Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic Preview
On the back of the first weekend after the Tour, Great Britain will host only the 8th edition of this sprinters' classic that is raced around London, the region's sole Word Tour race. Despite being rated for sprinters and having familiar names in the winner list, it's still a very interesting race that every year is attacked on the hilly terrain halfway the race, which this year will be more complicated and more favourable to the attacker than usual.
It's not exactly a hard race but it is one very interesting and open one at fact, unlike most World Tour classics this one is actually quite short, it starts and finishes in London and the bulk of the riding is in it's outskirts, going through and centering - specially this year - on Box Hill, the climb used in the 2012 olympics where it has gained inequable reputation in Great Britain.
It's a very simple route to analyze actually, the opening 30 kilometers are very flat, they will allow a breakaway to break clear from the pack but soon enough the climbing starts, after a single passing in Newlands Corner there circuit around Box Hill begins.
There will be 5 laps of a rugged circuit, the first summit comes with 134.5 kilometers to go and the final ascent of this climb is 52 kilometers away from the finish. This means that a little over 80 kilometers will be ridden in this circuit, the climbs will allow attacks to come in the peloton and the rolling terrain inbetween them will allow some attacks to consolidate, but only after the final ascent can there be an organization, where the sprinter teams will look to gather themselves and start a full-on chase to the riders that will certainly be attacking the circuit.
After leaving the circuit the riders will be faced with this, roads that aren't too wide, a lot of vegetation involved and despite not being a technical run-up back to London through it's suburbs they aren't roads where it's easy to spot riders ahead, which may be a psychological advatage to those in front, and there have been editions where there were small groups making it to the line, specially as the weather can make these roads even more attrocious.
The final kilometers will be ridden by the Thames river and in the run-up to the line the race goes towards the center of London where it will finish, in the infamous The Mall, this year through the opposite direction as of the last few years. The final straight is now from west to east and is 500 meters long, still a wide road despite being shortened due to the barriers but it should allow for a regular sprint finish, wether it's the peloton or a small group of riders deciding the race.
Southern wind, around 15Km/h and yes this does mean there will be dangerous attacks, there's a tailwind after leaving the circuit and it stands for most of the way back to London, it will make for an even harder task to control the riders who will surely be escaped after the last climb of Box Hill.
It will surely be an attacked race on the circuit, this will define the dynamics of the race4 as some teams will focus their efforts in that section of the race, some wil try to race as conservative possible and some will try to launch riders to the front so as to spare their teammates behind.
Even between the sprinters there are two groups coming in, the first is the riders that are coming from the Tour. There is Caleb Ewan, he was the strongest sprinter in France, he had a good leadout but it never really worked, but here it's important to have riders strong enough to chase, it won't be an easy ask as only Jasper de Buyst raced with him in the Tour and the team is rather weak and inexperienced in comparison with other.
There's Elia Viviani, coming with a rather strong team with some riders capable of attacking but i'll mention them later, as leadout he has Michael Morvkov and Alvaro Hodeg, not only them but they are expected to be the riders close to him. There's also Michael Matthews and Sonny Colbrelli who will want a very hard race, I wouldn't be surprised to see them attack by themselves, Colbrelli has Phil Bauhaus in the squad and he may be the bet for a bunch sprint. There's Niccolo Bonifazio who was a nice surprise in the sprints and also Giacomo Nizzolo who had to abandon the race prematurely after a crash but is being backed up by Ryan Gibbons in case he falters. There is too Alexander Kristoff who is a rider for the classics, he isn't coming with a leadout but does have a solid team to position and chase, it will likely be UAE's role in the race, lastly I'll also mention the impressive duo of Mike Teunissen and Amund Jansen who will be leading Jumbo-Visma's squad.
The ones that are coming from training or minor racing are significant aswell, Sam Bennett the obvious name on the startline, he's being supported by a team full of rouleurs that suits the race very well, they should be focusing on Bennett specifically and try to bring back the moves for him. Arnaud Démare is coming straight from Wallonie, he's won three stages since leaving a somewhat successful Giro and is a rider that suits well this type of race, as Bennett he's coming with a very focused team all-in for him, one of the teams that will be looking for alliances.
There are some outsider sprinters, I would expect Davide Cimolai to keep up the good streak of results he's piling on this season, Trek has an interesting duo in Jasper Stuyven and Matteo Moschetti, someone I will be cheering for in Jonas Koch leading CCC after what's been an absolute underdog but great season, and finally Kristofer Halvorsen and Chris Lawless are interesting names leading INEOS tomorrow.
This is important because there's a tradition in an attacked race and I expect nothing less seeing the race is a tad harder than previous years, plus the weather conditions benefit and give a bit more hope for those looking to make some damage.
Deceuninck have maybe the best cards to play, Phillipe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar will be here and will most certainly be played as cards for the team. Katusha and AG2R for example are teams that will be playing in this field, Katusha have Nils Pollit who has a reputation for an agressive kind of racing and this one seems ideal for his qualities, as for AG2R they have Oliver Naesen from which I can say the same.
Remaining with the Belgian theme Sep Vanmarcke has been showing good form lately and I wouldn't be surprised to see him try aswell. You see the thing with Box Hill is that it's hard but "easy" enough to see heavy riders attacking, the big powerful classics riders who can make this a hard race. Mitchelton will also be an interesting team to watch, they have Daryl Impey, Cameron Meyer and Jack Bauer as riders I imagine seeing on the offensive too. These mixed with some other riders in good days, with a good sense of tactics and/or opportunity, this is where the dangers may come from.
Bora/FDJ/Lotto/UAE - The teams that will be focusing solely on the sprint, bringing the attacker back and the alliances will surely come from these teams.
Deceuninck/Sunweb/Trek - These teams have options for the sprint but I see them attacking in the circuit, they have the cards to play that game.
DD/Bahrain/Jumbo/Direct Energie/INEOS/Israel - These will be a bit undefined, they all rely on their sprinters for their best results but don't have the pressure thus can also attack if they have the chance.
Katusha/EF/AG2R/Mitchelton - These teams will likely rely solely on their attacking, I expect some riders in the breakaway and early moves to try and force the breakaway into splitting.
CCC - Attacking will be the main, a bit lower level than the other teams but they've got cards for all possbilities.
Delko/GB - The minor teams that will likely be targeting the breakaways, shouldn't have many goals outside of that baring a shot of luck.
⭐ Matthews, Colbrelli, Nizzolo, Stuyven, Gilbert, Naesen, Vanmarcke, Pollit
My call for for Sam Bennett to take the win in his first outing with the Irish National champion jersey. Bora is strong, is on a roll and is all-in for him, he's powerful enough to go over the climbs easily and several teams will try to bring it back aswell, he's maybe the best sprinter (arguably) in the race so I would say he has the upper hand.
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