Tour-du-haut-var 21st Feb to 23rd Feb 2.1

No Thread for this race and i was going to tweet about it,

With Oman off we have seen stronger fields flock to France for example, this race again is no exception. The race had few punchy winners but last year two climbers in Pinot & Bardet battled it out. The top 10 had a a bit of a different look.



Their are a few more WT teams in this years edition, with 9 in all. Porte is added to this field, while Quintana continues his French adventure. Calmejane & Masnada don't get a mention in the team highlights but are worth watching on this parcour and feature in the top 10 competitors.



Stage 1

Rolling day, their is plenty climbing at the end some of it not noted. Last kicker is 3km at below 6%, we will know whos competing for GC after this one.


Stage 2

This one is less rolling but they go higher and with longer climbs, later in race they climb a 6.5km climb steeper than day before, nearly 20km of downhill before hitting the final climb which is longer and more testing than day before, expect this finish to be contested by a further reduced field. The climb looks pretty steady so team tactics will come into it.



Stage 3

You should get the picture now why Pinot & Bardet fought this one out last year with Carthy 3rd. The 3rd day is very much back ended, 2 intermediate sprints will likely interest a few looking to nail a sprinters jersey. Don't expect much action if any before the final climb, not a giant by any means but the steepest finish of the week at 8.4% over 5.7km, at 3km it does hit a flat spot, so this climb really is the most testing, expect the final 3km to be raced hard.



Summary:

Great to see teams coming to these well organised southern France races, Quintana is going be very hard beat off his superb effort up half of Ventoux and a supportive team. If Pinot was indeed slightly off last week then this is the ideal chance for him to redeem, Bardet makes his European debut and its hard to tell how quickly he is going to get upto pace from his trip down under, he does have the super Cosnefroy here with him. Porte after a strong visit home will always be in the discussion here.

Masnada is interesting a world tour rider now with CCC in theory he should enjoy this type of racing. Watch for Chris Hamilton on debut after breaking his balls literally. While Ben O'Connor showed glimpses that he might return to something like he showed 2 years back before a big crash setb back. Molard supports FDJ here, but Sunweb's other option Oomen will surely get a chance of his own. Kangert gets the EF leadership and needs make the most of this one.

Lets Talking cyclings watch list:

Watch out for Hungarian rider Valter, with the Giro in Budapest this year he is certainly riding to prove his place in a grand tour team, although given lack of GC ambition, CCC might be happy to carry him but he did have a solid L'avenir last year with Hungary keen to start putting a cycling stamp down. . British fans, Mark Donovan makes his Sunweb debut so keep an eye out for him.
 
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Sorry my image links, seem to have cut out, will try again

TV update if anyone has details, but looks like maybe Eurosport France or highlights
 
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2420338, member: 112613"]
I'm not sure if Eze and Faron are long enough for Quintana show his dominance.

It looks more like the climbs Porte usually thrives on.
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Well Nairo climbed Col d'eze very well during Paris-Nice last year

Its a 2 horse race imo....and its a pity we cant see it
 
Still not a bad performance by Pinot. It's still February. He doesn't need to be in strongest form, yet. On the other hand, Nairo is looking fantastic, and I think this is very good for him to regain confidence and belief in what is (again) possible.
 

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