July 02, 2011
Stage 1 Preview
The Tour rolls out today over the Passage du Gois, but with the risks controlled, as the Passage itself is neutralized.
The stage itself winds along the French coast, then turns inland to finish at Mont des Alouettes. It's 191 km (119 miles), with a sting in the tail that's likely to leave Cavendish, Petacchi, Farrar et al. out of the running for the stage win.
Look instead for a Classics-style rider, and none of them has had a season to match Philippe Gilbert this year, making him the day's favorite. With the first yellow jersey of the Tour on offer, Thor Hushovd, Matt Goss, or Fabian Cancellara could also take the stage.
We may also get our first look at some teams' green jersey strategies. Organizers have changed the green jersey competition's rules, so the intermediate sprints, traditionally a non-factor in the competition, now are worth about half as much as a stage win. It's possible that we'll see competitors trying to wear the jersey by putting together a string of mid-stage placings.
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