29 June 2013

Tour de France 2013: Stage 1 Ponto Vecchio-Bastia #tdf

Today sees the start of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. If you follow me on Twitter I shall not be able to live tweet the stage today, as I am attending a family wedding. Indeed this year I shall not be tweeting most of the stages unlike the last three editions because unlike them I am working this year. But I do have all the ITV4 coverage getting recorded and so will catch up.

However, you'd think that after 99 previous editions there couldn't be anything new for the Tour to do. Well there is and the next three days put one of those right. One department of France had never hosted a Tour stage up to the end of the 2012 Tour. But today as the 198 riders role out from Ponto-Vecchio heading on a loop out south and then North up the coast to Bastia the Tour de France will have finally arrived in Corsica.

Of course not amongst those 198 is the man who should be wearing the number 1 as defending champion, Sir Bradley Wiggins. But then his team and Britain have back up in the man who came second last year Chris Froome. This year Froome has won the Tour of Oman, Criterium International and Tour de Romandie, before earlier this month securing a third successive British win in the Criterium du Dauphiné, after Wiggins two wins.

Two predictions for today, at the end of the stage the polka dot jersey will be on the shoulders of one of the riders in the first successful break to stay away. The reason being is that the only classified climb is Côte de Sotta some 45.5km into the 213km stage, rising to only 147m it is a 4th category climb. Now Belkin (formerly Blanco) have come to this Tour without a sprinter, deciding to leave both Theo Bos and Mark Renshaw behind so maybe they will try and get one of their men into that break in an effort to win a jersey at the end of day one.

Today's finish town of Bastia
The other prediction is that the break away will be hauled in, this is day one and the sprinters teams will want to stamp their authority on the line at Bastia. There will only be seven out and out sprinters finishes in this years Tour. And after his five from five in the Giro d'Italia Mark Cavendish certainly appears to have the form. The Manx man currently lies fourth in stage wins with 23 even in his worst year since his 2008 debut, last year, three stages would take him past André Leducq on 25. In his first four Tours he averaged five a tour which would bring him level with 2nd place Bernard Hinault. However, if he does win here today it would bring him to only 10 less that Eddy Merckx.

His rivals for victory today? Lotto's Andrei Greipel is always one to look out for as too is Argos Shimano's Marcel Kittel. FDJ's sprinter, Nacer Bouhanni, until last weekend was wearing the national colours of France, he did try and get the better of Cav in the early parts of the Giro last month before he withdrew. Orica-GreenEdge are another team who show they have the capability to establish a lead out train and will looking to deliver Matthew Goss to that line. As for Cannondale you can never rule out Peter Sagan wanting to get involved in the mix somewhere today.

No comments:

Post a Comment