RideLondon Classic 2016 preview: riders to watch

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RideLondon-Surrey Classic 2016 – preview: six riders who could star in the capital

National champions and Tour de France stars set to race in the capital

Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) headlines a strong start list for the fourth edition of the RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday July 31.

Froome is one of three 2016 Tour de France stage winners set for the St James Park start line, along with Steve Cummings, who, like Froome, will use the race as preparation for the Olympic Games and Australian Michael Matthews.

Chris Froome will his hone his form for Rio 2016 at the RideLondon-Surrey Classic (Pic: Sirotti)

Now four years on from the London 2012 Olympic Games, the legacy event has seen Arnaud Demare, Adam Blythe and defending champion Jempy Drucker win in front of Buckingham Palace in its three editions to date.

This year’s race will follow the same route as last year’s edition, when Drucker won from a small breakaway, with three ascents of Ranmore Common sandwiched by a climb each of Leith Hill and Box Hill.

– RideLondon-Surrey Classic and Classique 2016: TV schedule –

The 200km which also includes four intermediate sprints in Dorking, and heads back into central London for a grandstand finish  The Mall.

The punchy circuit in Sunday is prime territory for a breakaway to get away, with both Drucker and Blythe before him sprinting to victory from small groups, but who will emerge victorious on Sunday?

We’ve taken a closer look at the key riders bidding for a share of the biggest one-day Classic prize pot on the UCI Europe Tour.

Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing

Rolling out in dossard number one as defending champion, Luxembourg’s Jempy Drucker bagged his first BMC Racing victory in last year’s race.

Drucker has since backed that up with victory in the prologue of this year’s Tour de Luxembourg and is part of a strong BMC Racing team all capable of getting in the right moves.

Jempy Drucker, pictured here after victory in the prologue of the 2016 Tour de Luxembourg, won the 2015 RideLondon-Surrey Classic (Pic: Sirotti)

Daniel Oss loves a breakaway, while Marcus Burghardt brings plenty of experience to the start line.

BMC Racing are one of seven WorldTour teams set for the race, and while Drucker has earned his moment in the sun, he faces a big task to make it two consecutive wins given the strength of the field this time out.

Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky

Ben Swift has finished both second and third at RideLondon, both times getting in the right breakaway but being unable to make it count on The Mall.

Second at this year’s Milan-San Remo, Swift has plenty of top-ten finishes to his name but the Yorkshireman is without a race win since last year’s Coppi e Bartali.

Ben Swift finished second at Milan-San Remo earlier this year (Pic: Sirotti)

Nevertheless, Team Sky have a fiercely strong line-up with a number of cards to play. Sprinter Danny van Poppel won a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire earlier this year, while Froome, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard will all arrive in London off the back of the Tour de France, looking to hone their form for the Rio 2016 road race.

If Swift is the man they choose to back, he has shown before he can follow the right moves in the Surrey Hills – now he just needs to finish it off.

Steve Cummings (GBR) – Dimension Data

Given the last two editions of RideLondon have been won from a breakaway, who better to look out for than Steve Cummings, who bagged his second Tour de France stage win earlier this month.

Cummings has forced his way onto the plane for Rio 2016, and the Merseysider is more than capable of departing for Brazil with a victory, having become the master of the late attack

Steve Cummings is another Tour de France 2016 stage winner set for RideLondon (Pic: Sirotti)

Cummings’ Tour stage win was his fourth of the season, each one coming from a breakaway and each proving his ability to get clear and stay clear.

The Surrey Hills provide a great platform for attacking, and Cummings certainly has the engine to make something stick.

Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-BikeExchange

Michael Matthews is another sprinter set for the race who’s not afraid of mixing it up over the climbs.

A stage win at the Tour de France, from the breakaway on stage ten to Revel, proved as much as the Australian secured his fourth victory of the season ahead of Peter Sagan.

Michael Matthews is well-suited to a course like that at RideLondon, possessing both a fast sprint and the ability to battle in the breakaway (Pic: Sirotti)

Matthews should be well suited to a race like RideLondon and with Paris-Roubaix champion Mat Hayman among those supporting him, the Orica-BikeExchange squad arrives well-equipped.

Their big goal for the weekend comes at the Clasica San Sebastian the day before, when Britain’s Adam Yates will bid for a second consecutive victory, but if all goes well then, Matthews could complete a perfect weekend for the team.

Tom Boonen (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep

Etixx-QuickStep are sending some of their biggest Classics specialists to London for Sunday’s race, and they don’t come much bigger than former world champion, three-time Tour of Flanders winner and four-times Paris-Roubaix victor  Tom Boonen.

In a team also set to include another Paris-Roubaix winner in Niki Terpstra and two-time Tour de France stage winner Matteo Trentin – both of whom could also be contenders – Boonen has already celebrated a new contract at Etixx-QuickStep with victory on stage one of the Tour de Wallonie.

Tom Boonen is part of a strong Etixx-QuickStep line-up (pic: Sirotti)

That victory was the 110th pro win of his career, and though his star has waned in recent years – third place at Paris-Roubaix not withstanding – you write off the Tommeke at your peril.

Trentin was also a stage winner in the Tour de Wallonie and took home the points classification jersey too. With a Giro d’Italia stage win also to his name this year, he could feature in either the breakaway or from a bunch sprint.

Adam Blythe (Great Britain)

Winner in 2014, Adam Blythe returns to RideLondon in 2016 for his first act as national champion.

Blythe earned the right to pull on the red, white and blue-striped jersey by outsprinting Mark Cavendish in Stockton – and, let’s face it, Cavendish has had a pretty decent month since.

Adam Blythe celebrates victory at the National Championships (Pic: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

Blythe’s Tinkoff team is absent from RideLondon, so Blythe will instead ride for a strong Great Britain team which also includes Alex Dowsett and Dan McLay.

McLay proved his sprinting potential at the Tour de France and could also show himself here, while Dowsett is back on form and won the final time trial stage of the Tour de Pologne.

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