this race. His 5 wins in 2017, have been rewarded with a contract with the Israel Cycling Academy in 2018. One to keep an eye on.
Irish eyes will be smiling, thanks to a Sam Bennett win. His battle with Theuns should be great to watch, but the flat sprint should suit Bennett a little more, especially as he seems to have the strongest sprint train too.
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