Sunday, July 04, 2010

TDF 2010: Stage One Preview

This mostly flat first 223.5 km stage from Rotterdam to Brussels is sure to favor the sprinters, and baring any unforeseen events like crosswinds and crashes, allow Fabian Cancellara to stay in the Yellow Jersey.

This stage will also be a testing ground for how well Mark Cavendish, last year's sprint wunderkind from the Isle of Man, is ready for this year's Tour.  If you've spent any time recently reading his book, Racer Boy, you would know that his training is often up and down--as it is with most riders, but in his case, a rough spring could really affect his performance.

He'll have a lot of competition. Tom Boonen of QuickStep, 2005 World Road Race champion, and 2007 TDF Green Jersey winner has been out of competition for the past couple of years because of cocaine use will be raring to go.

Other sprinters like Thor Huhovd, Cervelo, Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions, Robbie McEwen of Katusha and Oscar Freire of RaboBank who are better overall stage riders than Cavendish could have a good shot at the finish.

The roads from Rotterdam to Brussels are narrow with heavy winds, and promise splits, as well as early breakaways.

In the early first third of the race, there has already been a breakaway by Lars Boom of RaboBank, who was chased and caught by Perez Lezaun (EUS) and Wynants (QST). By 17 Km they have an advantage of 7 minutes 10 seconds, stretching to 7 minutes 30 seconds by 50 km.

Cavendish's book reveals the thinking of a sprinter on a flat stage: they believe, and often for good reason, that any breakaway should be reeled in by the end of the stage, giving the sprinters a chance to win the stage. That is if they don't screw it up with bad timing or wind peleton splits and for some reason let the breakway stay away too long.

We"ll see what today's stage reveals--the usual sprinter's set up, or the wild card unknown.

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