Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Le Tour de France: Stage 1 Preview

         The Tour de France is the greatest annual multi-day sporting event on the planet. For the 20th time the Tour is beginning outside of France. The Tour will spend three days in England before hopping over the channel back into France. The first two stages will be held in the Yorkshire region with the third stage ending in London.

            The Tour this year has forgone an opening prologue or time trial and has chosen to run a traditional road stage on the opening day. Luckily, for the sprinters the stage is fairly flat and a bunch sprint looks destined to happen. The stage starts in Leeds and moves in a huge circle in a clockwise direction before finishing in the small town of Harrogate (home to Mark Cavendish’s mother). There are three climbs packed into the middle of the stage (1 cat. 4, 2 cat. 3). The sprinters appear a bit worried about these climbs, but with 60 kilometers still to race once the final one is peaked I believe they should all get back, even though I do not think any of them will be dropped on the climbs. 

            The big news about the start in Harrogate, are the narrow roads. Crashes are inevitable in the first week of the Tour with all of the nerves in the peloton, but you add in narrow roads and you are just asking for a disaster. Tom Danielson (not riding the Tour this year) said on NBCsports pre-race show, “You can have a straight road with no obstacles, and [the peloton] will find a way to make it carnage alley.” Marcel Kittle was also recently quoted saying there is no place for these kinds of roads in cycling. He went on to question the organizers take on rider safety. The main thing is everyone expects there to be a huge crash so being at the front of the peloton will be vital.

            Assuming all of the sprinters make it through the climbs we should see the Big 4 go head-to-head to claim the coveted maillot jaune. Peter Sagan (CAN) is not a true and true sprinter and needs a bit of tougher course to weed out some of the faster men so I would look for him to win on stage 2. Andre “The Gorilla” Greipel  (LTB) is next in line. He comes into the Tour with the most wins out of everyone, but I believe he won’t have that final burst of speed to win. Marcel Kittle (GIA) took the maillot jaune on day one last year. He’ll be looking to repeat that feat and take home a second yellow jersey. None of the other sprinters have as much pressure as Mark Cavendish (OPQS). His mom lives in Harrogate and during interviews he has recalled playing ball on the finishing straight for the day’s stage. Plus Cavendish will look to take back the crown of world’s fastest man. Furthermore, look for outsiders like French sprinter Arnaud Demare (FDJ) or young-gun Boy Van Poppel (TFR) to disrupt the Big 4.

My pick is Marcel Kittle. He has looked dominate all season from three stage wins at the Tour of Dubai to back-to-back wins at the Giro before having to leave due to a fever. We have not seen the Cavendish or Kittle go head-to-head all season so it should be a fantastic first stage.

*Note: Trek Factory Racing begins the Tour with the youngest and oldest riders, Danny Van Poppel (20) and Jens Voight (42)

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