05 May 2013
FROOME: Already winning in February in the Tour of Oman, he confirmed himself as the strongest climber, especially when the race follows the law of team Sky: fast pace and constant.
Also winning the Criterium International and the Tour de Romandie, he had to give in to Nibali in the Tirreno Adriatico, during a stage made particularly hard by the cold and the rain.
NIBALI: shows progress in his climbing (VAM = 1700m/h on the climb of Sega di Ala) and confirms as a solid rider, complete and suitable for all racing tactics.
His successes at Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro del Trentino make him, in my opinion, the favorite for the upcoming Giro d' Italia.
WIGGINS: often a bit "nervous", the Baronet has given way to his companions Froome and Porte in leading Team Sky, with an easy and quiet first part of the season in terms of competitive profile, focusing on "special" training for the Giro.
At the Giro del Trentino, mechanical issues aside, he has shown some limitations on his climbing still: in Sega di Ala he failed to close a gap of 25" over the group of the best riders pulled only by Tiralongo, and when Nibali accelerated, Wiggo lost an additional minute in about 4 km.
PORTE: a compact and solid rider, he showed great progress, both uphill and in time trials, albeit with some fluctuations in performance.
Ruler of Paris-Nice, with a superb performance in the time trial at the Col d'Eze (only 5" from the record of Wiggins), he would have taken even the top spot at the Criterium International, if it wasn't for the tactical game adopted by the team that eventually favored Froome.
With Porte, we have three important contenders for major stage races all within Team Sky: too many maybe?
QUINTANA: being the winner of the Giro dell' Emilia in 2012, he confirmed himself as being on the rise as a major player with a deserved victory in the Tour of the Basque Country, in front of Porte. Together with Henao, Uran, Betancur and other young riders, he is the confirmation of the reawakening of the South American cycling, offering athletes with compact and strong physiques on any terrain.
CONTADOR: surprisingly under par, especially uphill, he did not go beyond a third place at the Tirreno-Adriatico and a fifth place in the Basque Country. Even in the Ardennes Classics he showed obvious limitations, especially over the distance.
He is probably concentrated on the TdF only, but I have the impression of some physical limit.
EVANS: after a promising third place at the Tour of Oman, he did not show substantial progress, both uphill and in time trials. Still far from the levels of his 2009-2011 seasons.
DANIEL MARTIN: a worthy winner of Liège - Bastogne - Liège and the Tour of Catalonia (although favored by the crash of Valverde), he confirmed his progress in recent years, albeit with ups and downs in his performances.
CANCELLARA: dominated, although without any real opponent, Flanders and Roubaix. With Boonen out of the game due to health problems and crashes, and a still too "green" Peter Sagan being his only rival, the Swiss champion had an easy challenge on the cobblestones and muurs, despite two crashes between Flanders and Roubaix who posed his third triumph in the sprint at the velodrome at serious risk.
SAGAN: the 23 year-old Slovak surely won a lot, maybe he raced too much, but failed in the most important races, where he was the touted favorite, showing some limitations, for the moment, over the distance.
GILBERT: the world champion flunked his spring campaign, showing obvious limitations even at the distance, confirming the under-performances of 2012 (world championships apart), very different from those of previous years: an "involution" common with other leaders of the BMC team, such as Evans and Hushovd.