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Tour de France

Tour de France stage 1 preview: Time trial to set tone and hierarchy

With the yellow jersey up for grabs and potential significant time gaps, tension will be sky high across the swath of the peloton.

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COPENHAGEN (VN) — Friday’s 13.2km individual time trial on the urban streets here in the Danish capital will set the tone early in the 2022 Tour de France.

Pre-stage favorites include Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), but GC candidates Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) will be keen to snatch some seconds if they can.

With the yellow jersey up for grabs and potential significant time gaps, tension will be sky high across the swath of the peloton.

Friday’s stage will be several races within one. Here’s what to expect:

Flat but technical test for specialists

Wout van Aert will be a favorite Friday. (Photo: DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

There’s no mystery that there won’t be any climbs in the 13km course looping around central Copenhagen.

What the course lacks in elevation will be made up with cornering and an urban course replete with traffic furniture, sweeping turns, and tricky roads that come with any course held in a European city center.

The time trial starts with a long straight before sweeping back and forth across one of Denmark’s major canals. The time check at Sankt Jakob will give the stage favorites their first fixed reference.

At 5km to go, the course sweeps around a series of technical corners at Kastellet before turning back toward the line. The course heads back to another canal with under 2km with two more final turns inside the red kite. The final 700m are straight to the line.

The stage ends at Rädmusplasen right in the heart of historic Copenhagen.

Friday’s time trial will crown the first yellow jersey. (Photo: ASO)

Stage favorites: Wout vs. ‘Top Ganna’

Every major time trial sees a showdown between world time trial champion Ganna and Van Aert, and this will not be an exception.

Ganna got the best of Van Aert at the Dauphiné in June by just two seconds, but the Belgian comes hobbled with a minor knee injury that he hopes will not impact him too much on the short course.

“It’s been a big goal for the whole season to go for the stage win and the yellow jersey. With the knee injury it was hard to keep my eyes on the prize during the last week,” Van Aert said. “I worked really hard for this and I trained a lot of time on the TT and I don’t want to give up for one setback.

“The course is really nice and I like it. It’s like going through the city center and it’s quite technical. It’s a bit longer than a normal prologue and it’s something that suits me.”

Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) will be another stage favorite.

GC opportunity

The yellow jersey contenders who can put down a good time trial will be hoping to carve out some seconds on their direct GC rivals.

Geraint Thomas, Tadej Pogačar and Olympic time trial champion Primož Roglič will all be aiming to post strong rides to give themselves a bit of a cushion against the more climbing oriented rivals.

Riders like Enric Mas, Ben O’Connor or Nairo Quintana will be looking to limit their collective losses. Losing too much time too early will only add stress to what will be a tense first week.

Yellow jersey chase

Mathieu van der Poel is also chasing yellow. (Photo: DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Other riders might not be in the frontline to win the stage, but they will be going all in to try to stay as close as possible for a run at the yellow jersey later in the first week.

Riders like Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) know if they can stay within a fistful of seconds Friday they can chase time bonuses across the first week, and perhaps land in yellow.

“The TT suits a lot of riders, and it’s something we are also interested in,” Matthews said. “I will do my best TT on Friday to see how close I can get to the pure specialists, and try to stay up there in the first week and try to get the yellow jersey for a few days. That’s the big goal for me this year.”

Weather: Threat of rain could be factor

Summer-like weather could disappear under a front piling into the Copenhagen metro area on Friday afternoon.

Forecasters overnight said a warm front that could bring afternoon showers is expected to roll in by just about the time the first wave of riders are going down the start ramp Friday.

Any urban course becomes even more treacherous in wet conditions, with oil and other gunk making roads slippery and treacherous. The latest forecast puts an 80 percent chance of showers by Friday afternoon. Riders will be on edge.

First rider off at 4 p.m. CET

The first rider is due to start at 16:00 CET and the last rider will go down the ramp at 18:55 CET. The fastest riders should finish in less than 15 minutes.

Up next: Europe’s longest bridge

Lotto-Soudal is chasing sprints for Caleb Ewan. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The 2022 Tour continues Saturday with the 199km second stage from Roskilde to Nyborg.

On paper, it’s well-suited for the peloton’s fast finishers, but there is the threat of splits in the peloton as well as a crossing of Europe’s longest bridge.

Forecasters are expecting winds up to 20kph during second stage that could provoke splits in peloton ahead of bridge crossing.

The route will cross the famous series of bridges crossing the “Great Belt,” which could explode the peloton if forecasted high winds arrive.

The finish line is just 3km after coming off the bridge. The fight for positioning will be intense as no one in the peloton will have a chance to recon the stage beforehand.