Tirreno Adriatico Stage 7 Preview
Julian Alaphillipe took a surprising win today in Tirreno-Adriatico, the stage was ridden at a high pace, and the Frenchman took advantage of a slightly uphill finish and an intelligent team strategy to take a shocking sprint win ahead of Davide Cimolai and Elia Viviani. The overall contenders all arrived safely in the peloton and all the gaps remain the same for tomorrow's time-trial.
Ballerini (Astana), King (Dimension Data), Van Hoecke (CCC), Maestri (Bardiani), Boev (Gazprom), Rojas (Movistar) and Quintana (Neri Sottoli) made it into the day's break, although they were never given much of a gap in this rolling terrain, they remained a threat as the rolling terrain made it for hard-to-chase speed.
With just a few Kilometers left Ballerini and Rojas split from the remainder of the group, with the fatigue clearly building up, and eventually Rojas faded leaving Ballerini alone as he surged through the flats. Although very strong Ballerini was obviously no match for a furiously approaching peloton, and with just 3 kilometers to go he was caught.
Although a fast one, it was a somewhat calm day in the peloton, and with Emirates, Deceuninck and Bora chasing, it wasn't easy but they made the catch in the final kilometers. After, Bora led-out the final kilometers, with Deceuninck making the leadout perfectly with the Morkov/Stybar/Richeze combination.
The final sprint was very deorganized, a slight uphill finish, there was a lot of fight for the wheel of Alaphillipe who had gotten the wheel of Richeze. van Avermaet got his wheel whilst Viviani went back into the wheel of Sagan (with Gaviria nowhere to be seen). What happened is that when Richeze really powered and leaving Alaphillipe van Avermaet lost the wheel of the Frenchman, Cimolai was on his wheel and quickly moved through but wasn't able to catch up. Viviani stayed with Sagan and overpowered him in the end but no difference would it makes as his teammate would take a massive win, with Richeze amazingly still finishing 6th.
With 62 and 60Kg, 1st and 4th placed Alaphillipe and Venturini showed it was one for a lighter sprinter in the end, Alaphillipe's power was impressive and the team's strategy was flawless, giving Deceuninck a well deserved 18th win of the season.
The final day of the race, with the queen stages on the weekend tomorrow the consagration will happen. Or will it? This stage usually doesn't create massive gaps, nor does it change the lead in the final day, but then again the gaps won't be as big this year so there may be some big changes.
Let us remember the 2016 edition where due to the snow the queen stage wasn't raced, and Greg van Avermaet lost 7 second but held his final lead over Peter Sagan for a single second. Something similar could happen so it may also end up a vital day for the overall.
The route is only 10Km long, and it's also a very straightforward parcours, just like the one the riders initiated the race on, so it will suit the powerful men, the pure time-trialists.
Who can we expect to see?
Tomorrow is the day where we will have maybe the biggest time-trial competition all year long. Almost every single top rider in the discipline made the way over to Italy this week and tomorrow is their true opportunity to show off their qualities.
Firstly will be mentioned Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic, the two overall contenders with serious chances of winning. The fatigue may be superior than other riders who have focused specifically on tomorrow, but their motivation (specially Roglic's) may bring some extra watts. The route fits a pwoerhouse rider so perhaps Roglic won't be that much of a favourite as the Dutch. He must gain 25 seconds on Yates to win overall, no easy task for such a small route but we've seen harder things happen, Yates had a very strong TTT so we are left to believe that until some point his time-trialing must've gotten better, seeing his brother's recent success in the discipline aswell.
Today, both Rohan Dennis and Victor Campanaerts finshed on the last group on the road, over 8 minutes back. That is more than an obvious sign that they want tomorrow's stage. Both are specialists in the distance and the chances look very equal for them, but there are plenty of other riders in the list.
Stefan Kung is the dark horse. He has won 4 individual time-trials in the past year and is a specialist in short distances. His team change could've cast doubt but his only individual run of the season resulted in a win in the Algarve.
Maciej Bodnar, Jos van Emden, Soren Kragh Andersen, Fillipo Ganna and Tom Bohli are all prologue specialists aswell, not as pronounced names but every single one wouldn't come as a surprise to see grab the win, all very heavy and powerful riders.
Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn helped a major win on the opening day, two contenders, aswell as Mads Pedersen. These riders are a long shot but all have an history on this very same stage.
Jonathan Castroviejo, Nelson Oliveira and Tony Martin are also riders with plenty of history and great results, and finally we mention Tim Wellens as an outsider. Also in the GC run, he was won a time-trial already this season and is in great for so he's one to consider.
⭐ Durbridge, Castroviejo, Oliveira, T.Martin, Pedersen, Bodnar, SK.Andersen
I call on Campanaerts for the win tomorrow. Dennis has won here the past two years, but the only ITT he's raced this season was in the Australian National's and his defeat on Durbridge lifted doubts over his aerodynamical efficiency. If that issue wasn't resolved he is no longer ahead of everyone, and Campanaerts is as much of a specialist as the World Champion, so it's a very fine line they'll play on.
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