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TdF stge 1 Monaco ITT, 15.50 km

The opening time trial is back in the Tour de France after one year of absence. The length of 15.5 kilometers also means it can't be called a prologue, so the Tour will start with a regular stage one this year. The venue is the Prince-state Monaco, the mini-state founded by the Grimaldi's in 1297 which inhabits more 'foreigners' than Monagasks by now because of the excellent tax-benefits.

Because of the fifteen kilometers length of this time trial, this opener also leads across French soil while the chosen route is anything but easy. The start is on the Boulevard Albert I and the riders find themselves climbing even before the first kilometer is done. The casino road is four-hundred meters at twelve percent incline to get to the higher positioned part of town. Past the Jardin Exotique, Monaco's botanic gardens, the route now takes the riders outside Monaco's border and the climb of the Côte de Beausoleil commences.

This climb is a bit in between a real ascent and a false flat, the summit at 7.5km. The first points for the polka dot jersey are divided here and a fast descent follows with, right at where Monte Carlo's tennis courts are, several hairpin bends. The last three kilometers lead across the Avenue Princesse Grace and the Boulevard Louis II, including the famous tunnel that's part of the Formula-I roadrace.

The finish of this time trial is situated in front of Monaco's harbour, opposite the swimming pool. The first rider leaves the podium at four o'clock, while Carlos Sastre's turn is at eight minutes past seven being the last rider to start on this French quest.

Forty-five years ago Jacques Anquetil was the last rider to win in Monaco. Who will it be on the podium this year and how large the time differences will be is the big question. You bet that the GC-riders will be ready for this ITT as this first stage isn't just the opener; many valuable seconds, or minutes, can already be won or lost. Tomorrow the peloton moves into France, after having enjoyed the night in luxurious Monaco.

Detailed previews of the remaining stages will appear here
http://tour.cyclingfever.com/
 
Apr 3, 2009
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This *should* be a stage for Cancellara, but taking the profile into account, if he wins it, it will be a close call. It wouldn't even surprise me if a rider genre Contador, Menchov Schleck or Sastre comes in first after the ascent. But the second downhill half of the TT seems to be perfectly fit for Cancellara, as he can use his weight and big gear to make the difference. But the likes of Evans, Contador, Leipheimer and Menchov shouldn't lose too much time here.
For the real big powerhouse punchers (Grabsch, Hushovd, Voigt), it seems a bit too hard and undulating. A lot will depend on the descent as well. How technical will it be?
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Cancellara always wins these things. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Boonen place well. He has trained many times on those roads.

Andre
 
I think it's too far for a guy like Hushovd or other good prologue sprinters to beat the specialists but they will probably be up there in the top 15. My bet is for Cancellara for sure. If he does something similar to Tour de Suisse and if Saxo Bank does a great TTT I think he can hold the yellow jersey at least until Arcalis.
 
Apr 3, 2009
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ingsve said:
If he does something similar to Tour de Suisse and if Saxo Bank does a great TTT I think he can hold the yellow jersey at least until Arcalis.
That's the plan for sure.

But look at what Contador did in Bejing. It was only in the last part that he cracked, and Cancellara made the difference. Why not try it again, flying up the climb and trying to hold on in the ascent? But of course, Cancellara showed excellent climbing form in the tour de Suisse. So it will be hard to put enough time into him on the ascent for him to maintain the lead downhill. Two names pop up - next to Contador - that could be a threat to Cancellara's yellow dreams: Evans and Menchov. But on the other hand, there could be so many riders to perform well on this kind of stage if they have a good day: Kirchen, Leipheimer, Klöden, Armstrong, Gustav Larsson, LL Sanchez, Chavanel, Kreuziger, Dekker, Hincapie, even Devolder.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Jasper said:
This *should* be a stage for Cancellara, but taking the profile into account, if he wins it, it will be a close call. It wouldn't even surprise me if a rider genre Contador, Menchov Schleck or Sastre comes in first after the ascent. But the second downhill half of the TT seems to be perfectly fit for Cancellara, as he can use his weight and big gear to make the difference. But the likes of Evans, Contador, Leipheimer and Menchov shouldn't lose too much time here.
For the real big powerhouse punchers (Grabsch, Hushovd, Voigt), it seems a bit too hard and undulating. A lot will depend on the descent as well. How technical will it be?

With the chicanes, 5 in total in the descent, 4 following in close succession around 11k (or 4k before the finish), and which seem to be really steep downhill bends, I'd call it pretty technical.

The first 7.5k is a climb (2 hairpins), which seems to favour a climber like Contador, or pehaps the big gear grinder Menchov when he climbed in the Giro Cinque Terra. Then a rather easy 2.5-3k (at 10-10.5k in the stage) down hill stretch follows, suited to a heavier rider who keeps pushing the 56x11. At 10.5k (5k from the finish) the first 180 degree turn occurs, still in the down hill. At 11.5K (4k from the finish) they'll get to the 4 chicanes covering 1k and featuring a steep drop, it seems highly technical, perhaps even difficult to manoeuver with a TT bike. At 12.5k it's only 3k to bring it home and push the big gear again.

My break down:
Climbing: 7.5k
Big Gear: 6.5-7K half down hill/half flat
Technical: 1-1.5K

Question is, how does Cancelara digest the 7.5K climb?

I reckon Devolder has a good shot at the stage... He climbs well enough, he is a good bike handler (Cobbles, RvV), is not too light and is a good TTer
 
Jun 15, 2009
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I agree the main GC folks shouldn't lose much time here. I think Contador and Evans stand a good chance, but I doubt they would be wanting to defend yellow so early.
I think it's a bit too tough for riders like Hushovd, but Boonen stands a chance, should he be allowed the chance.
 
May 26, 2009
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anubisza said:
I agree the main GC folks shouldn't lose much time here. I think Contador and Evans stand a good chance, but I doubt they would be wanting to defend yellow so early.
I think it's a bit too tough for riders like Hushovd, but Boonen stands a chance, should he be allowed the chance.

The perfect tactic for Contador would be to finish within 10-20 secs of Cancellara while making minutes on the Schlecks. Then finish equal to Saxo Bank in the TT and you've got Saxo doing all the work til the mountains. In the mountains Contador will have no problems dropping Cancellara whilst the Schlecks would already be minutes behind him in GC.
 
Apr 3, 2009
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RdBiker said:
The perfect tactic for Contador would be to finish within 10-20 secs of Cancellara while making minutes on the Schlecks. Then finish equal to Saxo Bank in the TT and you've got Saxo doing all the work til the mountains. In the mountains Contador will have no problems dropping Cancellara whilst the Schlecks would already be minutes behind him in GC.
Minutes on the Schlecks? It's just a 15k timetrial, and not even a flat one. So don't think they will lose minutes. Fränk and Andy shouldn't lose much time on Contador on the ascent, and the descent isn't that long that it can put them more than a minute behind.

Your tactic does however make sense, it the way that Contador most likely doesn't want the yellow jersey yet. But on the other hand, he's going to want to make sure he's the Astana top dog from the start, so he'll have to keep an eye on Armstrong and Leipheimers times. But image those guys doing so well that Contador has to win in order to become the Astana leader. That would be an interesting turn of events.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Faserr said:
1. Cancellara
2. Contador
3. Klöden
4. Evans
5. Martin
6. Armstrong

:eek:

Noone can beat Cancellara there.


Has Tony Martin been given the nod by Columbia to race? If so he'll put a great TT in. Also watch for Wiggins or Millar to put it all on the line to get in Yellow. Money is still on Cancellara though.
 
May 26, 2009
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Jasper said:
Minutes on the Schlecks? It's just a 15k timetrial, and not even a flat one. So don't think they will lose minutes. Fränk and Andy shouldn't lose much time on Contador on the ascent, and the descent isn't that long that it can put them more than a minute behind.

Your tactic does however make sense, it the way that Contador most likely doesn't want the yellow jersey yet. But on the other hand, he's going to want to make sure he's the Astana top dog from the start, so he'll have to keep an eye on Armstrong and Leipheimers times. But image those guys doing so well that Contador has to win in order to become the Astana leader. That would be an interesting turn of events.

You're probably right saying that the Schlecks won't loose minutes on Contador. I painted a 'perfect' picture for Contador so I didn't really pay that much attention to the course. 30-90 secs would a more accurate estimation.

It would be good for Astana to let Saxo Bank take the jersey since they clearly have ambitions to keep it (and thus waste energy protecting it). Since Cancellara is no threat in the mountains Contador's only objective is making time on the Schlecks and thus hopefully eliminating them from the competition. Even though I can't see them dropping Contador in the mountains I think considering the team they have they pose a serious threat if they are too close on GC.

How tough is the ascent on the first half of the course? If it's 3-6% I'd say Cancellara wins the race hands down but if it goes steeper than that then I have to pick Evans for the win.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Jasper said:
Wasn't there a small peak of about 8% for 500 metres or so?

Could be, but I only have the 'rough info', which states a 7.5k distance and a 700ft elevation over that distance. Within that same stretch there could obviously be some steeper sections, but I can't confirm this. :(