On paper a stage for the sprinters… but just as paper is easily scattered by the wind, so too can the bunch be broken apart by crosswinds in the final. But the weather forecasts vary and the most likely scenario is a bunch sprint and a change in the overall lead.
Here’s the preview of Stage 1 including TV schedules, the weather, a local rapper and more.
Stage 1 is so flat that the only climb on the route is barely noticeable, 700 metres at 3.3%. Indeed the profile above shows it’s a fourth category climb… whilst the official 2013 rulebook for the race only lists three categories (1-2-3). Just as the highest cols are deemed hors catégorie for the Tour, perhaps this rise in the road is beneath categorisation?
Instead the two intermediate sprints are more tactical. Note time bonuses are available (3-2-1 seconds each time) and so there’s a chance for many sprinters – or breakaway candidates – to win back precious time as the yellow jersey is up for grabs.
The roadbook suggests a sharp left turn with 500 metres to go but it’s not so bad, the road sweeps. Instead this will be a lively sprint finish because the finale has several central dividing barriers in the middle of the road. Designed to separate traffic, bisecting the bunch is risky. Also the final 550 metres are narrow.
But riders will have a chance to test much of this as the race goes into Nemours and then out again for a 47km loop.
Several teams have sprinters and will want to win the stage. Take Elia Viviani and Cannondale as the Italian is just six seconds of the overall lead and ten second bonus for the win means taking the overall lead. Blanco’s Mark Renshaw is nine seconds back too.
Judging by the prologue results FDJ’s sprint train is going fast with Geoffrey Soupe and William Bonnet in the mix and they’ll try to deliver Nacer Bouhanni although it’s possible they reverse this to help Soupe or Bonnet (a previous stage winner in Paris-Nice) take the overall lead from Europcar. Talking of French rivalry have the erratic Yauheni Hutarovich, sometimes capable of beating the best but an infrequent winner. Will Tom Boonen sprint? With his eyes on the classics you can see the temptation to avoid trouble. IAM’s Heinrich Haussler might think the same too, a stage winner in the past he’s also crashed in the race. By contrast Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), Leigh Howard (Orica-Greenedge), Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Merida) have to sprint as it’s their job although Petacchi hasn’t won since May 2012 and Feillu’s last win was in June 2011.
Some forecasts say the wind could reach 40km/h but more conservative estimates suggest a 20km/h breeze from the south south-east is likely. The circuit finish means the clockwise finishing circuit could see crosswinds but the forecast winds don’t look strong enough to blow the race apart. Otherwise temperatures will reach 15°C (59°F).
Live video from 2.55 – 4.10pm Euro time on French TV and Eurosport and if you’re hungry, cyclingfans.com or steephill.tv will serve you the pirate feed.
Cofidis’s Romain Lemarchand is racing and from the town but has yet to make a big name for himself.
Nemours has a castle and some canals isn’t known for much but its housing projects launched the duel musical and boxing career of Daddy Lord C, a rapper who rose to fame in the 1990s who’s still going today, although doubling as a boxing coach. It’s an odd story as this is a market town with its quaint canals (the “Venice of the Gâtinais region”), castle and tidy town hall but its proximity to Paris meant it became a dormitory for the capital and from the 1960s onwards bold social housing projects were launched but they quickly went from utopian vision to, well, something less attractive. The town is now renovating and demolishing a lot of the housing and today’s stage finish is part of the rebranding exercise, to showcase the canals ahead of the canailles.
Tirreno-Adriatico starts later this week and I probably won’t have time to write daily previews… instead Mikkel Condé of C-Cycling will be sharing his daily previews on here whilst I supply Paris-Nice previews for him. His race previews are required reading and he’s bolder than me when it comes to forecasting the day’s winners. Today he’s backing Kittel with Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff as his outside pick:
Marcel Kittel is the big favorite today but it all depends on the wind. Strong cross wind expected. My joker is Kristoff. #ParisNice
— Mikkel Condé v2.0 (@mrconde) March 4, 2013