Tour of Ireland 2009: Stage 1 preview

Friday August 21
Stage 1: Powerscourt-Waterford, 196.4km

The race heads south from the Powerscourt estate in the pretty town of Enniskerry, through Wicklow and Carlow. It is bound for Waterford, once one of the largest ports in Europe.

There isn’t much to get in the way of a bunch sprint; aside from the rolling hills, the first-category climb of Mount Leinster just after halfway is the biggest obstacle facing the bunch.

The main problem for the other riders should be working out how to get past Mark Cavendish at the finish line.

That said, there’s a small chance that the overall classification could be whittled down today if, as happened in 2007, a large break with all the big teams represented gets away.

Mark Cavendish (Great Britain, Team Columbia-HTC)
Win number 21 for the year beckons here. As long as the breakaway is hoovered up in time, nigh-invincible Cav should stamp his mark on the race again; he won in Waterford in 2008.

Matti Breschel (Denmark, Saxo Bank)

Second in the Vattenfall Cyclassics and continuing to progress well. Will be in the thick of things.

Russell Downing (Great Britain, CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta)
Second overall last year, and packs a handy sprint.

Jeremy Hunt (Great Britain, Cervelo Test Team)
The experienced former national champion will be giving it a go in a couple of bunch gallops this week.

Alexander Kristoff (Norway, Joker-Bianchi)
Young Norwegian with good finishing kick.

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Stage map and profile
Tour of Ireland stage one