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Downhill all the way?
The opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California sees the shift from a short prologue time trial to a full on road stage of over 100 miles in length.
While the starting elevation of 2500 feet (762m) in the Sierra Nevada foothill town and the finishing altitude of nearly sea level suggest a fast, downhill route, but there are plenty of small climbs to break up the speed on the long run into Sacramento.
The hills won't be anything to worry the sprinters, however, and we should see a fast and furious bunch kick for the opening stage in the Golden State's capital.
Click here to view the stage map and profile.
On paper this looks like a pretty straight forward sprinters' stage with a pan-flat run in for the last 50 kilometres. However, for the first time the Tour of California doesn't have any sort of prologue, so the race will not have any sort of order or leader on day one.
This could lead to some very aggressive racing, especially by smaller teams that don't have a GC contender or a real sprinter.
If HTC-Columbia bring Cavendish, then I would think they would put the effort into bringing the breaks back, as he'd be my favorite on a day like this, but if they don't, this could be one confusing day of racing with multiple attacks, and maybe even a large breakaway with twenty-plus riders, and all the major teams represented, going away.
On a day like this, it isn't so much a question of how fast the breakaway is, but more a question of: Who will chase it down, and why? Maybe no one...