TOURS PRINTS: AN EXCLUSIVE CLUB
I f you wanted some reliable generalisations about sprinting in the modern Tour you might start with these three rules: the break never stays away; only two or three sprinters actually win stages in any given Tour; and one sprinter dominates.
The last time a break held off the peloton on a flat stage was in 2009, when Thomas Voeckler won stage 5. That’s not to say it’ll never happen again - the reduction in team sizes may yet affect the flat stages in 2018 and Taylor Phinney and Yoann Offredo resisted until a kilometre to go on stage 2 last year. But if any of the eight flat road stages in 2018 results in a break winning, it will be a surprise.
Will a single sprinter dominate in 2018? In every Tour since 2008 except 2012, when Cavendish and Greipel won three stages each, one sprinter has won at least four stages. And in every Tour in the same period except 2013, no more than three sprinters have won a stage. There’s one more rule: whoever wins the first sprint has gone on to win the most every year since 2012.
Of course, these are rules formulated in retrospect. In 2018, five sprinters could share the wins, a break could stay away, or the stage 1 winner could end the Tour with just that win. But if recent trends are continued, watch stage 1 closely – winning the first stage creates its own momentum.
Whoever wins the irst sprint has gone on to win the most sprints every year since 2012