By Sophie Smith
Garmin-Sharp sports director Charly Wegelius has adopted a pragmatic approach in his analysis of the opening road stages of this year’s Tour de France here amongst murmurs some of the iconic narrow lanes that feature may be dangerous.
Wegelius will be in the driving seat when the peloton leaves Leeds on Saturday and there is perhaps no better person to ask than the former pro, who was educated in York and made his Tour debut in 2007 when the prestigious race last visited UK shores.
“I think there is a lot of comparisons you could draw between the start in Yorkshire and the first stages in Corsica last year - similar kinds of roads, hard stages and lots of potential traps sitting behind every corner," Wegelius told Cycling Weekly.
"As every race situation unfolds for some people that can be a risk, something to be afraid of, and for others it can turn into an opportunity. You don’t know often which side of that coin you’re going to be on until things happen.”
The Yorkshire Grand Depart is expected to suit sprinters like that of Corsica last year where Marcel Kittel stayed clear of a pile-up in the closing kilometres to win the ensuing bunch sprint and first yellow, green and white jersey of the race.
Kittel upon Yorkshire course reconnaissance earlier this year highlighted potential dangers some of the narrow lanes may present and voiced a preference for wider roads. The peloton is typically nervous and consequently more susceptible to crashes in the first week where positioning will be important.
“A lot of people are going to have squeeze by but somebody is going to win three stages of the Tour de France by the time we leave the UK, and that’s not to be dismissed,” Wegelius said.
The 26-year-old Kittel will, like last year, have the opportunity to win the first maillot jaune of the Tour this weekend. However, the German’s Giant-Shimano team also has a more versatile option in John Degenkolb, who has some similar strengths to defending green jersey champion Peter Sagan (Cannondale), should the finale prove too tough for pure sprinters like Kittel, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) to name a few.
Read Charly Wegelius's Tour de France expert column in Cycling Weekly magazine, which is out tomorrow.
Chris Froome reveals the race he'd like to win before retirement
The seven-time Grand Tour winner speaks about how tech and data help younger riders get to the top earlier and how it helps recovery
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Coldplay perform using energy powered by 60 cyclists
The cyclists powered the music performances at the inaugural Earthshot Prize
By Ryan Dabbs •
Marcel Kittel reveals the power numbers and effort behind his most successful Tour de France years
Marcel Kittel has revealed some of the staggering power numbers behind his most successful Tour de France years in a new study.
By Alex Ballinger •
'You miss the big sprinters' : How absence of Cavendish & Kittel has changed the Tour de France sprints
Riders give their views on how Tour de France sprints change without two of the race's best ever sprinters
By Gregor Brown •
Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel eliminated from 2018 Tour de France after failing to make time cut on stage 11
Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel have been eliminated from the 2018 Tour de France after suffering and getting dropped on Wednesday's tough mountain stage.
By Henry Robertshaw •
Mark Cavendish scrapes through first Tour de France mountain stage as he finishes just 28 seconds inside time limit
Mark Cavendish and fellow sprinters Marcel Kittel and Dylan Groenewegen scraped through the first Tour de France mountain stage by the skin of their teeth.
By Henry Robertshaw •
Marcel Kittel: 'I’m not putting a big question mark over my future with Katusha'
The German says he's fully focused on turning his Tour de France fortunes around with the team despite being openly criticised by his sports director
By Richard Windsor •
Marcel Kittel hoping for change of fortunes as Tour de France winless run continues
Marcel Kittel is hoping for a change in fortune over the rest of the Tour de France after going winless over the first seven stages of the race so far.
By Paul Knott •
Five talking points from stage 17 of the Tour de France
Roglic takes it in style, Kittel breaks, Contador gives it one last throw of the dice and more talking points from stage 17 of the Tour de France
By Craig Cunningham •
Marcel Kittel abandons the 2017 Tour de France on stage 17
The green jersey wearer quits in the Alps after an early crash
By Richard Windsor •