TOURS PRINTS: AN EX­CLU­SIVE CLUB

Procycling - - Le Tour -

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

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