Will Tony Martin win the opening stage of the 2017 Tour de France in front of his home fans or will Rohan Dennis recreate his winning ride of the 2015 Tour?
It’s never too early to start speculating about future Tours de France, and with the unveiling of the opening stages of the 2017 Grand Boucle in Dusseldorf we’ve been thinking about who might win the opening time trial.
Like in Utrecht in 2015, organisers have decided to start with a full-blown time trial rather than a shorter prologue and like in Utrecht, the first stage is 13km long.
Dusseldorf, again like Utrecht, seems to be a pretty flat city judging by a quick glance at some topography maps, so the result could be quite similar.
But the middle section of the 2017 opening stage looks pretty technical, with some sharp turns and bridges, but the sweeping run along the Rhine at the start and finish could lead to some fast times on the course.
Here are our five picks for the win on stage one of the 2017 Tour de France.
There are a lot of positives for Tony Martin in this route presentation. Firstly, the race starts with a time trial – something that he’s very good at – and secondly, he’ll be racing in front of his home fans.
He would probably prefer something slightly longer or more challenging to really show his strength, but his second-place finish in the 2015 opening stage shows that he’s more-than comfortable over 13km.
Martin wore the yellow jersey for three stages in 2015, before crashing and breaking his collarbone on stage six, forcing him to abandon the race.
It would have been too easy to simply select Rohan Dennis as the favourite, given that he won the opening time trial in 2015, but it was that performance that makes it impossible to overlook him.
While everyone knew what a talent the young Australian was before the Utrecht stage, not many people predicted that he’d go as fast as he did, and given a smooth run in Dusseldorf and there’s no reason why he can’t beat Martin again.
Tom Dumoulin possibly won’t race the Tour de France this season, as he prepares for an assault on the Olympic Games time trial, but in 2017 there’s a strong chance that Dumoulin will be primed as Giant-Alpecin’s Grand Tour leader.
We may be getting carried away, but Dumoulin showed remarkable promise in his battle with Fabio Aru for the leadership of the Vuelta a España in 2015 and set tongues wagging about whether he could contend at the Tour de France.
And what better way to set an early marker than by winning the opening stage?
Watch highlights of stage one of the 2015 Tour de France
Movistar‘s Adriano Malori always seems to go under the radar, but he is certainly one of the premier time trialists in the peloton.
Eighth in Utrecht wasn’t what he had in mind, and he’d probably suit a slightly longer test, but Malori is exceptionally consistent against the clock, so could crack the top three with a solid ride.
Michal Kwiatkowski is another name that you don’t necessarily associate with time trialling, but the Pole is more than handy against the clock.
Riding for Etixx-Quick Step he took the first yellow jersey in Paris-Nice last year with a great prologue ride ahead of Dennis and Martin. With Team Sky he may find his role requiring him to save energy to help Chris Froome later in the race, but given a free rein and he could spring a surprise.