Tour de France Stage 1: Groenewegen to Provide Dutch Treat

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 5:54 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jul. 3, 2018 5:54 PM UTC

The 2018 Tour de France starts Saturday with a sprint stage in the Vendee region of France. Here’s a stage preview.

<h2>Tour de France Stage 1</h2><p>A flat route of 201 kilometers sees them spend more or less the first 135 kms hugging the Atlantic coastline. There is barely a bump in the road for most of the stage, but with 28 kms to go they go over a small CAt 4 bump which will decide the first KOM jersey wearer of the race. They head inland for the finish in Fontenay le Comte though and although there are a number of roundabouts to negotiate in the last 3 kms, the finishing straight is over a kilometer long and almost dead straight, rising slightly though to the line.</p><p><meta charset="utf-8" /><b id="docs-internal-guid-8661bfb6-6148-c4a0-68b5-44c79215a1ed"><img height="267" src="" width="602" /></b></p><h2>Contenders &amp; Favorites</h2><p>This is going to be an eye-balls-out, harem-scarem finish I think and you’ll need your wits about you to be in the first 10 coming in to the last kilometer. I think there is almost <a href="" title="Free Sports Picks">zero chance we will see anything other than a bunch sprint</a> and every team will be desperate for their man to win the stage, as they will take the yellow jersey and points jersey too.</p><p><a href="" title="Sports Betting Odds">Fernando Gaviria is the +$200 favorite to take the opening stage</a>, mostly down to the incredible team he has with him for the leadout in the last 3 kms. QuickStep Floors have Bob Jungels, Julian Alaphilippe, Max Richeze leading the way in a very strong leadout train, and Gaviria has the speed to finish off the job. He’s had six wins this season, but they were all in pretty low-quality events, and his form is questionable to me to be the +200 favorite.</p><p>Marcel Kittel has been the best sprinter in the world for the last three or four years, and took home five stage wins last year, including the very first road stage. He hasn’t been in great form this year at all with just two wins to his name all season, but we know how he peaks for the Tour.</p><p>His leadout wouldn’t be the best at all, they’ve got it wrong a lot in the past, but he has Rick Zabel, Nils Pollitt and Tony Martin to drag him in to position. He proved last year though that he doesn’t need a leadout, as long as he is near the first ten coming in to the last 300 meters, his power will take him clear. +$400 might look like an amazing price for him come Saturday evening.</p><p>Dylan Groenewegen is probably his biggest danger, the Dutchman has been in amazing form this year and has won nine times this year, the most wins of any sprinter here at the Tour. He took a while to get going in this race last year, but smashed the final stage on the Champs Élysées to take home a victory. A superb leadout man in Timo Roosen, he will go close to starting this race with a stage win.</p><p>Arnaud Démare took a fine stage win in Vittel last year, the day Sagan put Cavendish in the barriers, and he has been in good form this year too, winning a stage in the Tour de Suisse just a few weeks ago, beating Gaviria. Mark Cavendish looks an insanely big price at +$14000, for the man who has won more Tour de France stages than anyone else here. His form isn’t great this year and he’s had a lot of misfortune and crashes, but he is a class act and he will have his backers at a very big price.</p><p>Expect Andre Greipel, Alexander Kristoff, Sonny Colbrelli, Michael Matthews, John Degenkolb, and Peter Sagan -- all world-class sprinters who have won races at the highest level -- to be contesting the win too, but they might have to settle for 5th to 10th.</p><p>I think this stage has Dylan Groenewegen’s name written all over it, though. The Dutchman has looked the fastest sprinter in the world this year and comes here full of confidence and with an expert leadout man that will get him in the first 5 coming in to the last 500 meters, and his speed such finish the job. The +$110 for Marcel Kittel to finish in the first 3 is too tempting also, so I’m backing that too.</p><h2 style="text-align:center">Free Cycling Picks:</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">2 pts. win on Dylan Groenewegen at +$275</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">1 pt. on Marcel Kittel to finish in the first 3 at +$110</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Lines Offered: <a href=";book=Bet365" rel="nofollow" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">Bet365</a></h2>
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