By David Hunter
Stage 1 Lyon – Lyon 10.4km
The race opens with a short ITT.
The forecast is for a beautiful sunny day, no more Giro rain! The wind is coming from the South, so will be a crosswind and headwind for the whole stage. Crucially it is 6mph for the earlier starters and 8mph for the later riders. Keep an eye out for the beautiful tunnel the riders will go through, it’s quite something!
We have a small climb in the middle of the stage, but I get the feeling the organisers have only categorised it, to award someone the KOM jersey, at the end of the stage. It is only 800 metres at 5.5%.
The stage can be split into 3. The opening section is nice and straight to allow the riders to hit their maximum speed. The middle section is fairly technical, up to the climb and down the descent. The run for home is nice, with only a few corners.
The shortness of the stage, means that the GC riders should not have big gaps between them and it gives an opportunity to a short TT specialists to win a stage. We have a few in the race.
Michal Kwiatkowski won the 13.6km ITT in Algarve and the 5.57km prologue in Romandie. He has to be the favourite for the stage.
Geraint Thomas recently won the 25.5km ITT in Bayern Rundfahrt and he won the 3.34km prologue in Romandie, back in 2012.
Sylvain Chavanel was 3rd in the recent 16.7km ITT, in Belgium and won the 13.2km ITT in the 2013 Eneco Tour.
Lars Boom was 2nd in the 10.9km ITT in Qatar, only beaten by 1 second by Michael Hepburn.
Maciej Bodnar won the 14.3km ITT in De Panne. He is the Polish ITT champion, winning this in both 2012 and 2013.
Alexis Gougeard is in great form, having just won the Boucles de l’Aulne. He won the 5.1km prologue in the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir. In the recent Criterium International, he was down in 18th in the ITT, but he had been in the break earlier in the day, during stage 1a.
Froome, Contador, Talansky, Van Garderen, Kiryienka, Jungels, Vorobyev, Westra, Barta, Porte and Kelderman are all capable of doing good rides, but they will have to be on great form to win the stage.
Out of these riders Froome is the obvious choice. Surprisingly, he only won his first ITT in 2013. He followed this up with a win in the Romandie ITT, earlier this year. He has never won an ITT of this length.
If the wind picks up as expected, the early riders have a massive advantage. Going out early are Kelderman, Spilak, Gougeard, Konig, Boom, Kwiatkowski, Jungels, Porte and Bodnar. I think it has to be a win for Kwiatkowski.
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