Gronków > Ski Station Rusiński 11.8km ITT
After today’s sprint stage, we head for the time trial. It’s a bit of a strange one, I don’t think I’ve seen a TT that looks like this one. It starts with 3km of flat, before 5km at 2.7%, then 2.15km at 6.2%, before 1km of downhill and then 600m of flat to finish it off. Overall, it’s 331m of climbing over 11.8km, which should give the climbers a chance against the TT specialists.
The other weird thing about this time trial is a lack of proper corners, there are only two times in the whole 11.8km where riders will need to use their brakes, and both come in the final 2km. This will allow riders to get their head down and hold an aero position throughout the whole effort. If you have good communication with the DS in the car, there is little need to lift your head at all.
The GC position is delicately balanced with Higuita holding a four second advantage to Bilbao, Hermans is at 6s and then a group of eight riders sitting at 10s. All eyes will be on Hayter and Sobrero, both of whom sit 10s down, they are the big favourites for the stage and GC.
Sunny and temperatures will be around 25 degrees. The wind is light and will be a gentle tailwind for all. If anything, the later starters will have a tiny advantage with a slightly stronger wind.
Ethan Hayter – he’s been very strong on his TT bike this year, but he has spoken about this route not suiting him well. I found this a little surprising as he does climb well, but it seems like he prefers a flat TT route, which this certainly is not. As the opening 8km only averages 2.4%, this is where he needs to make the difference, allowing himself a buffer before the harder gradients begin. He’ll start as the favourite, but the way he’s spoken about this stage does put some doubt in my head.
Matteo Sobrero – the opposite is true for the Italian; he’ll welcome the hills in this stage. We all watched him take a brilliant win in the Giro, blasting up the hill and putting everyone to the sword. This is a huge chance for him to not only take his first win outside of Italy, but also his first ever GC success. BikeExchange have gone very well in TTs this year, it shows they are working hard under the expert guidance of Marco Pinotti. I get the feeling it could be a nailbiter of a finish.
Rémi Cavagna – he’s climbing well, but 331m over 11.8km is going to be tough for him. Saying that, his TT win back in the 2021 edition of Romandie had 287m of climbing over 16.2km, so I’m not going to discount him from challenging for the podium.
Thymen Arensman – he’s another with some impressive results on his TT bike this year. He was 6th in Tirreno on a pan flat course and 2nd behind Sobrero in the final stage of the Giro. As he’s a proper climber, this is a route where he should be able to threaten the TT specialist and make a proper challenge for the win.
Antonio Tiberi – he’s one of those who I’m waiting to land a big TT result. He’s still just 21, but as a former junior world champion in this discipline, I’m expecting big things of him.
Lawson Craddock – another one of the BikeExchange riders who’ll look to threaten the leader board. The American is usually very consistent in this discipline, I expect him to be hanging around the top 10.
Ben Tulett – this year we’ve seen a couple of very impressive TT performances by him, he was 5th in both Giro TTs. He lost 5 seconds on the hilltop finish, which was a little disappointing, but he’s still got a big chance of challenging for the stage and GC win.
Pello Bilbao – starts with an advantage over most riders, and he’s capable of pulling a good TT out of the bag. The uphill route is good for him, but he’ll still be a little worried about Hayter and Sobrero.
Sergio Higuita – despite his small stature, he’s pretty good on his TT bike. Just like Bilbao, the route will allow him to challenge for a good spot in the top 10, but I doubt he can hold on to yellow.
Despite what he’s being saying, I’ll take a win for Ethan Hayter, and he’ll also move into yellow.