Hamburg > Hamburg 205km
This race was always one for the sprinters who could climb a little bit, that was until last year. Wout Van Aert turned up, romped up the Waseberg, and ripped up the history books. This year, he’s not here, but I wonder if others will look at what happened last year and try something similar. The sprinters will be a little worried, there’s no guarantee they get to fight for the win.
A lovely day for a bike race. Lots of sun and the temperature will be 25 degrees.
The Waseberg is climbed on three occasions. Last time up, there’s 16km to go. It’s not a long climb, but the relatively long section of steep gradient presents an opportunity to those who want to attack.
The race all comes down to the Waseberg section, but not just the climb. The section between the second and third ascents is crucial in terms of positioning for the final time up the climb. The road is very fast and technical, it helps to have a sprint train to help during this time.
Last time up the Waseberg, a group will escape off the front, it happens every year, but will they stay away? With 16km to go, it needs perfect cooperation between the attackers, and this rarely happens. All it takes is for a rider from a sprint team to make the move and refuse to work, then it’s game over. The issue is the gap between the two groups after the climb, it’s rarely more than 25 seconds, making it hard to stay away. With so many teams here with a sprinter, I think the race will return to its old pattern of the attackers getting caught before the line.
Olav Kooij – he’s such an impressive rider, I’m a big fan. Nearly all his wins have come in stage races, expect from Sparkassen Münsterland Giro back in 2022, this would be a big win for him. His support here is decent, but not spectacular, I expect he might only have one or two riders to help with positioning. The good news is that Kooij is good at looking after himself. He also climbs very well, but I don’t think he’ll look to follow the moves on the Waseberg, he’ll stay in the peloton and trust his teammates to chase it down.
Mads Pedersen – today he was incredible in the Tour of Denmark ITT, averaging 465 watts for almost 18 minutes! It’s safe to say he’s still got good legs. With that sort of power, he’ll smash up the Waseberg and see who can follow. The problem could then be cooperation, hopefully he’s not the only fast finisher in the group, otherwise others will look to him to do the work. He starts as one of the men to beat.
Tim Merlier – he’s not too bad at getting over short hills, it helps to be a cross racer. The Tour of Poland was a big success, two stage wins was the perfect way to start the second half of the season. He’ll hope that Lampaert, Sénéchal, Van Lerberghe and Van Tricht are there after the climbs, that would be ideal in terms of chasing and positioning for the final kilometres.
Arnaud De Lie – I’m fascinated to see how he tackles the race. De Lie is in brilliant form, he’s fresh from winning La Polynormande and Tour of Leuven, but he still needs to prove himself at the highest level. He’s got 16 wins in his young career, all but 3 of them have come in point 1 races, but there’s nothing wrong with that. His team have managed his first couple of seasons very well, they’ll now hope he’s ready to take that next step. De Lie climbs very well, I have a sneaky suspicion that he’ll look to attack on the climbs and not wait for a big sprint.
Dylan Groenewegen – can he survive the climbs? I would say it’s touch and go.
Jonathan Milan – despite his size, he climbs well. He’s recently been riding the track, sometimes it takes a while to find your road legs again.
Ethan Hayter – the enigma that is Ethan Hayter. This is his first race since crashing out of the Dauphiné, but he’s just completed a good training block so he should be fine. He doesn’t have the speed to beat those already mentioned, he needs to be in a smaller group that goes to the line. Hayter is normally very good on punchy hills, I hope to see him attack on the climbs and take a risk.
Alberto Bettiol – was magnificent in Glasgow, what a performance he put in. If he has similar legs, he’ll be one of the riders attacking off the front of the peloton on the Waseberg. If it ends in a reduced sprint, he’s quite fast too.
Tim Wellens – he’s riding into some serious form. He’s one who’ll look to attack on the climb and hope the front group has the right mix to stay away until the end.
Nils Politt – he’d love to win in Germany, but it’s going to be very difficult as he needs to arrive solo.
If you really want to hurt the sprinters, you need to hit the second ascent of the Waseberg hard, before going tonto last time up. I see Pedersen, De Lie, Wellens, Bettiol and a few others wanting to force a group away, but we’ll have to see if it stays away, all it takes is one or two pesky anchors to thwart it.
The attackers will be helped by a tailwind, all the way from the Waseberg to the line, so I’ll side with them. A first world tour win for Arnaud De Lie, he’ll win a small sprint.