Tour of Turkey Stage 1 Preview
There will be lots of these, all the stages but one can theorically finish in a bunch sprint if they're well played by the main teams, the opening one is no exception. Not a pan-flat stage, far from it in fact, but the little bums on the way to Tekirdag won't present much of a dificulty for the sprinters.
The same can't be said for the final climb, it isn't very hard, only 2.1Km at 4.9%, it likely won't cause gaps in the peloton but can be used to burn some of the sprinters' legs with only 12.5 kilometers to go.
These are wind conditions you don't see everyday. So, from Istambul to Tekirdag, the route will be alongside the coast all day long. The wind will start coming from the north in the begining of the stage, crosswind conditions. Then halfway through the stage it turns into a tailwind, where it remains for a while, and then in the last around 25 kilometers it turns to a south wind, this time coming from the sea, ideal for crosswinds situation.
The wind will be moderate, in that final around 15Km/h with 30Km/h gusts, but if it's as exposed as it looks like there's a solid chance of seeing splits in the peloton. At the very least, the GC riders must be on their top guard, and be well positioned all day long.
Who can we expect to see?
A bunch sprint. If not a full bunch sprint it'll likely still be a reduced bunch sprint. The stage isn't hard to see a solo attack succeed. Lots of teams will be fully focused on their sprinters, so there will constantly be a lot of chasing power, adding that to the fact that the breakaways will be formed mainly out of PCT teams, it won't be as hard to make a chase.
So from a bunch sprint, who to expect?
Well the names are obvious, but the first one I'll mention is Fabio Jakobsen. He may not be the strongest sprinter but he definetely has the best leadout for a finish like this. Martinelli/Morkov/Richeze/Hodeg is a leadout worthy of great things, Jakobsen may very well enter the sprint in prime position but the question is if he can make good use of it.
Sam Bennett has been one of the most dominant sprinters of late, and his reputation in this race too, with 7 victories in the last two editions. Safe to say it's a golden race for him, he'll be looking to add to his tally. His leadout isn't as strong, but he undoubtedly has the power to overcome that disadvantage.
Caleb Ewan is the other dangerman. He can obviously sprint, his team is fully focused in him and that can bring something extra in the end of the day. He's a clear favourite, but his odds aren't as high as he needs to overcome his two rivals.
Ryan Gibbons and Simone Consonni are more suited to the steeper finishes but they can be part of the mix here too, especially if Dimension Data can set up a proper train and have Cavendish back on his best legs.
In the PCT there's plenty of sprinters to back up. Pacioni, Malucelli, Grosu and Orken are all names to look out for.
⭐ Cavendish, Molano, Pacioni, Mallucelli, Grosu, Orken
Going with Sam Bennett, he definetely has the edge when it comes to the sprinters present, he's been mega strong this last year and he has won several times without a proper leadout, he can do it again. I do believe Deceuninck will put him in serious pressure, but he has got what it takes.
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