This weekend, three of Augustâ€™s most important stage races wrap-up in Poland, Denmark, and Spain. Hereâ€™s a quick run-down whatâ€™s going on:
1. Last week, I predicted that Peter Sagan would win two stages and the overall at the Tour of Poland. Until today, the Slovakian Champion looked poised to fulfill that prediction, with two stage victories and the leaders jersey. On a stage that resembled an EKG due to the 15 climbs encountered on the 207.7 km stage, Sagan found himself bettered by last year’s winner Dan Martin of Garmin-CervÃ©lo, finishing 13 seconds behind and ceding the yellow jersey. With time bonuses available for the first three finishers in tomorrow’s stage, Garmin-CervÃ©lo will be looking to control the race, as either Sagan or Vacansoleil’s Marco Marcato could take the race with a top-3 finish. Given Sagan’s record, I wouldn’t bet against him podium’ing the stage and taking the overall win.
2. Meanwhile, the Tour of Denmark concludes Sunday with after three stages in two days. Todayâ€™s finish in Vejle was the â€œqueenâ€ stage of the event, with three finishing circuits that included a steep, Flanders-like climb with pitches of 21%. Jakob Fuglsang took the win for Leopard-Trek but was unable to take the overall lead. Instead, Team Skyâ€™s Simon Gerrans (remember him?) is the race leader heading into tomorrowâ€™s 2-stage program. The morningâ€™s 111-kilometer Stage 5 is unlikely to change the GC as the sprintersâ€™ teams will look to rule the day.
Instead, look for the real shake-ups to occur during the afternoonâ€™s 13.8-kilometer time trial in Helsingor, the setting of Shakespeareâ€™s Hamlet. This crucial test should be enough to determine if Fuglsangâ€™s fourth Tour of Denmark victory is to be or not to be. (Sorry, I couldnâ€™t resist.)
3. Last but not least, the Tour of Burgos wraps-up in Spain. Burgos has thus far offered a mini-preview of many of the riders we can expect to see in top fitness at the Vuelta later this month, led by Katushaâ€™s Jose Joaquin Rodriguezâ€”the Stage 2 winner and current race leader. While Saturdayâ€™s course shouldnâ€™t cause too many shake-ups, Sundayâ€™s features five categorized climbs including the final ascent to the finish at Lagunas de Neila. Defending champion Samuel Sanchez sits 21 seconds behind Rodriguez after his Euskaltel team failed to hold its own in todayâ€™s 11.6-kilometer TTT. My guess is thatâ€™s enough of a cushion for Rodriguez to take the win. Other riders to watch include Denis Menchov (remember him?) and Igor Anton at :36 and :39 respectively.
Thatâ€™s it for usâ€”what will you be watching this weekend?
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