Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) *****
The defending champion made a winning return to racing at the Giro della Toscana a few days ago, suggesting he has the form to be crowned champion in Krakow for a second year in a row. The final time trial will be his trump card, and, if he can reduce his losses in the mountains, will be difficult to beat.
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Fabio Aru (Astana) ****
Having taken two months off racing since his breakthrough ride at the Giro, Aru’s form is a mystery. But if he rides even a fraction as well as he did in Italy – where he thrilled the tifosi with a stage win and third overall – then he’ll be a contender. As one of the most exciting talents in the peloton, his presence could have an exciting influence on the race.
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) ***
As the local favourite Majka will be more motivated than most, but it will be difficult for him to maintain his form. His successful Tour de France – where he won two stages and the mountains classification – came off the back of a competitively ridden Giro in which he finished sixth overall, and his young legs must surely be crying out for a rest.
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r) ***
The prodigiously talented Colombian is the wildcard in the startlist. His obvious ability was on display at Paris-Nice, which he managed to win despite reportedly being over his ideal racing-weight. Since then he has gone AWOL, having failed to catch his flight to France and subsequently missing both the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France. He hasn’t ridden since April, so it’s impossible to tell which Betancur will turn up (if at all).
Jon Izagirre (Movistar) **
The Spanish National Champion has in the last few years left his best racing for the Tour of Poland, having finished seventh in 2012 and a very impressive second in 2013. The 25-year old continued to show potential at the Tour where he rode well for teammate Alejandro Valverde, and will be one to watch in the mountain stages.
Moreno Moser (Cannondale) **
Moser returns to the Tour of Poland for the first time since winning the overall in 2012. The Italian has had a relatively quiet year and failed to make much of an impression on his debut Giro d’Italia, so will be looking to improve his season with a good ride. The presence of the big climbs in stages five and six are likely to harm his GC chances, however.
Julian Arredondo (Trek) **
The young Colombian was one of the most exciting things about the Giro d’Italia, with his constant attacks and pure climbing style. This will be his first race since, so it remains to be seen whether he can replicate such form. Regardless, the final time trial is likely to scupper his chances of winning the GC.
Ones to Watch
Ben Swift (also Edmundson, EBH)