A tough opening stage in a tough place. If you want a preview of the GC contenders, see yesterday’s post. Here’s the first of the daily stage previews.
This year’s “race to the sun” promises to be illuminating with the duel between Primož Roglič and Remco Evenepoel as the headline contest, entertaining in itself, informative about future contests like the Tour de France. Don’t call this a mini-Tour, there’s no solo time trial and there are no long summit finishes, do call it a rehearsal for July for several contenders and their teams.
Did you enjoy the weekend’s racing? TV coverage is a difficult issue this year for many with the absence of GCN+ making it more complicated and more expensive to watch some races. Even within Europe there are complications as Eurosport isn’t a like-for-like replacement, in the US it’s more complicated and other places, say, Japan just don’t have a legal means to watch for now. But Belgians, used to free to air coverage, weren’t happy last weekend either.
Jan Tratnik floats away on the descent off the Bosberg with only Nils Politt giving chase as both Matej Mohorič and Stefan Küng dip their heads, too tired to chase. Visma-Lease a Bike won, just not in the manner we expected.
Time for some Belgo-sadism. You’ve seen the early season races in sunshine, admired the coastlines and the climbs, the bright sunlight, the early blossom. Now the sport goes north to take on roads and tracks best viewed seen from the comfort of the sofa, especially given the weather forecast.
This Saturday looks like Visma-Lease A Bike versus the field with Wout van Aert and his team mates taking on a peloton without, for now, Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogačar or Remco Evenepoel and so opportunities abound for others.
We’re in Year 2 of the three year World Tour promotion and relegation cycle. Here’s a look at the current standings and the challenges for some teams.
Should the pro cycling calendar be changed? Sure, and events can move dates like the Vuelta a España going from April to August. New races can appear, think of the Tour Colombia or the upcoming Strade Bianche. Should the pro cycling calendar be reformed? Oh yes, after all who is against reform?
Pro cycling has a complicated calendar with more days of racing in a year than actual days. It’s complex in other ways, with confusing blocks of racing at times, the branding of different tiers of event and more. A lot of this is ripe for reform and it’s coming. But easier said than done and be careful what you wish for.
The Tour of Oman has concluded with Adam Yates winning thanks to his stage win on the Jebel Al Akhdar. He and Jan Hirt surged clear on the climb. Yates looked like a coiled spring in the final kilometre just waiting to make his move and then jumped in the final 200m to take the stage and GC.
When the wildcard invitations for the Tour de France were announced the only surprise was the timing, who predicted 11.04am on 18 January? We knew already Lotto-Dstny and Israel-Premiertech qualified automatically. The elective picks went to Uno-X and TotalEnergies, same as last year. No surprise but for these two teams, especially the latter, invitations could be hard to come by next time.