What’s the right amount of sprint stages?

After a cold winter, we all look forward to the first proper hot day. We might even get bored of waiting and jump on a plane to our favourite coast. And then – when we do get some real sun – we all know someone who will declare: ‘This too hot, far too hot’.

Do we even know what we want anymore? Do we like bunch sprints as much as we thought? We’ve all been waiting for a sprint showdown of the calibre provided by this year’s Tour; are we really already bored? Maybe you can have too much of a good thing.

Sagan

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Bergen 2017 Men’s Road Race: Slovakia

We’ve never seen a hat-trick of World Championship victories at either the men’s or women’s elite road race. Two-timer Gianni Bugno didn’t ride in 1993, whilst his compatriot Paulo Bettini was unable to complete a hat-trick in 2008 (the jersey did, at least, stay with Italy). On the women’s side of the sport we’ve seen Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos complete doubles in the last ten years. Bronzini was dropped when going for a third straight title whilst Vos jumped early before tiring in a reduced sprint in Ponferrada. This year Peter Sagan is lining up a famous treble and the bookies are saying he’s the most likely winner.

Sagan cool

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Quick Picks: Tour of Poland

The Tour of Poland is one of the oldest races on the calendar but has changed a fair amount over the years and attracted a crop of major stars since 2005. You might recall the 2011 race which saw Marcel Kittel rise to prominence and a 21-year old Peter Sagan confirm his star potential.

In recent years the organizers have endeavoured to include more climbing than ever – though perhaps not as much as their lively profiles suggest – and the inclusion of a time trial has further skewed the race towards genuine GC riders.

The time trial has been taken away for 2017 but a selection of sharp hilly finishes has attracted a number of leading riders. Here are my quick picks for the overall GC.

Tim Wellens Poland

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Who’s The Most Exciting Rider at This Year’s Tour?

Dull Tour de France route seeks exciting rider to help deliver spectacular three-week showcase.

With a surprisingly open GC race and nothing too taxing on the legs, riders should be up for the opportunity to attack, attack, attack.

This year just might be the year for a genuine underdog to try something special; Chris Froome’s looking human, Richie Porte’s cursed by seven year’s bad luck and Nairo Quintana’s looking… exactly like he always does. But even aside from the GC battle, we’ve got Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert, Diego Ulissi and Steve Cummings.

Cummings
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Wonderful Ronde: Gilbert’s Perfect Victory

Well, I got it wrong. There was nothing in Philippe Gilbert’s post-2015 BMC form to suggest he would take to any race – regardless of the surface beneath his wheels – with the command he showed on Sunday afternoon.

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Five reasons Strade Bianche is a wonderful race

Strade Bianche is back and this time it’s on the World Tour. Here are five reasons why it deserves to be acknowledged as one of the best races on the calendar.

1. The white gravel roads, obviously.

When the Colle Delle Finestre popped up in the 2005 Giro d’Italia we were given a taste of what Italy could deliver in terms of ‘off-road’ racing. Inaugurated two years later, Strade Bianche provides fans with a race defined by dusty, white, gravel roads. Somebody realised how great a spectacle a white roads race would be and Strade Bianche was born off the back of the ‘Eroica Strade Bianche’ – an Italian granfondo at the time. Not only does the white gravel look magnificent but it provides a completely unique and almost hybrid brand of racing. Zdenek Stybar – a former cyclocross World Champion – has podiumed in the last two editions.

strade-bianche-2016

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