By David Hunter
Poble Nou De Benitatxell – Calpe 23km TTT
Welcome to a horribly technical TTT.
The organisers planned a 30km route, but had to cut by 7km. That is good news for the non-specialist teams, but take a look at the map and you’ll see lots of problems for these teams.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TTT with as many corners! This will make the teams very nervous, even though most have already done the course as part of their training camps. The TT specialists will enjoy this, but most of the teams will find it very difficult to keep their riders together throughout the route. This could be a very long day for some.
There could well be rain throughout the day, making a hard day even harder. The wind is coming from the north-west, helping the riders throughout their run. The possibility of wet roads and a strong wind will make this a stage feared by most riders.
BMC – they won the TTT here in 2017 and of that squad they have Van Avermaet, Schar, Küng and De Marchi. Bringing in Bookwalter and Roelandts certainly won’t weaken them and they start the stage as the big favourite. With three riders just 29 seconds behind Valverde, they’ll be hoping to move into the race lead. They have been over in Calpe very recently and you can bet they have been training on these roads. We all expect a big performance.
Sky – this is a seriously powerful squad, with Kwiatkowski, Poels, De La Cruz, Kiryienka and Moscon. This would normally be enough to challenge in any TTT, but I do have a slight concern that Sky have not been training in the area and will have less knowledge of the course. Could this go against them? Also, will these guys be willing to take the risks required to win the stage?
Movistar – the Spaniards always go well on home soil, just think back to the 2017 Volta a Catalunya, before they had their time penalty added on. My main concern is about Valverde’s descending, not something you would normally worry about. In Mallorca, he took it easy on the wet descents, not wanting to risk anything after his crash in the Tour. Will he do that again?
Jumbo – the Dutch boys arrive without some of their usual TT riders, but still have some big engines. They will look towards Roglic, Powless, Van Emden and Van Hoecke to lay down the power and set a fast time. Like BMC, they have recently been training on these roads and will have a carefully set out plan, this is the Jumbo way! Expect them to be fighting for the stage win.
This really is a day for the specialists and I expect BMC to take a commanding win. Expect one of their team to be race leader at the end of the day.
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