Monday, July 1, 2013

Stage 4 Preview 2013 Tour De France Team Time Trial, Nice


25k flat TTT – Nice

The team time trial route map in Nice

Stage 4 on Tuesday brings the peloton back to the French mainland for the 25k team time trial. The roads are big and flat, with just nine 90-degree corners to navigate, and none in the last 2km. Team Sky and Omega Pharma-Quickstep would be my first two picks—except for all the injuries those two teams have sustained in the first three stages. Key men for this discipline are riding hurt, like Tony Martin and Niki Terpstra for Omega Pharma, and for Team Sky, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas—the latter riding with a fractured pelvis—and Mark Cavendish is reportedly riding with a bronchial infection.

The strength and depth of those teams could still be enough to net them high finishes, as both still have several top TT talents remaining. The handicaps Sky and Omega are suffering as a result of crashes and illness put them on a more level footing with a few other teams. I am looking at Garmin, Movistar, and Orica GreenEdge to potentially grab high placings. Just behind them I would mention Radioshack, BMC, Saxo-Tinkoff, and Astana.

Stage 4 team time trial profile

All those teams could produce strong results in the TTT.  Despite it all, I am still picking Omega Pharma for the win. They are much the same OPQ squad that won the Tirreno Adriatico TTT in March, and was second at the 2012 Vuelta a España TTT. With riders as strong against the clock as Sylvain Chavanel (French National TT Champ), Michal Kwiatkowski, and Peter Velits, Omega Pharma can win even without Tony Martin’s giant engine.  Additionally, even an injured Tony Martin might surprise us with a heroic ride tomorrow.

If Omega does win, I was thinking they would probably try to put Chavanel in front as they cross the line, to take the yellow jersey; but I guess if Kwiatkowski is with the first finishing five, then he would take the race lead since he is currently placed higher than Chavanel in the overall standings. 

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