Eschborn > Frankfurt 203km
The organisers have tried to make the race a little harder this year, increasing the climbing metres from 2731 to 3079. It used to be once up the big climb, then twice up the final climb, this year it’s twice up the big climb (the second time from a more challenging side) and once up the final climb, but will it make a difference to the outcome of the race? Most teams have arrived with the usual team they would take to a sprint race, but can anyone shake it up a bit?
Cloudy and will feel relatively warm for this time of year.
This is the opening climb of the race, it starts after 33km of racing.
This is the “new” climb this year. 12km at 5.4% is tough, normally it would be over the limit for most sprinters, but it crests a long way from home.
The final climb of the day gives the puncheurs one last chance to disappoint the sprinters, but with 35km to go, the bunch still hold the advantage.
What type of race do the teams want? The organisers have made this more difficult, but as the hardest climb crests with 86km to go, we could see an “entente cordiale” amongst all the big teams? Bora, UAE, Uno-X, Bahrain, Alpecin, DSM, Lotto would all be happy with this, it’s their best way of winning the race, in fact, I don’t see too many who want something different. The sprint teams need to ensure a weak break gets up the road, then give them a big advantage to deter anyone wanting to jump across on the middle climb, before gradually bringing the advantage down in the final 80km of the race.
If Jayco want to win this race, they’ll need to drop a lot of the sprinters, Matthews needs a significantly reduced sprint. The danger with riding a hard race, is it opens the door for a late attack to succeed. If someone decides to push it on the big climb and drive a group of 50 or so riders away, it will be very hard to control in the finale. Saying that, it’s still the best way for Jayco to win the race.
This is what needs to be considered by each team, which approach gives them the biggest chance of taking the win. I think Intermarché, EF and Jayco will be the ones looking to make it hard for the sprinters, but given how many fast men are here, I think we’re still looking at some type of sprint finish. Time will tell, it’s up to the teams to make the race.
Jasper Philipsen – climbs very well for a sprinter, much better than most. His first part of the season was very successful, without doubt, he can now be thought of as one of the fastest sprinters in the world. This is his first race after a little break, we’ll have to see how his legs respond. Alpecin have a decent team to support him, but they do lack some climbing power, it’s clear they want a sprint.
Sam Bennett – doesn’t climb as well as Philipsen, he’ll need a relatively easy pace on the middle climb to ensure he’s in the mix to defend his title. The first part of his season was a big disappointment, he’ll be hoping for much better over the next couple of months.
Arnaud De Lie – he can climb, there’s no doubt about that. He’s a little unknown on longer climbs, so it depends on what the teams decide to do throughout the day. If it ends in a medium sized sprint, he’ll be fighting for the win.
Michael Matthews – his chances of success depend on the size of the bunch at the finish. Jayco will need to drop Philipsen if Matthews is going to win the race, that means they need to hit the middle climb hard, drop the sprinters, then continue to drive all the way to the line. Do they have a team capable of doing that?
EF – I like the look of their team, they arrive with a couple of good climbers, who are also in fine form. Cepeda and Steinhauser will be their attackers, leaving Van den Berg as the sprint option. They will be one of the animators of the race.
Intermarché – another team who are here to make life difficult for the sprinters. They have Bystrøm, Zimmermann and Rota as their chosen leaders, all three have a decent chance if the race breaks up. Without a proper sprint option, they only have one option, attack. All three riders have shown decent form this year, I like the look of their chances.
Edoardo Zambanini – he’s one of the best climbers in the race, if a move goes on the middle climb, he’ll be in it. His sprint isn’t too bad, but winning this race won’t be easy for him.
Felix Engelhardt – should be used as an attacking option by Jayco. The young German has enjoyed a fine start to his professional career, he can climb well and packs a fast sprint. He’ll hope to get some freedom, German riders don’t have many races on home soil.
Jason Osborne – rode very well in the break in Liège, he’ll be riding close to home and looking to impress.
Marc Hirschi – 10th in Liège shows that his current form is good, but after doing Basque Country and all four races in the Ardennes, he’ll be looking forward to the end of this block of racing. Can he squeeze out one last big ride?
Patrick Konrad – gives Bora a potential if things are hard. He’s been riding well this year; his form is coming along nicely with the Giro just under one week away. Crucially, he has a good sprint for a climber, which is important considering the flat finish.
It’s very hard to predict how this race will unfold.
I think the sprint teams will come to an agreement and take the big climb at a steady pace. There will be a few attackers, but I think it will come back together for a sprint and Jasper Philipsen will take the win.