Tour de Pologne Stage 1 Preview
The race starts in Krakow and the opening stage goes around the flatlands of one of Poland's main cities. It's a relatively easy start, 134 kilometers with a little over 1000 meters of climbing but the main dificulties - if we can call it that - come early in the stage. It's a pure sprinters stage which should see a sprinter elected the first leader of the race.
There is a finishing circuit that will finish off the stage, it's 4 kilometers long with no gradient to it, it's not a technical finish at all so it should be all in for the leadouts and how the sprinters are able to deliver in the end of the day.
Mild temperatures and a slight northwestern wind, won't be meaningless but it's nothing extreme so it should come down to a regular sprint, it will be a headwind finish so it's crucial to time your sprint well and not hit the front too early.
It's a stage that should easily be controled by the peloton, with likely Bora and Deceuninck to be working despite their sub-focus on the GC.
Pascal Ackermann is coming back after a short stint of racing after the Giro, he has Rudiger Selif with him, it's a prestine leadout man and after winning the two opening stages last year he comes as possibly the main favourite for tomorrow but competition is aplenty. Mainly from Fabio Jakobsen, aswell as Bora there's also a lot of climbers/puncheurs in the team but in the finale won't be crucial to have a big leadout, he has Fabio Sabatini that may be enough to guide the Dutch.
Fernando Gaviria can be considered a main favourite aswell but it's a bit complicated to judge his form after two and a half months off racing and returning from an injury, Max Walscheid will appreciate the lack of elevation in the stage as will Jakub Mareczko and Mark Cavendish, who is again taking another step back into racing but shouldn't be an important rider in the end.
Marc Sarreau and Clement Venturini lead the French fast men into the sprints here, Sacha Modolo and Filippo Fortin will be the Italian riders but these lack the speed of the top World Tour sprinters, Luka Mezgec will lead Mitchelton's leadout, Danny van Poppel also will be waiting for harder stages to really take advantage of his qualities besides the sprint, and there's finally also John Degenkolb coming with a solid Trek to help him out.
⭐ van Poppel, Degenkolb, Modolo, Sarreau, Venturini, Mezgec
My call is for a repeat of last year, in the meantime Pascal Ackermann has become one the peloton's most dominant sprinters and he definetely has the power AND the leadout to win here.
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