By David Hunter
Stage 5 Recap
Movistar tried to set-up Valverde and delivered him into a great position. He attacked on the final climb but it was too late on. Contador followed and they were joined by Poels. On the descent they went very fast but the presence of Tony Martin was crucial in bringing them back. Incredibly Ben Swift of Team Sky was still in the peloton and he won the sprint, from Valverde.
Stage 6 Markina/Xemein – Markina/Xemein 25.9km
It’s time-trial time!
As usual the race ends with a TT, and a hard one.We have two climbs, both around the 4km mark and above 6%. The 2nd climb is really quite tough with some very steep sections. This is not a TT for the specialists(apart from Tony Martin!), but one for the climbers in form. Let’s take a look back at the 2013 route:
Tony Martin won on this course, beating Nairo Quintana by 17 seconds. The climbs here were much shorter and it allowed Tony to claim a lot of time back on the flat sections. This year the TT resembles the 2nd ITT in the 2013 Tour de France:
This was won by Chris Froome, with Alberto Contador finishing 9 seconds behind him.
The course seems somewhere in the middle of the TDF route and the 2013 route.
The first rider to look at is Alberto Contador. He spent time in the Winter working on his position. He did a very average time in Tirreno, but he had already won the race. What I did spot was that he no longer slid himself back along the saddle every 30 seconds. This is a step forward and he’ll be looking for a quick time here.
Tejay Van Garderen is an obvious contender. He is very able in this discipline and can climb too. He should end with a very quick time and break into the top 3 on GC.
JC Peraud will go well but he always seems to lack that little bit extra in the big TTs.
Michal Kwiatkowski already has form, winning in the Algarve. He will lose time on the climbs, but not too much. He should be very close to the podium.
Tom Dumoulin has been flying in TTs this season, winning in the Criterium and finishing 2nd in the Andalucia prologue. Can he cope with the climbs?
Alejandro Valverde did win the prologue in Andalucia, but it’s been a long time since he performed really well in a full ITT. He’ll be trying his best to cling onto a top 3 spot on GC.
Rui Costa has won hard TTs before and will want to make up for a poor race, but I think he’ll come up short in this company.
Tony Martin hasn’t won a TT yet this season. How much time can he make up on the descents? How much will he lose on the climbs?
I don’t see any of the other riders challenging for the stage.
Prediction time …. Now this is close! Tony Martin has been climbing extremely well in the race. He won stage 2 and stayed beside Kwiatkowski for most of stage 4 and all of stage 5. The profile isn’t perfect for him but he really should win. I see Tejay Van Garderen pushing him close. Although not showing great form, the American will have been working towards this TT. I also think that Alberto Contador won’t be too far behind these two. There could be a handful of seconds splitting these 3 and any one of them could win!
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