A route for the sprinters but with so few of them in the race it could give others a chance to get away knowing not enough teams will chase. Once again don’t get caught out by the early finish.
Stage 1 Wrap: a win for Peter Kennaugh. When Team Sky launched with the idea of winning the Tour de France one day some people were amused by the claim and Kennaugh was the rider tipped as the future winner rather than Bradley Wiggins or Chris Froome. But in recent years he’d not got the results expected of a grand tour talent and was beginning to look like a British version of Cyril Gautier. Who? Europcar’s punchy rider was was tenth yesterday, useful on the hills and handy in a sprint sometimes but with few wins on the road to show for it. Kennaugh is said to be open to offers in the jobs market and when he stroked his jersey it looked like he was pointing to the British stripes rather than the Sky logo. His win will help, he and others went clear on the last climb before he attacked the group with 2.5km to go to hold off the sprinters. Sky are already in control of the race.
The Route: the route starts uphill with the Col du Chat. This shouldn’t be confused with the nearby Mont du Chat, a fearsome climb that the Dauphiné or Tour de France should brave one day. But the Col is a steep climb that requires a warm up otherwise the peloton will taste breakfast again.
The route proceeds along past the Lac du Bourget and tracks the Rhone valley north before it climbs the to the Plateau de Retord. The first category climb might sound scary but it’s early in the stage and 8.7km at a manageable 6.7% average and without any steep surprises. And that’s it, the race descends off the plateau and heads across the flat lands to the Parc des Oiseaux (“Bird Park”) and a flat finish. The profile looks pan flat but it rolls a bit but that’s all.
The Finish: flat and with no obstacles to speak of.
The Contenders: the first category climb should not worry the sprinters, indeed the likes of Nacer Bouhanni are riding the Dauphiné to get their mountain legs ahead of the Tour de France. A sprint finish seems likely rather than certain because there are not enough teams with sprinters to guarantee this.
Sacha Modolo is the prime pick, he won the bunch sprint yesterday just behind Kennaugh and this is his chance before Giro fatigue sets in. Nacer Bouhanni is a close second, he will be desperate to win this because it’s either today or Wednesday or the Dauphiné becomes a mountain training camp. Yesterday’s hilly circuit ejected half his Cofidis sprint train and he expects to be steaming to the finish line with a first class ticket today. Edvald Boasson Hagen completes a trio of obvious picks as he’s in form and the best of MTN-Qhubeka’s sprint options.
Otherwise look to Luka Mezgec, Kris Boeckmans, Jonas Van Genechten or Alexey Tsatevitch among the sprinters. If they and their teams don’t set up the sprint it’s hard to find a winner. Sky might well try to control the race too.
|Sacha Modolo, Nacer Bouhanni|
|Edvald Boasson Hagen|
|Mezgec, Boeckmans, Van Genechten, Tsatevitch|
Weather: 21°C and the chance of a thunderstorm later in the day. There’s no wind and the flat third of the stage is known for its calm weather.
TV: the finish is expected for 2.45pm CET. The early part of the stage would be stunning to watch but it won’t be on TV, coverage only picks up the final hour.
It’s an ASO race so you should find it on the same channel as you watch the Tour de France. It’s on Eurosport too and if all else fails you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.