Laigueglia > Laigueglia 201.0km
The period of cold and windy conditions in most of Europe continues, this is going to be a “different” edition of Trofeo Laigueglia.
Freezing cold, maybe some snow and very strong wind. Lots of riders will take one look out of the window and hope the race gets shortened!
The main event of the lap is the Colla Micheri climb which is 2km at 7.8%. Given the weather conditions, the descent will be just as important, it’s normally a fast one. Saying that, there’s a tricky descent before the bunch hit the lap circuit, hopefully everyone stays safe.
It will be interesting to see if the race goes ahead as planned, I’m hoping it does, it’s just a bit of snow! Last year, the race was dominated by UAE, they even managed a clean sweep of the podium, can they do something similar this year?
In terms of team strength, Intermarché look like one of the best to me. They line up with several options, which is important considering the route and weather, but they won’t have it all their own way. UAE also have strength in depth, as do Trek-Segafredo and EF. These teams will likely decide the type of race we get, but the weather will ensure a very selective day. Some riders cope well in these conditions, others don’t. Everything is pointing to a win for a bad weather specialist who can climb.
UAE – Covi and Ulissi should be their best options for this race. Both arrive in form, Ulissi took a win in Oman, whereas Covi was 2nd in the final stage in Andalucía. The rest of the team should offer strong support, races in this part of the world are important for the squad.
Trek-Segafredo – they’ve got the winners from 2020 and 2021 in Ciccone and Mollema. The Italian just has the one race under his belt this year, but it was a good one. He took a stage and finished 2nd in Valenciana, it was an excellent start to the year. He’s the best chance of success for the team, but Mollema is a strong back-up option.
Intermarché – too hard for Girmay, but a perfect race for Rota and Rui Costa. The former world champion is enjoying a renaissance in his new team, and he goes well in bad conditions. Rota has also enjoyed a fine start to the season, and he’d love to win on home soil. He hails from Bergamo, hopefully some of his family have made the drive down to cheer him on.
EF – Bettiol and Piccolo are their best options in this race. Bettiol started the season with a win in the Tour Down Under and provided me with my favourite moment of the year. Who doesn’t like to see someone launch a water bottle at a moto driver? The race suits his punchy nature, he should go well. Piccolo would normally be one of the favourites, but I see he was a DNF in the final stage in Haut Var, and I don’t know why.
Benoît Cosnefroy – exactly the type of race he should be winning. Despite achieving some impressive results last year, I feel that his career has stalled a little. Second in Amstel was good, but I think he can do more. No offence to those at AG2R, but I think he needs a move at the end of the year. Cosnefroy has been with the team his whole career, it is possible that he’s getting a little stale and I think a new challenge would be good for him. The climb in the lap circuit is one he’ll like, he excels on short, punchy efforts.
Thibaut Pinot – when some riders announce plans to retire at the beginning of the year, they mentally switch off and begin the winding down process, I don’t think this is going to happen with Thibaut. He’s already looked good in the opening races of the season, and he’ll come here with confidence. The problem could be wet descents, there’s no way he’s going to take unnecessary risks in this race.
Victor Lafay – another rider who I think should be looking at switching teams at the end of the year, honestly, I don’t have it in for French teams. Lafay is an enormous talent, he’s better on punchy climbs than most in the pro peloton. Recent form has been okay, this is a race he should be challenging to win.
Maxim Van Gils – the Belgian has started the season in fine form. Not only does he cope well with steep gradients, but he also has a very fast sprint, which is perfect for many one-day races. I’ll assume that as he’s Belgian, he won’t mind the cold conditions. He should be one of the favourites.
Carlos Rodríguez – despite all his talent, he’ll find it hard to win a race that finishes on the flat. He would really need a longer climb to put the puncheurs under pressure.
Looking at his form, I’ll take a win for Lorenzo Rota.
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