Written by Deano from Bilsky
It’s not long now until the first rider rolls down the start ramp at the prologue in Norway on day 35, and in the absence of two time winner Aron Shiningayamwe the GC looks wide open. We’ll preview each team competing in Norway and predict what will happen on the unforgiving roads to Oslo.
KRV Rapid Habsburg
Summary: KRV bring former Valparasio winner and current Liechtenstein national champion Mirko Diesmann as leader in top form with an eye on taking their first red jersey. His previous best here is 4th and with two injuries in the lead up it might be difficult to make the step onto the podium once again.
Prediction: 6th GC - Diesmann
Summary: Irving Watts arrives in Norway looking to repeat what he did in Fast on Wheels, win the SC. His experience will be key and a strong lead out train will have Canadian Nippon dreaming of stage wins. The team have other goals too and an early spell in the red jersey could be possible with TTer’s Fint and Guillot on the roster.
Prediction: 3rd SC – Watts
Summary: One of the oldest teams in the peloton, CCFC arrive in Norway as one of two teams racing on home roads this season. But with only one Norwegian, CCFC's hopes will fall on German climber Helmut Kuhlmey. However, a top GC result might be unlikely with a lack of TT and FR. Polish sprinter Napierala was sent to Norway to mix it in the sprints but an injury in the build-up means the team will switch focus to the climbs.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage results - Kuhlmey
Summary: One of the top climbing teams in the peloton bring in-form Belgian champion Ian Vangale to Norway, who recently finished second in the Andes. Hamza Chuka is also on the start list and is a good shout to compete for the YC should Vangale falter on the climbs.
Prediction: 8th GC - Vangale
Velo Club Bored Man
Summary: After selling Cees-Jan Groen last season, Velo Club’s tour hopes rest on Khlo Ammouayphone, and with top form he is one of the favourites for the GC. His season has been focused on arriving at Norway in good shape and a 5th place last season displayed Khlo’s quality in grand tours. With an extra season in the legs, I think he could reach the podium or take the red jersey if luck is on his side.
Prediction: 1st GC - Khlo
Summary: de stamper bring an interesting line up to Norway this season with Hubert Grossholtz as leader. A third place in Are Climbs in season 56 is the one result on his palmares so anything in Norway would be a great result. Expect the rest of the riders to hunt for breakaways, with Cascais and Sibiski looking for top 9 finishes when the fast men launch the sprint trains.
Prediction: 1 top 9 stage finish - Sibiski
Summary: The first YC contender on the list is Emanuel Zilka of BVB. He looks tailor made for Norway and will certainly challenge for the red jersey in seasons to come. But for now, the white jersey looks like a realistic possibility for the Slovakian who finished second in the RoM YC last season. Ianella will also arrive in top form and is a strong lieutenant for Zilka when the road goes downhill.
Prediction: 5th GC / 2nd YC - Zilka
Summary: 24 year-old Dolf Pass is the leader of Korstanje, who should do well in the hilly sprints along the Norwegian roads. A strong run at the SC could be possible if the team can drop the pure sprinters over the hilly terrain. Another interesting rider on the start list is 40 year-old sprinter Geoff Houston who won the Mito-Tokyo classic in season 51.
2nd SC - Pass
Summary: Former champion Berlanga is back in the hunt for the GC. An injury in the squad in the build-up may hinder team spirit, but the aim will continue to be a repeat of edition 30. Former Valparasio winner Haydon will be a key domestique on the climbs and should be able to step up as a leader if the injury bug bites again.
Prediction: 3rd GC - Berlanga
ALATITZ ATHLETIC TEAM
Summary: ALAITZ arrive with a strong team with Degn as leader. The aim will be to drop his rivals on the downhills and hold on up the climbs to finish top 3 in the YC. Former U23 World Champ Andres Centurion also looks like a good bet for a top 5 in the YC as the Spaniard begins his grand tour career. A special mention also goes to Sune Wadstrom, who is one of the most decorated riders in the race having finished in the top ten at Perm, Monte Rosa, RoM and Odyssey in his career.
Prediction: 3rd YC - Degn
Summary: The aim of Kremer is clear, win the SC with Pajak. A second place in Norway Tour SC in edition 55 is great experience for the Polish sprinter, whose final kick should be enough to be in the hunt to win Kremer’s first green jersey at Norway. His strong flat road skills might also be enough to wear the red jersey early on if super legs arrive for the prologue.
Prediction: 1st SC - Pajak
Summary: After finishing a recent training camp in the Swiss Alps, experienced climber Alessandro Zangerl will be hoping to secure a top 9 finish here in Norway. He is one of the strongest riders in the race and with climbing phenom Mark Luthi in support, Zangerl should be able to get his first tour top 9 at the age of 32. A podium finish may be out of reach for the Swissman without top form.
Prediction: 7th GC - Zangerl
Summary: After two podium finishes in div 3 to start the season, Mason Garret is an in form Aussie climber heading into Norway. Although Garret lacks the TT and FR ability to threaten the main GC contenders, a couple of stage results over the 9 stages would be a success for sivac. Atzli might be able to bring some results in the sprints too but doesn’t come to Norway in his best shape.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage finishes - Garret
Summary: Another rider perfectly suited to Norway is Rode Stier leader Wessel Hibrands, who will aim to finish inside the top 9 on GC and build on his 12th place finish in edition 30. If a top 9 isn’t possible, a stage result would be a success for Rode Stier, who have previously finished on the podium with Dutch climbing legend Tom Bekooy. It’s not only Hibrands who will have high hopes as Jan Averdijk has the opportunity to sprint for the win on the flat road.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage finishes - Hibrands
Summary: Last season’s 8th place finisher Jackson Esteban is the leader for Baix Bikers. He will be hoping to build on last season and challenge for a top 5 second time round. This is another team who have an interest in the sprints as well as the climbs, with hill sprinter Taitainfong in the line-up and hungry for a result in stage 3 if given the opportunity.
Prediction: 9th GC - Esteban
Summary: mutants madrid return to Norway after winning the YC in edition 20. Adriano Inbrioarloto will be aiming for a repeat YC victory and has a strong support team with a mixture of climbing specialists and all-rounders. The young TTer Clay Sonnberg could wear the YC jersey for a couple of stages after the prologue.
Prediction: 3 top 9 stage finishes – Inbrioarloto / Sonnberg
Summary: Kenn Beierholm was a surprise omission from Abs Stars line-up, but new signing Jerker Oswall is a quality captain and well suited to the mountainous Norwegian terrain. The Swede has a strong supporting cast, which includes Valparasio winner Carsten Kronborg who will be looking to roll back the years and help fellow Scandinavian Oswall win his first tour.
Prediction: 1 top 9 stage finish - Oswall
Schiavi di Don
Summary: The Don brings an all Greenland line up to Norway with Gustav the CL HL specialist as the main man. His talent is undeniable and Gustav will be looking for a couple of stage results, but a lack of FR and a strong field this season makes it difficult to imagine a top GC result for the Don this time.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage finishes - Gustav
Summary: Pure climber Joseph Glimbotzki is the leader of teddybears and will battle with Kuhlmey to be the best German on the climbs. Glibbotzki doesn’t have the strongest team in support but has shown good form already this season with 7th in the Andes, which should make him a threat on the king stage into Lillehammer.
Prediction: 1 top 9 stage finish - Glimbotzki
Summary: Looking at the Darkwave line-up its unclear who will lead the team this season, but they have brought some fast men and Halligan or Gabel could challenge for the SC looking at the competition. Anton Olstad will have the home support and has an outside chance at a top 3 in the YC if he can get into some breakaways on his home roads.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage finishes - Halligan
Summary: Two time winners Lokomotiva have brought last seasons podium finisher Samko to win the YC after missing out to Dechev in edition 35. He should be in top form and will be one of the favourites for the red jersey. Support rider Rado Holecko is one of two former GC winners in the field and could step up if anything happens to Samko in the early stages.
Prediction: 2nd GC - Samko
Summary: Radoslav Dechev had an unreal season 60 and will be hoping to repeat his success this season. He will be sporting the Bulgarian champion jersey and may have to switch to the red jersey en route to Oslo. However, without top form he might have to settle for a top 9 despite a strong support team.
Prediction: 4th GC - Dechev
Summary: The last team to sign up is Beardy Bikers, who have brought Andrieu and Nadin for the prologue. A strong SC performance could also be possible with Andrieu, who is one of the strongest pure sprinters in the peloton. But at 35 years-old, age is not on his side and he’ll be representing the old guard in this one.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage finishes - Andrieu
Summary: The home favourite Gard Børresen leads the Gooners and he’s already won a race into his home town Oslo this season. The previous YC winner at RoM will be hoping to lift his arms again and is a top ten contender for sure.
Prediction: 2 top 9 stage finishes - Borresen
Final GC prediction:
1st – Khlo
2nd – Samko
3rd – Berlanga
4th – Dechev
5th – Zilka
6th – Diesmann
7th – Zangerl
8th – Vangale
9th - Esteban
Final SC prediction:
1st – Pajak
2nd – Pass
3rd – Watts
Final YC prediction:
1st – Samko
2nd – Zilka
3rd - Degn