• Rúben Silva

Binck Bank Tour Stage 1 Preview

The Route

The opening stage will take palce in the flatlands of Antwerp and Zeeland, with a pan-flat stage where the height barely goes above 10 meters of altitude. In that sense there's no trouble, the dificulties may come from the likely wind and cobbled sectors along the route, narrow roads and fight for positioning, alongside the presence of a Gold Kilometers with just 9.5 kilometers to go will make it a hard fought stage to take, dangerous closing to the stage.

Because with a short cobbled sector right after, with just 6 kilometers to go the run-up to the finish is rather technical with the last two kilometers with several sharp turns into the finish in Hulst.

The Weather

Contrary to the logic it's actually not going to be windy tomorrow, but instead it will be quite rainy. With thunder but mainly a strong raining likely to mark the last hours of the stage, if not all of it.

The Favourites

It's a stage that will very likely fall for the peloton. Not only for the variety of sprinters and the fact that it's the opening stage, but it's pan-flat and the cobbled sectors will mean it will be a tense and fast race.

And with a technical finish the leadout is going to be very important in for the sprinters, and on top of the terms are two, Jumbo's Dylan Groenewegen who comes with Mike Teunissen, all good there but there's some lack of depth in it, Jos van Emden set to be their guide throughout the final kilometers if he opts not to go for the GC. The other is Bora's Sam Bennett who arguably has a better setup, as virtually his whole team can be a big part of the leadout. No doubt Bora will control the stage and yes, very likely the final kilometers aswell, Bennett is in good form so he is really the main man to consider.

Deceuninck have a strong squad, maybe too strong to be helping Alvaro Hodeg, who's taking the lead in this race whilst Richeze and Jakobsen are out but he won't have the support they do, in fact with 3 GC contenders there will be a big focus on protecting them, so Hodeg will have to do good close to on his own. The opposite of Arnaud Démare who brought a good portion of his leadout with him, Ramon Sinkeldam/Olivier Le Gac and Miles Scotson are here whilst Stefan Kung should also be a really good help. Jasper Philipsen and Juan Sebastian Molano lead a very young leadout in development, it's a great test to their ability to ride in the dangerous finishes but in Philipsen they have a legit contender for the stages.

Phil Bauhaus and Jakub Mareczko will be looking to do well in a stage that fits them very well, as an almost guarranteed bunch finish there's not much stoping them from being up there, they have to take the opportunity and risks to be in front and try to get an elusive win, they have the speed for it. INEOS have a strong team for the job, Halvorsen likely to be the sprinter of election but Chris Lawless and Leonardo Basso also have some good speed, and the whole team has strong qualities in the flat terrain, EF come with Sacha Modolo and Moreno Hofland, solid choices for the finale, Trek have Edward Theuns and Matteo Moschetti, both fast men who can work together, there's Timothy Dupont of Wanty , Dimension Data have Ryan Gibbons and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and this is already dwelling on the outsider list, sprinters come aplenty and in Jens Debusschere, Davide Ballerini, Amauri Caption, Thomas Boudat, Boy van Poppel and Baptiste Planckaert there's lots more options to fill in the Top10.

Prediction Time

S.Bennett, Groenewegen

Démare, Hodeg, Philipsen, Bauhaus

Mareczko, Halvorsen, Moschetti, Modolo, Rensburg, Dupont, Boudat, van Poppel

With a solid, experienced leadout and great legs I think he takes the edge over Groenewegen, both were in the European championships today but they are above everyone else at this point so it will be about them.

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