The route of the Tour de France’s 1st stage has got written bunch sprint all over it. Probably, echelons could ruin the party, but that’s basically the only thing that could stand in the way of fast finishers showdown. The course is extremely flat – the first 135 kilometres run along the coast, the last 66 kilometres turn inland.
Pocketing five victories, Marcel Kittel was in a class of his own in last year’s Tour de France. Dylan Groenewegen (on Champs-Élysées – Kittel already pulled out) and Arnaud Démare (after a chaotic and crash marked finale) took the other two sprints.
Kittel’s move to Katusha started to pay off quite late this season. But the German landed his first two victories in the Tirreno-Adriatico. Young Groenewegen seems to be a new big name though, the Dutchman won stages in the Dubai Tour, Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Tour of Norway, Tour of Slovenia, and pocketed his first Classic, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, while Kristoff powered to wins in the Tour of Oman and Abu Dhabi Tour before he added Eschborn-Frankfurt 2018 to his palmares. Arnaud Démare sprinted to the win in Paris-Nice’s 1st stage (uphill cobbled arrival), while he outgunned Fernando Gaviria in the recent Tour de Suisse.
Both Gaviria’s and Greipel’s season start have been plagued by setbacks, although they were not empty handed as they won early races – Gaviria in Latin America and Greipel at the Tour Down Under. Following his comeback the Colombian took three stages in the Tour of California – in a field with Kittel, Cavendish, Sagan, Kristoff, and Ewan – while Greipel sprinted to two victories in the Tour of Belgium.
Favourites 1st stage 2018 Tour de France
*** Dylan Groenewegen, Fernando Gaviria, Marcel Kittel
** André Greipel, Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare, Alexander Kristoff
* Michael Matthews, Mark Cavendish, Sonny Colbrelli, Magnus Cort Nielsen
Tour de France 2018 stage 1: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Profile 1st intermediate sprint
Details 1st intermediate sprint
Profile 2nd intermediate sprint
Details 2nd intermediate sprint
Teams hotels 1st stage
Noirmoutier and Fontenay le Comte at Google maps