Saturday, 22 September 2012

World Championships 2012: Mens Road Race - The Contenders


I have again be noticeable by my absence but unfortunately I have ongoing 'laptop issues' and I may have taken a sneaky two night break in the Peak District this week where there is certainly no shortage of Cauberg-esq climbs. I'm here as and when I can be and luckily I've managed to get online pre-road race. So here is my list of Contenders for tomorrows big race...


Philippe Gilbert - Probably the race favourite, Gilbert is on home turf here and the Cauberg is a climb that certainly suits his punchy attacking style. It hasn't all been plain sailing though as following Pip's astonishing 2011, 2012 has been a little more, well, rubbish. Struggling with teeth infections, illness and poor form it's only towards the middle of the Vuelta a Espana and beyond that Gilbert has found any sort of winning form this year. If all of his problems have now been overcome however, then race favourite he will be - and a deserving winner of the rainbow stripes he would be following his exceptional year last year. If there's one niggling issue that remains about Phil Gilbert it's his Belgian team-mates - Tom Boonen who is in the form of his life, and Greg Van Avermaet could well be a favourites in their own right...

Peter Sagan - This man needs no introduction. 2012 has already been a stand-out year for the 22 year old who is being compared by his friends and enemies in the peloton as a good liking for Eddie Merckx, which tells us in basic form what a talent he is set to become. Like Gilbert this route suits his punchy climbing style and we have seen his strong finish on display many times over the last 9 months. If there's a couple of doubts surrounding Sagan at the minute it may be his form - can he hold good form all year? He didn't look so hot finishing 26th in the GP de Québec. The other is his distinct lack of team - as he was in the Olympic Road Race Sagan will find himself pretty much a loan figure representing his nation this weekend, though to his credit Sagan has proven before that he doesn't always need team support to outclass everybody else...

Tom Boonen - OK, so he's a sprinter who may have lost his top-end sprint and the course may have more than enough climbing to kill him off. BUT. Boonen is in the form of his life, a true strongman he rode to victory with ease in Paris-Roubaix and Flanders this year - can a few climbs up the Cauberg really stop this man? Maybe, but if it all groups up again for the finish and it comes down to a sprint, my money says Boonen will be in rainbow stripes next year...

Edwald Boasson Hagen - Ok, so winning hasn't been massively high on his agenda recently but that's because Sky's focus this year has been about Grand Tour victory and not a lot else. EBH is in incredible form and he's certainly a rider for the classics, which this Worlds route simulates quite well. He has a strong up-hill finish and if he can get over the climbs in the front group he also has a strong sprint. It's easy to discount EBH but looking back at how he rode on all of the climbs at the front for Sky during the tour shows the strength, power and resilience of the youngster.

The Spaniards - I have grouped Valverde and Rodriguez together for the simple fact that they are similar in style, nature and form. Having witnessed their capabilities in this years Vuelta it would be a mistake to rule either of them out. Rodriguez could be looking for some recompence having had the Vuelta snatched away from him by Contador though I think he's rather the race finished on the Cauberg rather than beyond where he could use his uphill ability to his strength. Velverde looked to be in the form of his life in the Vuelta, climbing with the best of them. But where as Rodriguez struggles with the pace on the flat, get Valverde in a breakaway of a chasing group and he is far stronger - look at the way he almost dragged Contador back on the final 10km's of stage 17 in the Vuelta, no mean feet I tell you...

Thomas Voeckler - France are playing one card this year, and that card is Voeckler. He's been playing down his chances but it's clear he has been working hard in preparation for this and he has full support of the French team. King of the breakaway (see this years Tour de France) he has the power and the tactical nouse to make it stick. More than just a fantastic climber and rider to watch on the telly box, he has a brain that works overtime and when it comes to making quick decision, thinking quickly and putting in a winning move then Voeckler is one of the best. I'd quite like to see Tommy do well, secretly, just to get one over on his hoarding masses of haters. I think it's a pretty good possibility too.

The Outsiders - In reality there are plenty of riders who could take their chances and win on the day. This is bicycle racing, anything is possible. However there are some who have more possibilities than most others but who are not in the frame for being a proper race favourite. A victory here could come in the form of Van Avermaet quite easily, though his Belgian team-mates may have something to say about this. Another rider who looks good is Moreno Moser - up and coming Italian talent looking to follow in his fathers footsteps and already with some credible victories, his attacking style could bring victory here. Britain's best hope? Well, many will be looking out for Froome perhaps, though I'm more interested in what Jon Tiernan-Locke will be doing....

1 comment:

  1. Nice to have you back. And nice write up of the contenders. Shoukd be an interesting race...

    ReplyDelete