The 5 day race opens with a nice day for the sprinters.
They tackle a small cat 3 climb and the road does have a small kick-up 20km from home.
I can’t see how this stage wouldn’t end in a bunch sprint though.The sprinters here are:
Hutarovich – AG2R
Gavazzi – Astana
Martens – Belkin
Viviani – Cannondale
Bouhanni – FDJ
Von Hoff – Garmin
Tsatevitch – Katusha
Matthews – Orica
Mezgec – Argos
Markus – Vacansoleil
Hushovd – BMC
Petacchi – OPQS
Ferrari – Lampre
Lobato – Euskaltel
This has to be a 3 way fight between Viviani,Bouhanni and Matthews.
Preparation could be the key and Matthews has been in China since Monday,so he should be very fresh for stage 1.Although,the other 2 are faster on a stage like this.
Viviani raced well in the Tour of Britain,winning 1 stage and having two 2nd places.He got close to Cavendish and I make him a slight favourite.
Bouhanni is good but doesn’t seem to travel well.He’s only won 1 race outside of France this year,stage 6 in Oman.
Matthews won two stages at the Vuelta,but wasn’t consistent enough for me.
I think this is going to be very close,but I’ll go for Viviani.
An outsider for the podium is Barry Markus.