Once again, our ‘expert’ panel here at Rouleur Towers pit their wits and intimate knowledge of the racing scene against Cycling Mole, our harshest critic and king of the tipster scene, to see who will be crowned King of Yorkshire.
Hours of painstaking research will go into our World Championships picks, whilst stroking our luxuriant hipster beards over a mug of single origin coffee, listening to ambient techno. [Did Moley write this? – Ed]
Can any of us outfox the crafty Mole? Or will he rip us a new one, as per usual? Read on…
Men’s under-23 time-trial: Ripon – Harrogate, 32km
Ben: Johan Price-Pejtersen (Denmark)
From ProCyclingStats, it seems that Johan Price-Pejtersen has been sharing honours with compatriot and two-time reigning champion Mikkel Bjerg. But on the two biggest stages this year, the National Championships and the European Championships, Price-Pejtersen is the Dane that has come out on top, so I’m expecting him to do the same in Harrogate.
Miles: Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)
Though lead entirely by a love for the Swiss TT skinsuit, I’m hoping that Marc Hirschi can channel that trademark rock-solid TT form to take the win.
Nick: Johan Price-Pejtersen (Denmark)
Seems like the Danes have this one nailed on, and it’s not easy to pick from the plethora of talented testers they have at their disposal. As reining champion, Mikkel Bjerg is probably going in as the favourite, but Johan Price-Pejtersen did beat him at both the nationals and the Euros. I think he’s going to make it the hat-trick in Harrogate.
Ian: Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)
If the guys are going for Price-Pejtersen, I’ll back Bjerg to bring home the bacon. Tried and tested tester.
Andy: Brandon McNulty (USA)
What a name. Sounds like a Stetson-wearing, cigarette-butt flicking cop who doesn’t play by the rules. And he doesn’t: a glance at Strava reveals McNulty has been in Yorkshire for the last three and a half weeks. He has ridden the TT route a dozen times. The 2016 junior world champ is not messing around. Throw in that preparation and the fact that rain is forecast – I remember his solo stage-winning attack at the Tour of Sicily, cornering with speed and skill on wet roads to win. He’s got the nerve and technical know-how to win another rainbow jersey.
Cycling Mole’s verdict
After the mixed TTT, Nick has surged into an early lead. I went for Germany, and the trio of Tony Martin, Sutterlin and Politt looked like they should have had AG2R shorts on, as they gingerly went around every corner. A poor start, but I’m confident I can make it up on Nick, he’s clueless [Woah there, Moley! – Ed]. Time to head for the individual time-trials, on a wet Tuesday in Harrogate. With wet roads for most, any rider who gets a dry patch of weather will have an advantage.
I’m amazed that only Ian has gone with Mikkel Berg. The 20-year-old is looking to claim his third title, something that’s never been done. In fact, he’s the only rider to ever win two titles. The Dane is a phenomenal talent, but did finish second in the Danish under 21 TT race to Johan Price-Pejtersen. This has led to both Ben and Nick going for him, but I’ll keep it quiet that Bjerg recently beat him by 28 seconds in a recent TT race. That was over 22km, but I’m happy to report that the longer the race, the better it is for Bjerg.
Miles has picked Marc Hirschi, the youngster who’s enjoyed a brilliant first season in the professional peloton. The UCI changed the rules last year, meaning that professional riders are still eligible for the under 23 categories, that’s why Hirschi is allowed to compete. I presume Miles didn’t check that Bjerg beat him by 2:07 in this event in 2018. Hirschi has no chance of winning.
Andy is going with another professional rider, Brandon McNulty. The American was one of the stars of this discipline, but when he started to focus on becoming a GC rider, it seemed that his TT powers started to wane. I have noticed his long spell in Yorkshire, something that Andy is quite right to point out, but will knowing every inch of the course allow him to pull off a big shock?
Verdict – I’m still amazed that only Ian has the sense to pick Mikkel Bjerg. The rain is a worry, it increases the chances of an upset, but I simply have to back the Danish star to complete his hat-trick.