The Tour doesn’t really need an introduction, it’s the TOUR. Easily one of the largest sporting events in the world, and certainly the biggest race of the pro cycling season.
For 2011, the Tour celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the first time the race was held in the Alps. The result is a route that doesn’t visit the high mountains for the first 10 stages. That’s not to say the first week will be easy!
Beginning in the Vendee region, stage 1 starts the first week with what might be a common theme: wind off the ocean, unpredictable weather, and tricky stage finishes. Stage 1 finishes up a 1-2k false flat that could leave the pure sprinters fighting for seconds. Look for Tyler Farrar or world champion Thor Hushovd to be battling for the win this Saturday.
In such a huge event, you hate to blow off other aspects of the race, but stage 2 is definitely for “all the marbles” in the first week of this year’s Tour. JV has made it very clear that we’re gunning for the victory in the team time trial. Riders like David Millar, David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Ramunas Navarduaskas all bring a huge amount of TTT experience with them to stage 2. With a team built around riders who are great time trialists, this will be a fun stage to watch!
Stages 3, 4, and 5 all share similar characteristics: none are truly flat, and all could present riders with strong cross winds off the ocean. Stage 5 includes a finish atop the “Mur de Bretagne” in the cycling, moule-frites, and crepes crazed Brittany region of France. There’s no way to call stages 3, 4, and 5 “sprinters” stages, but Tyler, Thor and possiby David Millar or Ryder Hesjedal might all have strong showings on these stages.
Stages 6 and 7 appear to be flatter, further away from ocean crosswinds, and will probably lead to large bunch sprints. Ace leadout man Julian Dean will definitely be helping Tyler Farrar look for a stage win on stages 6 and 7!
Team Garmin-Cervelo is poised with a great line up for this year’s Tour de France. The first week should be a great week for the team, we can’t wait to see it unfold!
View photos from previous editions of the Tour de France: