Ahead of this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic - where 150 of the world’s best cyclists will do battle over a 169km course - we pick out some of the key men to watch.
Sam Bennett, BORA-hansgrohe:
Bennett has been one of the top sprinters of the last couple of seasons. He consistently performs well at all races, with stage wins in five of the six stage races he has competed in this year. RideLondon serves as Bennett’s first chance to show off his new Irish champion jersey and with a strong team to support him and lead him out, he’ll be one of the main favorites for the win on Sunday. BORA-hansgrohe won the race last year with Pascal Ackermann and it wouldn’t be big a surprise if they come out victorious again this time around.
Arnaud Démare, Groupama-FDJ:
Fresh off a stage win at the Tour de Wallonie, Démare is definitely one to watch if the race ends with a bunch sprint. The Frenchman was one of the best sprinters in this year’s Giro d’italia where only a tactical mistake on one of the last stages cost him the points jersey. He won both sprint stages in La Route d'Occitanie at the end of June and given his current shape, we can only expect Démare to be in the mix again, fighting for his second win at RideLondon, following his triumph in 2013.
Caleb Ewan, Lotto Soudal:
The man of the moment. Caleb took three stage wins at the Tour de France, amongst them one on Champs-Élysées in Paris. If the Australian can carry his outstanding form with him to London, he will be a tough one to for the rest to overcome in a sprint. At the Tour, Ewan proved very able to win even without a leadout train. His speed in the final meters was unparalleled. Last year, he started this race but did not finish. This time, he might end up on the very top of the podium.
Philippe Gilbert, Deceuninck - Quick-Step:
Gilbert is a strong contender for almost any one-day race on the calendar. Even though RideLondon is seen as a sprinter’s race, this year’s more challenging course could prove to suit the Belgian well. He’s not afraid of attacking from afar and with his fast finish on the line, few will be able to outsprint him in a small group. Last week, Gilbert made the Top 3 twice at the Adriatica Ionica Race, proving his shape is just where it needs to be at the moment.
Daryl Impey, Mitchelton-SCOTT:
Like Gilbert, Impey will also like the new and more challenging course of the race. The South African champion took an impressive stage win at the Tour de France after a hard day in the saddle. He knows he will have to ride aggressively in this race as well if he’s to come out on top and with his fast finish, he too can win from a reduced group if the race splits up in the final part.
Alexander Kristoff, UAE Team Emirates:
As a former winner of the race, Kristoff will be eager to take the start after a disappointing end to his Tour de France, leaving him out of contention in the final sprint on Champs-Élysées. However, even though he didn’t get to show it much at the Tour, the Norwegian is in good shape at the moment and he now wants to capitalize on that in RideLondon. Kristoff is always best after a hard race and if that’s how it goes this year, it would be a big mistake to count him out prematurely.
Michael Matthews, Team Sunweb:
Another rider who didn’t get to capitalize on his good form at the Tour de France was Matthews. He came close several times but luck was not on his side this year. The versatile Australian even suffered a late mechanical problem on the final day, which left him out of the sprint in Paris. He’ll now be eager to bounce back at RideLondon where he has finished on the podium twice in the last three years. A hard race will favour Matthews and with a strong team to support him, he should be up there fighting for the top positions.
Mike Teunissen, Jumbo-Visma:
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s Tour de France was the winner of the opening stage as Teunissen came flying past Peter Sagan to take the first yellow jersey of the race. The Dutchman showed great shape throughout the whole Tour and being fast on the line – with a huge amount of added self-belief – Teunissen will be one to watch at RideLondon too, especially if the race gets hard on the final laps. He finished second here in 2015 when a small group broke away. Another podium performance this year won’t be a surprise given his current condition.
Sep Vanmarcke, EF Education First:
Vanmarcke thrives in hard one-day races and without a top candidate for a bunch sprint in the team, the strong Belgian will have to ride aggressively. He has been fourth at RideLondon twice before, once after a small group got away and once in a sprint. He clearly has what it takes to perform well on these roads and if we get a hard and challenging race on Sunday, Vanmarcke will be an obvious candidate to play an important role.
Elia Viviani, Deceuninck - Quick-Step:
Ever since his move to Deceuninck - Quick-Step, Viviani has been one of the best sprinters in the world. He has won stages in all three grand tours in the last two seasons and he has generally been in contention in all the races he has competed in. The Italian did not quite conclude the Tour on the best note, but there is no doubt that he has the speed to win this race. The team has several cards to play on Sunday, but if it comes down to a bunch sprint, Viviani will one of the top favorites for the win.