With Strade Bianche done and dusted, racing returns to France. The annual week-long race from Paris to Nice.
What looks to be a day for the sprinters, but with hills in the last part of the stage. I think it is likely someone or a team will be up to something.
A day for the sprinters
It should be another day for the sprinters.
A time trial to get the first GC gaps.
Reminds me a bit of the last stage in Andalucia. Either we will see a GC battle very early on or a strong breakaway will get up the road.
To me it looks good for the breakaway as we likely have big enough time gaps after the fifth stage. Almost 3000 meters of climbing, the climbs are too easy for the GC men but likely too hard for the sprinters.
Col du Turini. Last used here in 2019 with Martinez taking the win.
The Nice stage. Last raced in 2019 with the breakaway taking the win.
There is always a chance of high winds in France which means we might see echelons. For the moment it does not look like it will be windy, but we will have rain on Friday and Saturday (Col du Turini).
Roglic is back. Some training rides in the one-day races in France but now unto the real deal. He crashed last year on the final stage, twice even. If he didn’t, he would have won by a landslide. He is always in very good shape and the course suits him. He is the man to beat and he has a stellar team to help him.
INEOS bring two strong riders. Adam Yates looked good in UAE Tour, almost good enough to distance Pogacar if he had had more ground. We all have seen how well Pogacar is going, and that tells us just how well Yates is going. He will lose time against the clock, but not too much. Martinez looked good in Portugal and has a better time trial. They make an interesting duo but I think they ride for Adam.
Bora – Hansgrohe is the current holder of the title. Schachmann has won here the last two years. His late-season start is due to a covid19 infection. We will have to see how well he is going, he has said is fit again. Vlasov has done well in February but I think the competition here is too hard. He will hope for the podium.
Bahrain – Victorious have Poels, who won in Andalucia, and Jack Haig who helped him win it. It is a good duo but I think the level is too high for them. I think they will both finish in the top-10 overall.
Gaudu crashed out of Trofeo Laigueglia. He was in the front group there and looked very strong. He is starting because he is fit too so I expect him to be up there, but he will lose time against the clock – too much to win.
G. Martin – has a poor TT but his current form is very good.
Quintana will look to drop everyone on Col du Turini and he might just do it. He will have to limit his loss against the clock, which is likely going to be too much.
O’Connor is in fine form too. I think Col du Turini is a great climb for him, but he will lose time against the clock. I have an idea he might win stage 8.
Simon Yates looked very good in Andalucia but there was not the preferable terrain for him to make it work. He loves a long climb, but he will like many others lose some time against the clock.
Who will win?
I will take a win for Roglic.