By David Hunter
Nimes 13.7km TTT
And so it begins.
The route looks technical to me, with lots of corners. All teams will have to be careful at the beginning of the stage, it does get easier as they leave the centre of Nimes. The organisers are having a laugh with the categorised climb, this is no more than a speed bump, a pathetic excuse to give the KOM jersey away.
Hot and sunny, with a consistent wind coming from the north.
BMC – they don’t arrive with their main TTT riders, except for Rohan Dennis and Daniel Oss, the only men in this squad to ride the World Championship TTT in 2016. However, they are still rammed full of TT quality with riders like De Marchi, Van Garderen and Caruso. Four of this eight man squad were in their winning squad back in the Catalunya TTT, a positive sign, but what will the late suspension of Samu Sanchez have done to the morale of the group. This will have hurt his teammates. When they cross the line, expect to see Fran Ventoso at the front of the bunch, as they try and put him into the red jersey, a reward for his excellent work this year.
Sky – they won the opening TTT in 2016, from that team they have Froome, Puccio, Knees and Lopez. Even though they look a little weak on paper, Team Sky always have a habit of delivering good results in this discipline, particularly in grand tours. A rider like Gianni Moscon will be very important, as he seems in particularly strong form just now. Remember he’s the Italian TT champion.
QuickStep – the current world champions have three of their Doha squad at this race:- Jungels, Terpstra and Lampaert. Adding some more power will be Alahphilippe, Trentin and De La Cruz. This looks like a well balanced squad, with power and experience. BMC put them to the sword, way back in the Tirreno TTT, I’m sure the battle between these two will again be very close. After regaining their world champions crown, QuickStep will want another big result here.
Bora – it’s very difficult to see anyone challenging the big three teams, but Bora could be the surprise package. Such a short TTT is great news for sprinters and riders with big engines. Bora have Benedetti, Kolar, Pfingsten, Schillinger and Schwarzmann. That screams power to me and they certainly should be targeting the top 5.
This is going to be very close between BMC and QuickStep, but I think BMC will just come out on top.
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