The Unbeaten is strong this season, which he recently underlined in La Vuelta. Valverde already was on the podium five times, but never on the top shelf. Ponferrada will probably be his last chance to take the rainbow jersey, since he is 34 year of age and upcoming World Championships (Richmond and Qatar) will have routes on offer that are not his cup of tea. Now or never, Alejandro!
The Swiss skips his once beloved individual time trial in favor of the road race – not only is this remarkable, it is significant. If Spartacus sets his mind to something, other riders should be aware. The route in Florence was a little too tough for him, especially in combination with the bad weather, but Ponferrada may well turn out to be the pinnacle in his already shining career.
Had a marvelous 2013 season by winning two stages in the Tour de France, the overall in Switzerland and the rainbow jersey for desert. The route is similar tot the one in Florence (albeit is less tough) and it fits him like a glove. In Italy he outsmarted two blundering Spaniards (Valverde and Rodríguez), it would be somewhat of a miracle if he could take the rainbow jersey for the second time in a row, a rare feat accomplished by George Ronsse (1928-1929), Rik Van Steenbergen (1956-1957), Rik Van Looy (1960-1961), Gianni Bugno (1991-1992) and Paolo Bettini (2006-2007)
The 2012 World Championships doesn’t seem to be his best self lately. Whilst winning Amstel Gold Race in April, his season was rather bleak and in La Vuelta he was mainly invisible. That said, his 2012 season wasn’t that brilliant either and yet he won the World Championships. His team-mate Samuel Sánchez – a man from the region – claims the Ponferrada route is tailor made for the Walloon.
The German was incredible in La Vuelta and powered to no less then four stage wins, whilst early on in the season het took a stage plus the points classification Paris-Nice. Gent-Wevelgem was another one of his preys and let’s not forget he finished second in Paris-Roubaix. So the 25-year old is a sprinter with something extra, which might come in handy on September 28.
Another sprinter being at his best self after a grueling race. The reigning king of Milan-San Remo was fastest in stage 12 and stage 15 in the Tour de France also. The Norwegian performs better than ever this season, last year he was 7 time victor ath the moment he doubled it – 14 victories.
The winner of Milan-San Remo 2012 is in brilliant form. He started the season with both stage and GC wins in ‘his own’ Tour Down Under and was the first Australian to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Tour de France was a bit of a disappointment after crashing due to a bold Mark Cavendish manoeuvre in stage 1, but with Ponferrada getting closer Gerrans is back to his winning days again. This month he was victor in both of the Canadian classics – Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal.