STAGE 1: MONACO TIME TRIAL

Saturday, July 4



DISTANCE 15.5km



WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?

This is very different from the usual dragstrip prologue course. The first 7.2 kilometres are all uphill. There’s barely time to draw breath before the climbing starts. Up away from the harbour, into the streets of Monte Carlo and then on up to Beausoleil. It is a considerable climb for a time trial and riders will have had a major headache choosing the right bike. Once at the top, there’s a very fast descent with a tight U-turn at the bottom before the flat, fast run for home.

stage 1 Tour de France 2009 profile

The corners towards the end of the descent are technical. They’re all about nerve – how late can they leave it to brake? If it rains at any point, it’ll become extremely twitchy on those corners.



But the biggest test is judging the effort. Once the riders reach the top of the hill at Beausoleil, there’s a temptation to think it’s an easy run-in. It’s not. After the descent, there is a long flat section which will require plenty left in the tank. Anyone who’s given too much on the hill could see all their hard work undone on the flat.



Cycle Sport checks out the Monaco time trial course with Bradley McGee



WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?

Kenny Van Hummel of Skil-Shimano gets the Tour de France under way at 4pm local time (3pm UK time). Lance Armstrong (Astana) is one of the early starters, making his return to Tour after a four-year absence at 4.17pm (3.17pm UK time). It could turn out to be a very smart move by Astana to put him off as their first man. There is a slight chance of rain later on and if it’s wet, the technical corners in the final third will be extremely difficult. By the way, Armstrong’s minute-man is Britain’s Charly Wegelius (Silence-Lotto).



David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) starts at 4.54pm (3.54pm UK time), Mark Cavendish (Columbia) is at 5.52pm (4.52pm UK time) and all the rest of the favourites for the stage are in the final hour. Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) is at 7.01pm (6.01pm UK time). Defending champion Carlos Sastre (Cérvelo) is last to start.



It would be a major surprise if Armstrong were not to set the best time when he crosses the line. None of the 17 riders before him would be expected to go faster. Then it is a question of how long Armstrong’s time stands for. And, if the weather changes later on…



CW PREVIEW AND MAP

Stage 1: Monaco time trial



KEY START TIMES

All times are local. UK time is one hour earlier

16.00 Van Hummel

16.17 Armstrong

16.37 Leipheimer

16.54 Millar

17.52 Cavendish

17.56 F Schleck

18.08 Pereiro

18.14 Zabriskie

18.17 Kloden

18.32 Rogers

18.34 Vande Velde

18.36 A Schleck

18.39 Hushovd

18.58 Kirchen

19.01 Wiggins

19.02:30 Menchov

19.04 Cancellara

19.05:30 Contador

19.07 Evans

19.08:30 Sastre

SIX TO WATCH

Alberto Contador (Spain) Astana

The favourite for the overall is also the favourite for this opening time trial. The twisting, hilly course plays on Contador’s strengths. What better way to assert his authority on the race – and his team – than an opening win.



Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana

In his seven-time Tour-winning heyday, Armstrong would have been the outright favourite today. Has he still got it? Either way, a top ten place is almost a given.



Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream

Britain’s big hope for an early win and spell in the yellow jersey. Wiggins is in blistering form but are there too many hills for him to beat the climbers?



Cadel Evans (Australia) Silence-Lotto

Evans is another overall contender with a good history in Tour stages against the clock. The former mountain biker’s technical ability will come to the fore on the technical descents.



Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) Saxo Bank

Cancellara looks to be back to his best after an indifferent start to the year, and is always a favourite in any time trial.



David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream

Millar has been slowly building up to the Tour after breaking his collarbone in the spring and is another rider who’s peaked at the right time. Could be an outside bet for a top ten place.



Who will win?

Alberto Contador

 

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

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EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



Stage one: Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances

TOUR GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

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About the Tour de France

FEATURES


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Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France





Tour de France anti-doping measures explained





Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish




 

  • daren and tracey lisle

    best of luck to all british riders, it’s going to be a very interesting tour with lance back!!!

  • tom

    Contador is still available at 12-1…

  • Simon Evans

    Contador has to be the favourite, but I think Menchov has to be worth a mention. He did very well in the Giro’s hilly TT (although it was significantly longer). GO WIGGINS!