2022 Tour de France Stage 1 Preview

Copenhague > Copenhague 13.1km ITT

The Tour kicks off in Denmark with a 13.1km ITT. The route contains a number of corners, but I wouldn’t say it was technical.

Most of it takes place on wide roads, meaning that the corners will be able to be taken at speed, as long as it’s dry, which will favour the TT specialists. The second half of the route does feature some tighter corners, but all the contenders will know the roads inside out. The prize for the winner is the first yellow jersey of the race, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.

Weather

We’ve all been keeping an eye on this during the week. The race begins at 1600, local time, and we have a risk of showers from around 1800. This means that the later riders will be out on wet roads, which ruins their chances of challenging for the win. Teams are wise to this, nearly all of the top contenders for the stage and GC are out in the opening 90 minutes. 

Contenders

Filippo Ganna – he’s making his Tour debut, which is something of a surprise when you consider he’s 25. In both 2020 and 2021 he won the opening TT of the Giro, he’s a bit of a specialist at this. Both Giro wins he recorded a speed of between 58 and 59km/h, he is incredible at holding close to 60 for around 15 minutes. He starts on a brand new bike, Ineos spare no expensive when it comes to their equipment. The Tour doesn’t always start with a TT, this could be a one in a lifetime chance to wear the yellow jersey, that’s why his focus all year has been on this day. The number of corners in this route will likely slow his speed a little, but I would still expect him to be around 57km/h, can anyone else match him?

Wout Van Aert – there’s been a lot of talk about his injured knee, it’s hardly ideal preparation for the race. Like all those with a chance of winning this stage, he’s been dreaming of winning the stage and wearing the yellow jersey, but recent events will have an impact on his performance. He’s pushed Ganna very close in recent TTs, I sense he’s getting closer and closer to the level of the Italian, but he needs to be 100% to win.

Stefan Bissegger – one of the recent army of people who’ve had COVID. He tested positive on 17th June, and had to quit the Tour de Suisse. Only him and the team will know if it had any impact on him and his preparations, but it certainly isn’t ideal. This year he beat Ganna by 7 seconds over just 9km in the UAE Tour ITT, a performance that raised a lot of eyebrows. He’s taking no risks with the rain and starts at 1607, nearly 1 hour before Ganna. This could give him a big advantage if the rain falls earlier than predicted, but it also means that Ganna will know his time before he starts. He’ll definitely be in the hot seat, but will he win the stage?

Mathieu van der Poel – just lost out to Simon Yates in the Giro TT over 9km, but the level here is going to be much higher. Last year he surprised in the Tour TT, by finishing 5th over 27km. He’s not someone who spends a lot of time training on his TT bike, which makes his results all the more astonishing. I doubt he’ll win, but you just never know with him.

Tadej Pogačar – he was 3rd in the Tirreno TT this year, 18 seconds behind Ganna over 14km. Beating the heavier riders in this type of TT will be almost impossible, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finish in the top 5.

Stefan Küng – 2022 has been an incredible year for Küng, he’s made significant progress in the classics and stage races. If the roads are wet for all, he would be my favourite, he’s a step above in tricky conditions. Winning will be hard, but the podium is a realistic ambition.

Mads Pedersen – can he take a fairy tale win? He should know every inch of this course, and he’s spent a lot of time this year working on his TT bike. His recent performance in the Belgium Tour did surprise me, losing 7 seconds over 12km to Lampaert was a pretty poor showing. To win this stage he needs to be significantly better, I think he’ll hope to finish within 10 seconds of the winner and look to take yellow before the race leaves Denmark.

Geraint Thomas – don’t write him off, he’ll be up there challenging for the win. Cast your mind back to 2017, he won the opening TT in Germany, in terrible conditions. He pushed Remco very close over 25km in the recent Tour de Suisse, his current form is excellent. He’s another who’ll benefit from using the very best equipment, we could see Ineos pepper the top 10.

Prediction Time

It all depends on when the rain falls, but I can’t base my prediction on a weather forecast. Ineos to dominate and Filippo Ganna to take the yellow jersey.

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