We kick things off with a time trial. I always think it is a better option compared to the bunch sprint on the first day.
They are racing near the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The important thing is saving just a bit for the last climb. It comes after 17 km of racing. The first 17 km are straight forward but the last 2.9 km have corners.
Then, a very sharp corner to the left corner. There are some cobbles near the top but they are in good condition.
From the top there are a few corners before the line and a descent.
Barely any wind, a cross-tailwind for the stage here. No rain and high temperatures. As they will race near the coast, the wind may be a bit stronger than 2-3 m/s.
Evenepoel – he will be the best GC rider against the clock. Now, I do not think he has spent to much time on the TT bike beforehand, it is his climbing in the third week he should have looked to improve. He is one of the best time trialists in the world, but this is mostly flat with a kick towards the end. He will finish on the podium, the way he raced in LBL showed he is ready to get a margin towards his closest competitors.
Küng – I really like what I have been seeing from him this season. He is not climbing as well this year as he was last spring, where he had good results on both Algarve and Paris-Nice. This is the type of length he usually shines at. He is right up there with Remco and Ganna but the last little kicker is not ideal. He too will finish on the podium.
Ganna – Can he do a hattrick? I still firmly believes he is the best time trialist in the world but he has not been too dominant this year (yes, in Tirreno-Adriatico he won, but he raced on dry roads while the others raced on wet). The way he climbed in Milano-Sanremo tells me that the little kicker will not be a problem.
Thomas – He is consistent and should fight for a top-5 spot.
Arensman – My joker. Got his fair share of criticism in Tour of the Alps but he got stronger and stronger throughout the race. A short effort like this should be something he could challenge for a top-10.
Roglic – He will look to limit his losses against Remco. Still, he should fight for a top-5.
Pedersen – will look to take the Maglia Rosa on one of the following stages. He is a good time trialist but I think the route is a bit too long for him to challenge for the podium.
Cerny – the main issue is the last climb. I still think he is a safe shout for a top-10.
Kämna – Now going for the GC. I can see him wanting to get in contention, then trying for the break on stage 4 taking the jersey with a margin. He should be up there in the top-10.
*Dennis – is of course starting. Not easy making a draft when half the JV squad gets covid. He is past his best but he should still fight for a top-10.
There are so many good time trialists from the next tier. Tratnik, Barta, Hepburn, Vine, Almeida, McNulty, Mollema, Cort, Healy and Affini. – they will be fighting for the spots in the top-10 or just outside that.
⭐⭐⭐ Evenepoel, Küng
⭐⭐ Pedersen, Roglic, Thomas
⭐ Arensman, Kämna, Cerny, Dennis
Who will win?
Ganna will take a third win with Remco and Küng 2nd and 3rd.