By David Hunter
Stage 1 Terneuzen – Terneuzen 182.1km
The race opens with a flat day, but beware as wind is about! There is a chance of rain, all day, and a strong crosswind for the majority of the stage. This is going to make for nervous riding as nobody wants to lose time in the first stage.
Some GC contenders might use this as an opportunity to put some riders under pressure. OPQS are the masters, so other teams have to be very attentive.
There are many sprinters in the race but the biggest of them all is Andre Greipel. The Gorilla, is missing Greg Henderson, so lead-out duties go to Jurgen Roelandts. Their last outing was on the Champs-Élysées, and was a disaster. These two riders are very inconsistent as a pair.
The other top sprinters here are Nacer Bouhanni, Luca Mezgec, Sacha Modolo and Andrea Guardini.
Bouhanni comes into the race very fresh, but possibly needs racing in his legs.
Mezgec crashed in Poland and quit the race to heal his injuries.
Modolo’s form was growing through Poland and he should be back on form here.
Guardini won 2 stages in Denmark, so should be full of confidence.
In 2013, the opening stage, saw Mark Renshaw go off the front of the bunch with 1km remaining. He easily held off the peloton to claim the stage. Will a lone break manage to repeat history?
If Tom Boonen wants to win a sprint stage, his team need to eliminate a lot of the sprinters.
This is a hard one! Bouhanni lacks racing, Greipel lacks Henderson, Mezgec crashed recently and Modolo is getting back to form. Add in the wind and possible echelons and it makes it almost impossible.
I’m going back to Modolo. Sacha was getting back to his best in Poland and Richeze is back to guide him home.
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