By David Hunter
Imola 31.7km ITT
The race of truth.
We have a fairly flat 31.7km course. We do have three short hills in the final 6km, but these are almost inconsequential. This is a power course, one with hardly any points where riders need to use their brakes.
Sunny, but with lots of wind. It will be a raging headwind for the opening 15km, then a huge tailwind for most of the route back to town. Pacing this effort will be very difficult and hugely important. Crucially, the wind should be relatively consistent for all. Rain is due later in the evening, hopefully it doesn’t come early.
Rohan Dennis – the defending champion is here with a little pressure on his shoulders, thanks to his Ineos teammate Pippo Ganna. In the recent TT in Tirreno, Dennis finished 26 seconds behind his pal over just 10.1km. Now, that doesn’t necessarily transfer over to a 31km TT, but it’s not a great sign. In the advantage of the Aussie is his experience at this level, and his ability to peak at the right time. Most didn’t give him a hope of winning last year, but he proved them all wrong with a hugely dominant ride. Backing it up in Italy will be hard, but he does like a challenge.
Filippo Ganna – can the Italian cope with the pressure of being the big favourite? His ride in Tirreno was nothing short of sensational, he averaged 56.6km/h for 10km. We all know he’s an incredible track rider, but Ganna is now converting over into being a top TT rider. One issue is his inexperience, particularly over this distance. He has won his national title over a longer course, but he doesn’t have many big results in other TTs when the distance is over 30km. Being the home favourite will provide some extra motivation, but also a lot more pressure compared to the other riders.
Tom Dumoulin – his TT performance in the Tour was actually really good, it’s just that Pogačar was exceptional. After such a long time without racing, I would expect Dumoulin to benefit from Tour legs. He was the world champion in 2017, but his TT performance has declined slightly as he chased grand tour success, it’s only natural as he slims down for the big mountains. Winning this title against the pure specialists won’t be easy.
Wout Van Aert – will he be tired? Probably not! Van Aert is sensational on the TT bike, a rider who’s yet to reach his full potential. I think this title is too early for him as he continues to develop on the road.
Remi Cavagna – posted a hugely impressive time in the Tour, but winning this one will be incredibly difficult. If he performs at his very best, he could sneak onto the podium.
Stefan Küng – winner of the European title, but I just can’t see him challenging for the world title. Küng is good, but not good enough.
Victor Campenaerts – was the closest to Ganna in Tirreno, finishing 18 seconds down. The Belgian is very strong against the clock, but he just doesn’t win enough.
Geraint Thomas – it’s interesting to see him choosing the TT over the road race. Thomas looked good in Tirreno, but he’d have to be at 100% to challenge for a medal in this race. Is he at his top level?
With a lot of wind forecast, experience will be crucial, so it’s a win for Rohan Dennis.
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