Tour de France 2016, stage one description, map and profile: Saturday, July 2
When Saturday, July 2
To Utah Beach
Category Flat stage
Impact on GC 2/5
Start: 12.50 CET
Finish: 17:18 CET
The Cotentin (or Cherbourg) Peninsula is surrounded by sea, which draws in the breezes, and there is little inland to stop them. Wind, especially crosswinds, will be a factor on the stage, because crosswinds can cause splits in the peloton, especially if one team uses them to make things difficult.
The riders leave Mont-Saint-Michel, and the 100 sheep grazing in the salt marshes that have been painted yellow, green or with red polka-dots to celebrate the Tour, and head inland.
The riders join the coast again close to Coutances, and will have the sea on their left shoulders all the way along north to Carteret. There they do a big right turn to cross the peninsula to the coast on the other side at Quinéville. Then they head south for the finish.
It should be a fairly uncomplicated stage, unless the forecast winds turn out to be very strong. That might make the coastal stretches tricky, particularly close to the finish.
There are few hills today. The early part is mostly flat, but the peninsula crossing is more undulating. And there are two short but quite steep climbs with about 30 kilometres to go. After them it’s a long straight run to the finish.
Expect to see the more Classics-focused teams try and make the most of the blustery conditions to force a split and put wiry GC contenders under pressure. This could be a day for the likes of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).
But if the bunch does manage to stay together, then it will be the first showdown between Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).