Tour de France 2013 stage one
Saturday, June 29
From Porto Vecchio
Stage type Flat
IMPACT ON THE RACE
Yellow jersey 1/5
Green jersey 5/5
Polka-dot jersey 0/5
WHERE ARE WE?
For the first time ever, the Tour de France visits Corsica, a wild, craggy island in the Mediterranean inhabited by wild, craggy people.
The locals will be the first to tell you that you’re not in France, you’re in Corsica. The island is fiercely independent, a state of mind that has occasionally manifested itself in physical violence. Corsica’s most famous son is a short individual with a domineering personality and an inability to suffer fools gladly: no, not Mark Cavendish, Napoleon.
Corsica is a landscape of rugged hills, dusty forests, extraordinarily pungent cheese and sausages and stunning vistas. The sun shines here for more hours on average per year than in any other region, so the British press pack will be suffering horrendous sunburn right from day one of the race, to add to the indigestion.
WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
Christian Prudhomme obviously feels that it’s been too long since a sprinter has enjoyed finishing the first day of the race in the yellow jersey (Thor Hushovd managed it in 2006, but he did have to win the Prologue in order to do so). ASO has managed to find the only flat road in Corsica, the N198, which tracks its way down the east coast of the island after a mildly undulating start.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
The likelihood of there being a sprint today is so high that if a breakaway succeeds in staying away, we will swim back to mainland France after the Corsican stages are done.
Although any number of sprinters will fancy their chances of winning this stage, the Tour organisers are well aware of the grand narrative of their race. The finest sprinter ever to take part in the Tour, Mark Cavendish, has never worn the yellow jersey, thanks to a succession of opening stages involving individual time trials or uphill finishes, and the fact they have removed time bonuses from the stage finishes.
This is Cavendish’s chance to wear the yellow jersey and will be the biggest sprint of his year.