Paris – Nice 2015 Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Saint Remy les Chevreuse – Contres 196.5km

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The race starts it’s long drive South with a nice, easy day in the saddle.

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The only climb is just after 3km of the stage. Get over it first and you will wear the polka-dot jersey on stage 2. This will interest a lot of riders as you don’t have to continue with the break, just slip back into the bunch.

The 2nd intermediate sprint is just 11km from the end of the stage. Keep an eye on some of the clever GC riders trying to pick up 3 bonus seconds. Kwiatkowski and Thomas would be advised to try and jump away to take the time bonus. The other GC riders lack a sprint. If the Pole can take another 3 seconds, his lead will start to look very strong.

This stage is a nailed on sprint and I would be amazed if we didn’t get one. Nearly all the teams have sprinters and they will ensure the break doesn’t get too much of a lead and the final 10km will be very interesting to watch.

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Andre Greipel is the top sprinter here and his train is looking strong: Bak, Hansen, Sieberg and Henderson. They will be going up against Giant – Alpecin, who have Curvers, Sinkeldam and De Kort. These sprint trains look stronger than the rest, although Katusha might have something to say about that. Kristoff has 4 wins already but only arrives with Kuznetsov and Guarnieri. This certainly puts him at a disadvantage and he might have to launch his sprint from wheel 5. Not ideal!

Cofidis are slowly getting things right but now the pressure is on. Back in France, their sponsors will want to see results, justifying Bouhanni’s salary. They have Rollin, Ahlstrand and Soupe to guide Bouhanni into position. He does like this race, taking a win in 2014.

The other big French team, FDJ, are also expecting results. Demare had a poor start to the year but looked much better in Omloop. They opted not to let him ride KBK, a strange decision if you ask me. At least he should be nice and fresh here. He will have Bonnet, Chavanel and Delage as his lead-out men, a train that hasn’t looked good in 2015.

The other fast men here are Bonifazio, Swift, Coquard, Matthews, Van Genechten, Hofland, Nizzolo and Boonen.

Of these riders, Boonen will be the best placed. Etixx have a strong team here and they will ensure that Boonen is in a prime slot with 500metres to go. He picked up a 2nd place in Qatar and Oman, but will want to make the top step of the podium here.

Prediction Time

Greipel might still be missing a little power after being ill. If he’s not 100%, John Degenkolb has a great lead-out and put in a magnificent prologue time. A win here could move him to equal time with Kwiatkowski. Kristoff will be challenging but I think Degenkolb is the man for stage 1.

David Hunter

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