By David Hunter
Northallerton – Harrogate 54km
The big one has arrived.
After experimenting with a few shorter routes in 2016 and 2017, the UCI have designed the longest route since 2013. The length will be a massive factor in deciding the winner, it’s one for the pure specialists.
We begin with 15km of flat, before the roads start to roll. You might have realised that the roads in this area are heavy, making it harder than the profile suggests, but you still wouldn’t call the route overly difficult. This is all about the riders who can hold a fast pace for over 1 hour of racing, something that isn’t particularly easy!
We’ve had lots of rain already this week, but Wednesday looks like being one of the better days, but that’s not saying much. After a huge amount of rain on Tuesday, the rain is going to continue throughout the night. Once the day dawns, we’re likely to get rain throughout the day. The rain will be much lighter than the other days, but it should still be wet roads for all.
Rohan Dennis – not raced his bike since that ill-fated day in the Tour de France, which was 18th July. For those who don’t remember, the Aussie was posted missing for a few hours after stepping off his bike and not telling his team. He did manage to tell his manager, who seemed to be on the scene in record time. Now, riders have to pull out of grand tours for a variety of reasons, the problem is that Dennis didn’t actually give us one. He wasn’t sick, he hadn’t crashed, and the ITT was the following day. The rumour mill went mad, but make no mistake, Rohan Dennis massively let down his teammates, particularly those he “stole” a Tour de France spot from. He denied another rider the chance of riding the big race, he should be utterly ashamed of his actions. To simply walk away from the race showed a lack of respect to his teammates and staff members, it just isn’t acceptable. He will be competing in this race on an unbranded bike, with no word about which team he’ll ride for in 2020, it’s highly unlikely to be Bahrain-Merida. His win in 2018 was breath-taking, and it is still possible for him to retain his title, but the lack of competitive racing in his legs must be a worry, as is his current mental state.
Victor Campenaerts – Campy hasn’t raced since 30th June, but this was all part of his plan. The hour record holder knows what’s required to go deep over a long period of time, no doubt he’s been following a similar training regime to back at the start of the year. The Belgian has enjoyed a very strong season, but it is surprising that Lotto didn’t offer him a nice big contract, instead he’s off to Dimension Data in 2020, or Team NTT as they’ll now be known. When the Belgian sets his sights on something, he usually hits the target.
Primož Roglič – his chances all depend on how he’s recovered after winning the Vuelta, just 10 days ago. The Slovenian has been brilliant this season, sweeping all before him. His TT performances have been of the highest order, but will he cope with such a long effort, so close to his Vuelta win? As he’s still relatively new to professional cycling, he doesn’t have a huge amount of experience at competing in long TTs, but he did win the 2016 Giro ITT over 40km. Looking back at 2012, Bradley Wiggins won the yellow jersey and the gold medal in the Olympics ITT, with just 10 days in-between. It can be done, but it’s incredibly difficult to do so.
Remco Evenepoel – could he? Of course he can! Just 19 years old, but he’s already the European TT champion. The problem will be the distance, but don’t be surprised to see him on the podium at the end of the day.
Kasper Asgreen – the silent assassin. The Dane has enjoyed a remarkable debut season in the World Tour, finishing 2nd in Flanders after riding on the front for a huge portion of the day, he quickly followed this up with a stage win in the Tour of California, and 3rd place on GC. You might remember he also made his Tour de France debut, again riding on the front for hundreds of kilometres, but he still found the energy to finish 2nd on stage 17. The future is incredibly bright for Kasper, he’ll be looking to test himself in this event and see what could be possible in the future.
Paddy Bevin – a strong outsider for the bronze medal. It’s been a long season for the Kiwi, remember he was flying in the TDU back in January, only a crash stopped him from winning the ochre jersey. His TT results have been solid, the best one was 2nd place in the recent race against the clock in the Vuelta, just 25 seconds behind Roglič. Fingers crossed Mr Consistent can spring a little surprise.
Dennis v Campenaerts v Roglič. Can the two riders who haven’t raced for a long time beat the guy who could be knackered after the Vuelta? Are the two simply well rested? Has Roglič held his form? So many questions, so few answers. The word on the street is that Campy is flying, so I’ll go for Victor Campenaerts to take his first world title.
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