Back at it with my favorite 2.1 race in the early season. We we see a very different route compared to the past few editions, one without Le Mont Bouquet.
The same stage as we saw last year. All about the sprint and bonus seconds in the Bellegarde. We sometimes see echelons on this stage.
The Rousson climb is back! It was used back in 2022, seeing Coquard winning after a day with echelons. Another steep kicker.
Another change. No longer as difficult if you ask me, unless the race opens up further out. It could be a day for the sprinters, De Lie won here in 2023.
Still an uphill finish but much easier than Le Mont Bouquet.
The TT stays the same.
Much easier edition, it no longer suits a climber. The bonus seconds will play a large role in the first four stages. The TT will provide time gaps, while stage 3 and stage 4 is where the climbers have to come out and play.
Unfortunately for the racing part, it does look like echelons. It looks warm and sunny.
Bettiol – Is he in shape or not? With top 10s in Trofeo Calvià and Trofeo Pollença – Port d’Andratx they will not distance him here. The question is then, how will he do against the clock? In 2022, he finished 2nd overall and the 2024 edition suits him more.
Healy – he is the best climber here. The difficult thing will be to use it. I think he will find it difficult to get bonus seconds but we don’t have many sprinters starting. The TT is good for him, as it has a climb where he can make up time.
Mads Pedersen – to me, the new route is good news for him. He could take four out of five stage wins here. The question is, is stage 4 too difficult for him? Even if dropped, he has a margin, he may still win it all. It depends on his current shape, he is usually a slow starter.
B. Thomas – a good route for him. Recently with a 6th place in Trofeo Pollença – Port d’Andratx indicates he maybe is back to his 2022 level. That makes a serious contender.
Geniets – a strong climbing performance in GP Marseille. He can do a good time trial when he has too. I think a top-10 is the most likely spot for him.
Vauquelin – the form looked mighty good in GP Marseille. He should be one of the best against the clock and I do not see them distancing him on the climbs this edition. A podium contender.
Leknessund – I was surprised to see UNO-X at GP Marseille. We will have to see if he can contest for the win here as he is a good time trialist.
Cort – on paper, he could get some bonus seconds on many of the stages. We saw in Portugal last year that he sometimes kicks the year off with a good shape.
Van Moer – it could be a good route for him. It all depends if he can stay in contention on the flat stages, as he could manage a good placement against the clock.
Who will win?
I think bonus seconds and the time trial is what matters. We also have to factor form, now everyone is going to be as good as we expect them.
I will go with Kevin Vauquelin. His attack in GP Marseille was impressive.