Written by Frank Holwerda of Holwerda Cycling
When you take a look at the starting list of this seasons edition of Cymru Taith you just can’t wait for the opening stage to start in Welshpool. We have got some serious GC contenders from the Time Trial point of view, but there will also be competition from the hiller specialists. But yes, every season the question is whether the hillers can defend their lead from the opening hill stage in the following TT stage. History tells us that it is mostly not the case. The last winner with a poor TT skill was Farruco Alonso ten seasons ago. But ten is a nice round number, so why can we not search for a successor for Farruco (just for this tour that is).
In this preview we will first look at the hill specialists who will try win the stage or maximize their lead on the time trialers.
At first we have Alexander Hetland who reached podium and won the YC in season 39. Hunting for the World number one spot, winning this
tour would come in very handy and he has some strong support for the hill stage. But it will be hard having no Top Form and not much TT skills compared to other riders in this field. Second is Labuto from a very strong team. Third: Pegasus brings Alain De Keijsere who is very strong in the hills. De Keijsere has the same problem as Hetland and Labuto. No Top Form and not much TT skill.
Now we will look at the Time Trialists who will try to overtake the hillers in the ‘King’ stage, the Time Trial in Newport. We have over twenty riders with a TT skill in the 90’s. So it’s clear the hunt for the hillers will be opened. At first we have no one less than Johnny Struik. He is going for his third title while he is also the defending champion. He comes with Top Form and is the big favourite to win the tour. Jeremey Dooley might have a bigger gap to overcome, but he reached a third place before. Ric Expositi ended at second place last season after winning the TT. That might have been unexpected, but he seems
to be well prepared again. Finn Orre is also in and when we look at his palmares, he is a real GC contender and he is well suited for this tour. Boris Ommen is the oldest of the peloton in the tour and his birthday is exactly on the king TT stage. If I were his manager I would use his Top Form.
So much strong TT’ers, I will mention some dark horses as well: Lucas Jahnke, Dahab Renzaho, Halsey Linard, Filip Ukleja, Gherman Cristache and Hermano Montenegro.
Besides the jersey for best GC contender, we also have a jersey for best Youth rider. Last season Gherman Cristache won this jersey, but now he is too old so someone else can try to claim this jersey. The only rider mentioned above that qualifies for this category is Hermano Montenegro. Joachim Sanders who won the YC two seasons ago would have been the main challenger. He is on the participation list, but unfortunately he got injured. Montenegro will instead have to get rid of Jesse De Laat, Sam Washburne and Marc Pierre to win the YC.