Where’s Tom Boonen? He certainly didn’t get much TV time yesterday. He’ll be much easier to pick out in his new Belgian champions kit, should he be in the mix for the sprint today. But I doubt he’ll take the win.
It’s not a knock on his fitness—as you’ll see above he looks quite lean [insert cocaine joke here]. But the first sprint of the Tour is a nutty little crapshoot. Jimmy Casper, time and time again the last place rider in the overall classification, took his only TdF win on Stage 1 in 2006, as Boonen and Robbie McEwen marked each other too closely.
In 2002, Rubens Bertogliati got the drop on the field and made a very energetic fist pump as the sprinters swarmed around him after the line, and two years later, the Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu took his final Tour win in the penultimate of his 13 consecutive Tour DNFs.
Today’s stage is a touch hilly for a sprinter, and that’ll be better for the big names—the climbs will take the snap of the legs on the dreamers who have no business trading elbows with the world’s best in the final K. I’m hoping it might also cut down on the inevitable first-week crashes, but I also wouldn’t want to be accused of jinxing it. Cavendish is the odds-on favorite, but like I said before, the first sprint is tough to predict…