It is time for a time trial. A climb at the start, a middle section which will be very fast and a hard finish.
The first half is quite simple, it is not like we have many corners. We finish with a climb. We have 188 climbing meters, which is almost double last year’s time trial.
The hills at the start.
A hill of 1.25 km at 4.4%. A short descend and the riders want to keep that momentum going of the next two shorter hills.
The fast middle section.
Coming off the last hill from above, it is a descend, into a corner before the flat stats. Then we have 4.5 – 5 km for the specialist before the last kilometer.
The hard finale.
After the faster section, they take a switchback. Then it is uphill almost all the way to the finish. 600 meters at 9.2%.
I write it every time, but the weather is important here. The first rider starts at 13:05, Laporte at 15:45. It will be sunny without any rain throughout the day which means dry roads. A slight headwind for most of the stage. A slight favor for the late starters if we trust the forecast.
Wout van Aert is in top-top shape. The hilly route suits him too and he has the kick to go up the last ramp. I expect him to continue his current steam – finishing inside the top 3.
Christophe Laporte is flying. He has become extremely gifted after joining Jumbo-Visma, which is no coincidence. Unfortunately, he crashed today. I could imagine him doing very well with the Jumbo-Visma TT set.
Primoz Roglic is looking good too, but I do think he looked the most tired of him and Wout on the first stage. He is normally very good in these hilly TT’s and has a good punch.
Stefan Küng is another man in great form. I think he will lose some time up the steep ramp. Not much, but enough to not take the win.
Stefan Bissegger took the win in UAE Tour. This is a different route. The length is very good for him, he is often better on shorter distances. He won here last year, can he do it again?
Joao Almeida is the first rider from UAE I expect a good result from. He missed the echelons, which means he sits quite far back in the GC, I wonder if he will take it easy and look for a breakaway in the coming days. It wouldn’t make sense, I expect a good result – a top 10 seems reasonable. Form is clearly good looking at UAE.
Brandon McNulty also missed the echelons. He starts quite early, which I do not think is good. He was very good last year in the time trials close to this distance, but I doubt he can win against this field.
Rohan Dennis has been saving himself a bit the last three stages. Working for the team and sit up. It means he starts quite early, but it means he is quite fresh after three hard stages. I think he will be hard to beat.
Ethan Hayter has been rather disappointing but it is probably due to covid in the pre-season. Fighting for a stage win today tells me he is getting better. Hard to win against this field, but a top-10.
Pierre Latour – is having a good start to the season – top 10.
Who will win?
It is never good to start early, but Dennis has been saving himself for this stage. I will take a win for the Australian.