The first big warm up race for the Tour de France. I really like the route this year.
The first stage is a hilly one. What will change the outcome is perhaps the circuit around Chambon-sur-Lac, where we have a little climb. In total, the climb is 10.4 km at 4.6% but it is highly irregular. It should be a sprint.
Another hilly stage, with 3000 climbing meters. Another day with a circuit too. Is it tough enough for the GC men to sprint for seconds? It might be.
The easier of the “sprint” stages.
Big day, long time trial. With 30 km we should see some big gaps opening between the GC men.
The first serious test when it comes to climbing. Côte de Thésy is 3 km at 10%, that should make it an exciting GC day. I think everyone will be relatively fresh at this point, so I doubt we will see big gaps. It could be a solo winner with the attack on the descent.
We are just south of Genève here. The first mountain, Col des Aravis, is to be climbed – I do not think it is difficult enough for gaps. We will see a reduced sprint.
The first big battle in the mountains. Some very difficult and long climbs. It suits the diesels. We also get up to 2000 altitude meters – and looking at it, the last 7 km of Col de la Croix de Fer, looks tough enough for the GC gaps to open up-
Looks like a fantastic stage if you ask me. Why? No valleys. This will be much tougher than it looks as there is no time to catch your breath. We will see if the GC men are willing to risk it all on Col du Granier, 10 km at 9%, or everyone is afraid of La Bastille – a french mur.
Difficult to predict the day before, difficult to predict a week in advance. It looks like we may have a bit of rain the first easier stages and then the heat arrives with the mountains.
You need a good time trial and the whole climbing package – the diesel and the punch.
Jonas Vingegaard – it feels so odd to write it but he should be a level above the rest here. It is a very similar approach to his Tour de France win last season, there, he looked mighty sharp in the preparation race. I expect him to be the man to beat. The team looks a bit thin on the climbing side, I hope van Baarle and Benoot are climbing well.
O’Connor – not the best season he is having. Now it is time for the second chapter of it. He has been at Sierra Nevada preparing his time trial, he will lose about half a minute to the best GC men there. He was the third best man here in 2022, if he has the same climbing legs, he can finish on the podium again. I think a top-5 is likely.
Landa – Some season he is having. 7th in Valencianna, 2nd in Ruta del Sol, 7th in Tirreno-Adriatico, 5th in Catalunya, 2nd in Basque Country and 3rd in La Flèche Wallone. That is a very long spring campaign. Lets address the elephant in the room, the time trial. He will likely lose a minute or more which will be difficult to take back. It does mean something else, that he will attack. I think the time trial makes it impossible for him to win, he will likely finish just outside the top-5.
Martinez – he is an odd rider trying to get right. He is very good against the clock, probably even better than Vingegaard you could argue. He is punchy and he can deal with the longer climbs. The thing is, he is now 27 and to me a coinflip when it comes to performance. I hope the version we see the coming week is a better version than we saw the first months of racing.
Rodríguez – if Martinez again is off his high top-level, they should look to ride for the young man from Spain. After a long break, after his crash at Strade Bianche, he is back racing. We will see what shape he comes in, he will be one of the best against the clock – that may give us an indication of where his current shape is at.
Hindley – he said in an interview “that you should be ready from day 1 at the Tour”. Now, that is not rocket science but it means he may be better than he usually is at prep-races. He will lose time against the clock and I hope that means we see him on the attack.
Gaudu – falls in the same category. Time trial kills the chances of the podium likely.
Carapaz – alright, Carapaz. Not having the best season but it seems to be changing. He won Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes, the climbing legs are looking good. Now, there is a big gap when it comes to the competition there and here. So we will have to see how much time he loses against the clock too, I assume less than the likes of Landa.
Mas – he has the punch. He has the diesel. How much time will he lose against the clock? I don’t think it will be too bad. For me, he should be a very good contender for the podium. The team is lucky to have Jorgensen here too.
A. Yates – last bit of freedom for him. I often see him as a very, very good weeklong racer but I do not think he can win here. His time trial is the big mystery to solve. He goes well uphill – a good guess would be a somewhere within the top-10.
⭐⭐⭐ Martinez, Mas
⭐⭐ Carapaz, A. Yates, O’Connor
⭐ Rodriguez, Gaudu, Landa, Hindley
Who will win?