Stage one: Brest?Plumelec, 197.5km

What will happen?
The Tour de France gets off to an uncharacteristic start with a road stage. Day one is always nervous ? today it?ll be off the scale. Everyone will be on tenterhooks. Riders who could never dream of winning the prologue go into this with a chance.

The big favourites will be unbelievably edgy, anxious to keep out of trouble and avoid the inevitable crashes, especially if it?s windy.

Early opportunities
With the first fourth-category climb coming after only 29.5-kilometres, the attacks will be firing off in all directions from the start. Three of the day?s four climbs are done and dusted by the 85-kilometre mark, meaning that a guaranteed place on the podium as the first recipient of the polka-dot jersey could be wrapped up before lunch.

Once a suitable break goes ? suitable meaning not too big but including enough teams to dissuade a chase ? things will settle down a bit in the peloton.

The run-in
The break will be allowed its head until the final 40 kilometres or so, when the battle to reel them in will step up a gear. The roads of Brittany are not ideal for a chase so the gap may not come down too rapidly.

Expect the attacks to start again as they approach the run-in. It?s unlikely anyone will get enough of a gap to hold on to on the final 1.7-kilometre climb, the Côte de Cadoudal.

Instead, the fireworks will start on the climb, with the pure sprinters unable to stand the pace, opening the door for the sort of riders who excel in the Classics.

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) ? He’s finished fifth at Flèche Wallonne before and the climb at the finish is not as severe as the Mur de Huy. It’s lumpy and bumpy all day ? similar to Classics territory. The finish will rule out the pure sprinters and Rabobank have the firepower to help nullify the attacks. Then it’s down to the former world champion’s sprint.

Sunshine and showers, moderate south-westerly wind which should mean a tailwind for the finish as they approach Plumelec.

British Eurosport 11.15 ? 16.45
ITV4 14.30 ? 16.30

Tour de France 2008: Stage one info, map, profile


Tour de France 2008 homepage>>
News and features>>
Route & stages>>
Teams and riders>>
About the Tour>>