It’s time to enjoy some sunny days in the Middle East. Last year it was filled with crosswinds, I do hope to see the same again.
Short TT, but it creates the first gaps.
Jebel Jais. Not a very decisive climb but we often see the best of the favorites on the first mountain top finish
Jebel Hafeet is often the most decisive GC day.
It is hard to predict for the coming week. There is a chance for echelons and crosswinds, but what I can tell you is we will have warmth and sun.
Pogacar had covid not long ago. I am not sure how much it impacts you, but you can see the likes of Cosnefroy, Hayter, Asgreen perform poorly shortly after. He won here last year, and this is a very big goal for the team. He will be watched, but they do have a good back-up in Almeida.
Adam Yates was the second-best last year, losing most of the time against the clock. He will likely do the same this year even though he had some good results in Catalunya and Basque Country last season. I expect him to finish on the podium.
Bahrain with Bilbao and Mäder. Two strong options. Bilbao did not look that good in Valenciana but he does have a good TT. Mäder had an amazing season last year but I am not sure how good he is in echelons or this early in the season.
Powless, like Mäder, had a very good season last year. He was fifth here last time. He normally starts the season quite strong, but I am not sure if he can improve his result from last year. He will lose time against the clock.
Masnada with a mixed effort in Oman. He had problems uphill, and I do not think he will be good enough here to fight for the win. Perhaps it was the steep gradients in Oman, we will have to see.
Bardet had a mixed season last year. He is not good enough against the clock to win either.
Vlasov with a fantastic start to the new season. He will be one of the strongest uphill, but will lose some time against the clock.
Who will win?
I’m going to go with Pogacar.