It’s the 48th edition of the race and we have a very familiar looking route, but the organisers did decide to increase the length of the TT. Two sprints, two punchy stages and a TT, it’s a nice mix for a five-day race.
The race begins with a sprint stage in Lagos, Fabio Jakobsen won here in 2020. The weather forecast does say the wind will be up, so we could be in for an exciting opening to the race.
The usual finish in Fóia, where the final climb always seems to be a headwind! 7.6km at 6% doesn’t sound that hard, but the damage is usually done on the penultimate climb. This is a big day in the GC battle.
New finish alert! This should be another sprint, but one that ends uphill. 400m at 4.4% won’t scare the sprinters, they’ll looking forward to an uphill test.
32.2km is a very long TT in a five-day stage race, it will have a huge impact on the overall battle. With only 324m of climbing, this is one for the specialists.
The race ends with the usual finish at the top of Malhão, a climb I always love to watch. Two ascents give the attackers a chance, but it usually ends with the peloton winning the game of cat and mouse.
Remco Evenepoel – putting a long TT in the race will have helped convince Remco to come back to the race he won in 2020. There is every chance of him destroying his GC rivals and leaving the final stage a little boring for us watching fans. Things didn’t go in his way in the Queen stage in Valenciana, but the climbs in this race are much more his style. QuickStep are here to support both Remco and Jakobsen, so he could be a little isolated in the climbing stages, a lot will depend on how Kasper Asgreen is going.
Ineos – they arrive with a squad full of big hitters, I’m looking forward to seeing how they take the race to QuickStep. They have Pidcock, Hayter, Martínez and Thomas as GC options, that’s an embarrassment of riches even for them. We’ve not seen Pidcock properly race a TT yet as a pro, but he was fairly decent as an under 23. We’ve already seen he’s in amazing form this year, I can’t wait to see him go toe-to-toe with Remco. Hayter caught COVID just a couple of weeks before Provence, which explains his relatively poor performance, apart from the TT. He would have won this race in 2021, had it not been for his crash in the TT, he’ll start with some fire in his belly. Thomas normally starts the year a little slower than the rest, but Martínez is already in form, winning the Colombian TT title. Ineos look strong, but they’ll need to use their numbers to put QuickStep under pressure.
Brandon McNulty – the American is in brilliant form; he’s started the season red hot. The route is very good for him, he’s climbing incredibly well and he’s no mug on his TT bike either. UAE arrive with little climbing support, that could be a problem for him, he’ll hope to fly under the radar a little and let QuickStep and Ineos control the race. Given his form, he should be challenging for the win.
Samuele Battistella – a solid top 10 option considering his form in Provence.
Sergio Higuita – the monster just won the Colombian Road Race title; his form is clearly good just now. The TT kills his hopes of the podium, but he should be challenging for two stage wins.
David Gaudu – shit TT, no chance of winning GC. Brilliant climber should challenge in the hilly days.
Tobias Foss – after a good Giro in 2021, his form fell off a cliff. With a solid winter behind him he should be back to near his best, he’s a decent shout for a top 5 in this race.
Remco takes on the empire! Remco “Luke Skywalker” Evenepoel to take the win for the resistance.