Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach (Saint Marie du Mont)
188km Flat Stage – Suited to bunch sprint
Marcel Kittel has emerged as the dominant force in sprint finishes in recent years and the parcours of this stage suits him perfectly. He holds a remarkable statistic of winning the first sprint stage of every Grand Tour he has started. Given those stats it should be hard to look past Kittel to take home the Maillot Jaune on this stage. There are a couple of points to consider here though, the first being that, traditionally, the first stage of le Tour tends to end in absolute carnage. Every rider is fresh, the adrenaline is pumping and nobody has had any ambition beaten out of them. Secondly, that dreaded word amongst cyclists could rear it’s ugly head, crosswinds. Where there are crosswinds, there are echelons and splits in the peloton. If this happens, there will be chaos on the road as teams try to drop sprinters and also try to use the split to put time into some of the GC contenders.
Kittel – $2.00 (Best)
The fastest man on 2 wheels deservedly starts this stage as favourite. If the race unfolds as it should, his team will position him at the front just at the right time and he should be unbeatable in a bunch sprint.
Greipel – $4.00
‘The Gorilla’ beat Kittel in the recent German championships and he has the ability to do it again here. He’ll need to be at his very best but if he can position himself on Kittel’s wheel he has the speed to upset Kittel in a bunch sprint.
Cavendish – $9.00
The man that has dominated sprint finishes for a number of years might well be past his best, however he has never worn yellow in the tour. For Cav, with 26 stage victories, this surely is something that niggles at him. This stage could well be perfect for him to rectify that. He’ll be banking on a bunch sprint, coupled with a bit of chaos within the bunch, and if Renshaw can get Cav towards the pointy end of the sprint, he could spring a surprise.
Kristoff – $13
Not one of the very fastest sprinters but he does have excellent straight line speed. Also, if crosswinds play their part, Kristoff has the ability to position himself well to take advantage of any stage splits. He’ll need a bit of luck but the Wolf likes him at the price.
Roughie: Coquard – $19
No sprinter has as many victories as Bryan Coquard this season, 13, and he enters the tour in fine form. As previously mentioned, the 1st stage of the race tends to be mayhem. Coquard has the ability to take advantage of any confusion in the bunch sprint to win the stage.